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Monday Mash-Up

Can we all go ahead and agree that last night’s Super Bowl may have been one of the least interesting games to date? I didn’t have a real vested interest in either team; I was sort of pulling for the Broncos because I really like Peyton Manning, but the Seahawks had never won a Super Bowl and I would have been happy to see that too. But come on, guys- at least make it a good game! That match such a blowout that we stopped watching after the third quarter and made our way home to watch the newest Sherlock episode. If you aren’t already hooked on Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of the infamous sleuth, you’re missing out.

As always, lessons learned/events that transpired over the past week:

  • I have a deep-rooted mistrust of hair dressers and this past week’s appointment to get my hair cut is a perfect example of why. They all (and I mean ALL) chops off way more than I’ve asked for, and I’m left pretending to be happy with it for as long as it takes to get out to my car where I then stare morosely at my locks and mourn the loss of several inches of hair. So, that being said, anyone have a trusted person in northern Virginia they recommend who won’t take un-asked for liberties with your locks?
  • Also, I’m 100% aware that ^this^ is a first-world problem.
  • Thanks to our friends Terry & Flo, I discovered the GREEN Tabasco sauce a couple weeks ago, and now I put that stuff on everything. Soup, tacos, even a plain flour tortilla. So good.
  • I received a gorgeous blush tulle skirt for Christmas and now I’ve got the urge to try and make one myself! I picked up the tulle + lining fabric and we’re heading to my Granny’s house this weekend, so I’ll keep you guys posted on how it turns out.
  • You know those ridiculous late-night conversations that you have with best friends and/or your spouse that make you laugh one of those good, hearty belly laughs? Matt & I had one of those last night, the subject being “names for boys” if we were ever to have one. After a discussion revolving around how April, May and June got to be the only months that are also acceptable names for people, Matt suggested “how about October September Springmann, and we’ll call him ‘Toby?’” WHAT? In the past, Matt’s also suggested “George” and “Mason,” if we ever have twins. I countered that with “George” and “Fred,” but he wasn’t going for it.
  • **And no, we’re not having children anytime soon.

Last week I had the opportunity to shoot in a studio for the first time- that was definitely an experience! I won’t be sharing the images on my blog, but I’m hoping it’s something I’ll have a chance to do again soon! Perhaps with my next ballerina session?


Also! The deadline for sending in an application to be a shooting intern is TODAY at 5 pm. I’ve received way more interest than I anticipated (thank you to everyone who’s applied!) so I’ve implemented a cutoff to allow me time to make a decision. If you were thinking of sending in an application, make sure it’s in my inbox by 4:59 this evening in order to be considered :).

Emilia Jane - February 4, 2014 - 5:04 pm

I am DYING to shoot a couple with a gal in a tulle skirt

Terri Baskin - February 4, 2014 - 2:53 pm

I don’t know Abby, October “Toby” has a nice ring to it! lol Or Mason Radford Springman, perhaps?!?!

Caitlin Gerres - February 3, 2014 - 2:21 pm

I feel your pain on the hair cuts. I purposely ask for 1-2 inches less than I intend. But I always need a few days to get used to the change.
I think you’re doing pretty good if Matt’s suggestions are Toby, George, and Mason. Ryan wants Winston, Emerson, and Vincent.
And your “not-pregnant” disclaimer made me laugh. That’s become a staple for my posts. I always seem to be a little too vague.

Jean - February 3, 2014 - 1:17 pm

Have you not heard of the actress January Jones? April Springmann would be awesome! Or you could go with gem names like. Pearl, Opal, Ruby! Just kidding! Can’t wait to see you and Matt.

Ashley - February 3, 2014 - 1:14 pm

I feel your pain about the haircut woes. One of the things I love about my stylist Tiffany at the Anne Welsh Salon in Alexandria is how well she listens and translates that request into my cut. And when I ask for just the TINNIEST of trims (less than 1/8th an inch), that’s what I get. I’ve never had a stylist actually listen like that!

leah - February 3, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Jhovanna at Semblance in Ashburn or Miriam at Accent Beauty (they have great first time client specials).

