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Registration for A Practical Wedding Workshop is LIVE!

It’s Thursday! And it’s 10 am(ish), which means seats for A Practical Wedding Workshop on September 8th are officially on sale! This week has been a total rush for a number of different reasons (more on that soon, I promise), and I’m so excited to launch this most recent, re-vamped workshop! But less talk from me, more clicking for y’all. Here are the links you’ll need:

Ready to pull the trigger? REGISTER HERE!

Want to learn more? See the WORKSHOP WEBSITE!

If you register before Monday, 7/21 at 5:00pm, use the code SUNRISE for $100 off your seat price! Because early bird specials are for winners.

I can’t wait to meet you guys!

Baltimore, MD wedding photographer- Abby Grace

P.S. Recognize this most photogenic couple? They’ll be there, too :). And you’ll get to photograph them!

**UPDATE** The September 8th Practical Wedding Workshop is SOLD OUT! Keep an eye out this fall for the next workshop date announcement :).

Paleo-friendly cold-brew iced coffee!

I’m not usually one to rave about the taste of coffee- I prefer tea, when it comes to actually enjoyment of the thing itself, but I really do like the ritual of coffee. But then I tried cold-brew coffee last summer and it changed my view, at least on the “iced” side of things.

Cold brew coffee is coffee that’s been- you guessed it- brewed with cold water instead of hot. The result is a super smooth finish without the bitter aftertaste you normally get with iced coffee. It’s the perfect drink on hot summer days! Recently, I’ve been replacing my morning cup of [insert hot beverage of choice] with this concoction! And because Trader Joe’s now sells cold brew in bottles, I can have it any time I want! The other alternative was to a) make it myself, which takes 12-18 hours, or 2) go to the coffee shop on Bald Head Island (7 hours away), which is pretty much the only other place I could find it.

Paleo-friendly cold brew iced coffee recipe- Abby Grace

In order to make a Paleo-friendly serving of this deliciousness for yourself, all you need is:

  • 1 part Trader Joe’s cold brew coffee concentrate (it comes out sporadically, so if you see it, buy it!)
  • 2 parts unsweetened almond milk (also from TJ’s)
  • 1 semi-heaping teaspoon of brown sugar (or more, if you like it sweeter!)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Combine all of your ingredients, stir it up and enjoy. Striped straws add a certain level of cuteness, but that’s up to you.

If you don’t care about it being Paleo, just use 2% or whole milk instead with the same ratio. Feel free to sub in a different sweetener, but I LOVE using brown sugar! It gives the whole thing a little bit richer of a flavor. I imagine you could also throw in some chocolate syrup to make it more like an iced mocha! Too bad Hershey’s Syrup isn’t Paleo.

Vanessa Chupp - July 17, 2014 - 8:27 am

yum! I love Iced Coffee – i’ll have to try this kind from Trader Joes when we are in the US next week! : )

Jean - July 15, 2014 - 9:24 pm

Sounds delicious. Wish we had a Trader Joes here. I would love that cold brew concentrate!

ashley mitchell - July 15, 2014 - 10:40 am

I make this same stuff! I also add in some mocha protein powder and blend it together with unsweetened coconut milk and the sugar – it makes it taste like a mocha milkshake. It’s pretty divine. Whole Foods also has the cold brewed iced coffee from time to time if you have one nearby! :)

Monday Mash-Up

Whew. What a weekend! Ours felt like a total roller coaster- up up up, then dooooown, then up again. Matt & I went driving on Friday as part of our date night and just happened to drive past this home in town that I’ve loved since childhood. There was a new “For Sale” sign out front, with a “Just Reduced!” tag on it, so of course I screamed and asked Matt to pull over while I checked on RedFin to see the new price. It was a total pipe dream- this house is my DREAM house, and as such, was definitely more than we were even thinking of spending whenever/if ever it comes time for us to buy a house.

But being the impulsive, excitable person that I am, and seeing that the price had recently dropped by a full 10%, I told Matt we should call our realtor, just to check it out. And then I let myself dream a little too much, imagined us living in this gorgeous house, raising kids there, rocking grandchildren on the southern wraparound porch. You know, doing that thing that you’re not supposed to do with pipe dreams; getting your hopes up.

After a whirlwind 24 hours of crunching numbers, praying, and seeking out wisdom from our parents, it became increasingly clear that the answer was “no.” Which wasn’t a surprise at all, but when you’re a dreamer and you get your hopes up so high they’re in the clouds, coming back down can be pretty rough. Even if it was only a 24 hour come-down.

But it was a good experience! Prior to