Melissa - February 3, 2014 - 12:53 pm

ABBY!!!! I was so excited to run into you at the studio – finally I got to meet Abby Grace. Woot Woot.

Natalie - February 3, 2014 - 12:17 pm

What about August?! ;) I’ve known two August’s growing up.. one was a girl the other was a boy we called “Auggie”! Seriously! Months for names… love it!

Amanda - February 3, 2014 - 12:07 pm

You should go see Hediah at Encore Color in Fairfax City – she is amazing – she does exactly what you want and does a great job!

Calling all interns!

My method when it comes to additional shooters on a wedding day has changed a lot over the past few years. It used to be that I wouldn’t even consider showing up to a wedding without a second shooter, but then my attitude swung more to the side of non-shooting assistants, rather than a designated second shooting photographer. And here I am, embarking on the beginning of year 4 of photographing wedding on my own, and I find things changing again.

As great as things worked out with having assistants over the past year, it was getting pretty frustrating when I found myself with a different assistant at almost every wedding. I had a few favorite gals to work with, but if they were already booked, it meant I needed to reach out to someone outside of my circle of preferred photographers, often resulting in a brand new assistant at each wedding. This meant I spent a significant amount of time on wedding days training new assistants in how I needed them to help me out. And they all did a wonderful job! But I’m at a place where I need more consistency than that- working with a different assistant almost every weekend was at times unreliable and, to be honest, a bit counterproductive.

Cue: the idea of “shooting interns.”

I recognize that I need more stability when it comes to my secondary photographers on a wedding day, but I’m also aware that it’s difficult to ask ONE person to reserve all of the Saturdays on which I need them, so I’m looking to hire two to three shooting interns for the 2014 wedding season. This is an educational experience as well as a paid position- I’m looking to find two to three photographers who are already accustomed to working their cameras, and to pour pretty much everything I know about shooting weddings into each of them. I’ll do my best walk you through what I do and why I do it, and during down time you’ll be able to ask as many questions as you like. AND, unlike in the past, I’ll work with each of my interns to curate images at the end of their time with me so that you’ll be able to use a handful of photographs from each wedding you shoot with me to get your own online portfolio started. In short, I want each of my interns to walk away from the 2014 season with me feeling empowered, able, and confident enough to get their own wedding photography business up and running in time for the 2015 season.

So let’s talk about a couple requirements/details:

  • You’ll need to be available and ready to solidly commit several months in advance to 6-8 Saturdays throughout the year (we’ll divvy up my schedule between interns so no one’s having to commit to every wedding weekend)
  • Applicants need to have at least some experience in photography to begin with. You don’t need to be a full-time photographer or a wiz with off-camera lighting, but you do need to know how your camera works. We’ll be jumping right in on wedding days and you’ll need to know how to use the equipment you have.
  • The positions will pay per wedding day, and that rate will depend on experience and the amount of equipment you already own.
  • Most of all, I want you to want this. I want you to have a desire to better yourself as a photographer, to have a passion for learning, to be teachable, and to be EXCITED! Because as crazy as wedding days can be, we’re going to have a lot of fun!
  • Oh yes, and there will be a degree of travel involved for some of the weddings, so be ready for that as well! (You’ll know before committing to a weekend whether or not there’s travel involved)

So. If you think like this sounds like something you’re ready for, interested in, and excited about, shoot me an email at with a brief introduction, a link to your recent work (even if it’s a Facebook album), and your answers to the following questions (feel free to just copy + paste this into the email):

  1. Experience- how long have you been shooting, both personally and professionally (if applicable)?
  2. What do you LIKE to shoot?
  3. What equipment do you already own?
  4. Why do you want to shoot weddings?
  5. What are you hoping to learn from being a shooting intern?
  6. Are you generally available on Saturdays? (this one is really important!)
  7. What does love mean to you personally? (I’m not looking for a fluffy, nondescript answer you think I want to hear, I really want to know what it means to you!)
  8. Favorite Disney movie. GO.

I’m really excited to talk with you!

Classic Virginia wedding photo-Abby Grace

**Updated 2/1/14: You guys are incredible! I’ve received over 50 applications at this point, so if you’re stilling thinking of sending one in, I’m setting a deadline of 5 pm Monday, February 3rd. Can’t wait to hear from you!**

***Updated 2/4/14: No more applications are being accepted at this time- thank you!***

Brianna Schlecht - January 31, 2014 - 1:18 pm

So exciting!! I just sent you one of the longest emails EVER :)

Rici - January 30, 2014 - 2:41 am

You don´t happen to need an intern in Germany/Italia?? Oh my! It sounds soooo good!
~ Saluti!!

Michael and Carina - January 29, 2014 - 9:28 am

Just sent someone your way!

Emilia Jane - January 29, 2014 - 9:14 am

I’m so excited for you with this love <3

Rebekah Hoyt - January 29, 2014 - 9:07 am

Abby, this is SO exciting!

Arli Quinn - January 29, 2014 - 9:05 am

Love this! I’m out of the office right now but you will receive an email from me this evening! :)

Monday Mash-Up

Have you ever had one of those weeks that makes you stare open-mouthed at how crazy the world can be sometimes? Yes? That was last week for me. Just pure ridiculousness. And right when you need it, you’ll have a friend like Rebekah Hoyt who comes over just to keep you company as you spend your morning on the phone with various Detectives and Lieutenants from the police department, laughing with you at the sheer absurdity of the situation and praying with you when you need it. Oh, and peeling a butternut squash so that you can make soup later on.

Rebekah, you are awesome, and I am so dang thankful to have you as a friend.

In other news, the weather has been nuts. We had 8-9 inches of snow last week and it was GLORIOUS! Matt came home early from work on Tuesday to avoid a messy commute during rush hour, and then stayed home all day Wednesday as well. It kind of felt like that time back in college when Matt got stuck down at Radford due to the Snowpocalypse going on in northern Virginia, and I loved it :).

As always, lessons learned/events that transpired over the past week:

  • I’ve finally switched to an online studio management software to help me take care of and organize  contracts, client details and payments online. It looks like it’s going to be a great system once I’ve figured it out, but I spent all of last Monday evening (seriously- five straight hours) wanting to rip my hair out as I attempted to carry out the simplest of tasks. There has GOT to be an easier way to craft these programs so that they become more user-friendly and intuitive, amIright?
  • Our townhouse is from the late 1960′s, so the ventilation system is a little outdated- typically, our upstairs is about 10-12 degrees warmer than the downstairs. Since we sleep upstairs, we set the thermostat so that it’s *just* the right temperature in our room, but then the living room ends up being like 60, no joke. And THEN I remembered that someone invented space heaters, and voila! Our living room became livable again!
  • I am LOVING my new Day Designer by Whitney English! I’ll admit, I bought this one to replace my Simplified Planner because I liked the branding, but I’m loving the functionality of it as well.
  • One of the many reasons Matt is my soulmate- I receive a call from him on Saturday night with the following question: “Hey honey, I’m in Vienna. Do you want me to pick up pasties for dinner from PurePasty, and we can watch a Harry Potter movie as well to go along with it?” I love him so freaking much. And then when he arrived home, “I also picked up a thing of whipped cream in case you wanted to make Butterbeer, too.” #unashamedhusbandbragging

Believe it or not, I’ve only picked up my camera once over the past week, and that was so Matt could photograph my Hunter boots last week, sooo we’re a little lacking in the “fresh photo material” department. Which means I’m in the business of recycling images this week! In celebration of just having booked my flights for UNITED2014, here’s a dose of Santa Barbara sunshine. I cannot WAIT to be back on the west coast in less than a month!

View More:

Dad - January 27, 2014 - 5:22 pm

More pictures and more SNOW!

Emilia Jane - January 27, 2014 - 1:42 pm

That makes two of us counting down to Santa Barbara! :-D Love you lady

Jean - January 27, 2014 - 11:39 am

Your Matt is a sweetie! Sorry about your troubles last week. Such a shame. I’m glad we didn’t get all that snow. We got just enough to be pretty! Love you.

Kerith - January 27, 2014 - 11:01 am

I am really sorry you had to deal with all of that. People can always surprise you with how dark humanity can be. But the good news is- people can always surprise you with how amazing they can be too. I’m glad you had a friend by your side to deal with that with you. I know how hard that can be. Sending love and hugs.

Everyone Loves a Classic: red Hunter rain boots

I’ve wanted a pair of glossy red rain boots for as long as I can remember, and this Christmas, Matt gave me a pair to call my own! It all started with my American Girl doll, Molly. Show of hands: how many of you all had one of those growing up? I know I’m not alone!

The raincoat set for my Molly doll was a gift for either my birthday or Christmas, I can’t remember which, but I can recall with perfect clarity wishing that I had a yellow rain slicker, red rain boots and a matching red umbrella to make dreary days more exciting. It seemed so classically American, so perfectly 1940′s, and call me crazy, but I was jealous of a doll. A DOLL, people. I may have outgrown Molly years ago, but I never stopped looking for that perfect pair of glossy red galoshes.

And then I discovered Hunter rain boots. I know they’re not anything new, heck, they’ve been around for something like 160 years, but I personally only stumbled upon them a couple of years ago. I’d seen a bunch of my friends in the forest green ones, and while they were cute, I was still doing ok with my pink + white striped boots from a few years back.

But then I visited the Hunter website, and there it was: the perfectly shiny, USA-red pair of wellies that I’d been searching for. And it shot RIGHT to the top of my Christmas list! Matt was amazing and made sure to order them and have the package delivered to his parents’ house, just in case I decided to go snooping around our house. I was so excited to find these under the tree on Christmas morning!! No joke, I rejoiced when it rained in the days following Christmas, because it means I had a legitimate excuse to stomp around in my Hunters.

Classic glossy red Hunter rain boots- Abby Grace

Classic glossy red Hunter rain boots- Abby Grace

They’re also perfect for snow! Although I definitely recommend wool socks, because the rubber isn’t at all insulated and your toes will freeze. The wool socks keep your feet perfectly comfortable!

Classic glossy red Hunter rain boots- Abby Grace

Michele - January 25, 2014 - 1:25 am

I had the whole set of Samantha books when I was a kid! Such fun reading memories. I’ve also wanted a pair of Hunter boots for a few years now! Not sure if it rains enough here in Cali to warrant it. =(

Jean - January 24, 2014 - 4:16 pm

Oh, Abby, you are so cute! Love you .

Anna - January 24, 2014 - 1:17 pm

Molly AND Addy are currently under my bed, with all their clothes and accessories I accumulated over the years.

I was just thinking the other day that I need a pair of fancy rubber boots as sometimes you just need a pair… seems we have had a lot of the perfect rubber boot weather lately. I will have to look into Hunter.


Rachel Wells - January 24, 2014 - 11:52 am

Molly is the best and I love my Hunters, too! I have navy, but I think you’ve talked me into shiny red for my next pair! :)

Andrea Pesce - January 24, 2014 - 11:38 am

I loved my Molly American Doll! Cute boots!

Sabrina - January 24, 2014 - 11:08 am

I have red ones too (with some of their wool socks) and love them!! They were perfect for our snowy wedding we shot on Jan 4. Seriously saved my life!

meghan - January 24, 2014 - 10:41 am

you need the fleece liners that they make for them! nice and toasty warm.

Caitlin Gerres - January 24, 2014 - 9:49 am

I was obsessed with American Girl dolls! I had Felicity and one that looked like me. I loved them so much, I couldn’t bare to get rid of them, so they’re tucked away waiting for little girls. :-)

Laura - January 24, 2014 - 9:19 am

So adorable! Just ordered hot pink ones yesterday!

Shalese Danielle - January 24, 2014 - 8:31 am

I had Molly, too!! My grandma picked her for me because we both wore glasses & pigtails. She seems to have been the perfect choice for you with her British friend (I think her name is Emily Bennett and cannot believe I remember that!) and all!

Bethany - January 24, 2014 - 8:28 am

Ah! I loved my American Girl Doll ♥ I had one of the ones that you created to look like you (back when they 1st came out). She is actually still at my mother’s house in a special source with all her outfits.
And Hunter rain boots are amazing. I highly recommend the liners you can buy for them-they make the boys very cozy even if you’re wearing regular socks.

Sarah H. - January 24, 2014 - 8:19 am

Look at how cute you are!! These may be the perfect thing to bring with you in March! ;)

Tiffany Heidenthal - January 24, 2014 - 8:18 am

Seriously cute boots. And I had Samantha. I wanted her because she had the nicest furniture :)

Danielle Brooks - January 24, 2014 - 8:16 am

So jealous of your wellies! Wishing I had a pair!

Natalie - January 24, 2014 - 8:09 am

Hunter boots are a must! Love these shots of you! You are gorgeous!

Lessons Learned: File Organization

I’ve never been someone you’d call “organized,” which is strange considering my Type A(ish) personality. I love BEING organized, but sometimes, it’s just so hard to get there! Having adult ADHD (and growing up in a family where we were ALL diagnosed), it’s just been the norm- my parents’ biggest battle with me growing up was getting me to clean my room (I’m sure my dad will leave a sweet sentiment regarding this ongoing war in the comments section). And now that Matt & I have a home of our own, it’s still my biggest struggle, except this time it’s an entire house instead of one bedroom :).

That’s not to say I don’t desire organization- I LOVE, really love the feeling of a clear desk, a tidy living room and squeaky-clean kitchen. Nothing puts me at more peace than having my living space organized. But again, it’s GETTING there that’s the problem. And that’s another thing about ADHD- I’ll look at a room, get completely overwhelmed (no matter how small the mess is), and instead of just digging in, I’ll forego it completely. It’s an incredibly frustrating cycle!  During my first year of shooting weddings on my own, I encountered this issue when it came to file storage and organization. Fortunately for me, my wedding photographer/mentor/friend came over for an afternoon of shooting, tomato soup, and business help, and one of the things she taught me was the importance of CONSISTENT file naming. Prior to her help, I was naming folders in a different way every time I uploaded new images, which made organizing and accessing my archives an utter nightmare.

These days, I have a method for naming everything! From files to hard drives to PASS galleries, I never have to wonder what I named an event when I’m trying to access my old files, which makes locating them a breeze. Let’s start big and then get smaller:

  • As of now, I keep all of my images on external hard drives to make working on the go easy. This year I’ll likely be upgrading to a multi-hard drive system like Synology, but for now, I work off of 1 TB hard drives until they’re full, then I move onto another one. Each drive is named “AGP#”, with the number being whatever sequence the drive is in my collection.
  • Within any particular drive, there are one or two overall folders: “2013″ and “2014″ are the ones on my latest drive, to help me locate files quickly according to when they were taken.
  • Within those yearly folders, I break it down even further- Engagements, Personal, Portraits and Weddings. Tracking with me? Here’s a visual-

When I create a folder for a new wedding/session and import the RAW images, the folder will stay in the same location as the 2013 and 2014 folders- once the images from a wedding have been completely edited, PASSed and delivered, then and only then are they moved into the “2013 > Weddings” folder. It helps keep me up to date on anything that has yet to be completed.

So this is what my hard drive would look like prior to me completing the Smalley Wedding-


Now. Let’s talk about file naming.

  • Every engagement session is named “GroomBrideES.” Simple as that. “JohnEmilyES,” “DanSarahES,” etc. etc. I never switch up the order just to keep things consistent.
  • Every wedding is then named “NewlastnameWedding.” So… if the groom’s name was John Smith, it would be “SmithWedding.” Even if the bride is keeping her maiden name, I name the wedding folder with the groom’s last name so I don’t have to guess.
  • Anniversary sessions are just “HusbandWifePS” (for “portrait session”) and ballerina sessions are “NameBalletPS.”

Within every folder, I break it down again. I do this as SOON as I upload the images after a wedding so that I don’t have to worry about it later. Let’s use Ware & Liz’s wedding as an example. Immediately upon creating the “SmalleyWedding” folder on my hard drive, I then insert four more subfolders:

  • Favs
  • Finals
  • LR (I create a new LightRoom catalogue for each wedding and session).
  • RAW- within the RAW folder there’s another subfolder called “5starred”- it’s where I put all of my top picks after culling my images in PhotoMechanic.

The “Favs” folder is just for any images that really pop out at me as I’m editing, so if I wanted to share a quick photo to Facebook before the blog post, that’s where it goes. The “Favs” folder usually ends up getting deleted after all is said and done because all of the final images are in the “Finals” folder, so “Favs” is just redundant.


Now. One more breakdown. I also divide up the “Finals” folder to make finding particular images within a wedding day easier. Here’s my group of subfolders within “Finals”:

  • 1-Favorites (these are all of the images I’ve chosen for the blog, album, submissions, etc)
  • 2-Getting_ready
  • 3-Bride_groom_portraits
  • 4-Bridal_party
  • 5-Ceremony
  • 6-Family_formals
  • 7-Reception_details
  • 8-Reception


I know it may seem like a lot of extra work to export the batch of images and THEN have to separate them into different folders in Bridge, but again: the goal is to make locating images later a breeze for me AND my clients. And actually, the images that go into my “1-Favorites” folder are selected during the editing process in LightRoom- I just rate those particular images with 5 stars, so when I’m done editing, I export the 5 starred images FIRST, and then the rest of them afterwards. Sorting the rest of the images in Bridge literally takes less than 5 minutes.

Phew! That was really long. But hopefully it was helpful! As always, if you have any questions, sound off in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Lauren Jolly - February 3, 2014 - 2:20 pm

This was so helpful, Abby! I’ve always kind of wondered if my way was the best way and how other photographer do this. Thanks for the insight and I’ll probably be switching some stuff around!

Kristina - January 25, 2014 - 12:51 pm

My parents had the same issue with me Abby and then keeping a house clean! It’s such a big struggle!

Jessica Bulloss - January 24, 2014 - 1:10 pm

Wow! This is so helpful! I also have adult ADHD and totally related to all of this and LOVED how you put it together. Will defiantly be changing my own organizational system! Thank you!!

Erin Schrad - January 23, 2014 - 3:51 pm

So you haven’t ever had an issue where you have files or folders named the same thing? I would worry about having two Jack & Jane couples or more than one “SmithWedding”, which is why I incorporated dates into all my file naming just to avoid that. So even if image files are in different folders, the only way there are two files with the same name anywhere on my system is if they are copies of the same image. So I usually do “YYYYMMDD-ShootName-Seq#” for my image file names, and then folders are dated as well to keep things chronological. “YYYYMMDD – Shoot Name”.

So is this what happens when OCD meets ADD?? Because, girl, I have that same desire to be super clean and organized like a model home, but in reality am overwhelmed by the process! There is this whole room in my house that I basically pretend is not there! Honestly, if I could just bring myself to throw some things away, that would probably be half the battle. But then I feel like I should be disposing of it more properly… either recycling or donating or something. So that impedes my process. I just need a declutter fairy!! (And don’t get me started on paper filing… ugh!)

Emily - January 23, 2014 - 10:57 am

This is the third post I’ve seen about photo organization in two days… I think the universe is trying to tell me something!

Alex Hinders - January 23, 2014 - 9:40 am

Well, you’ve inspired me to reorganize on my day off today ;)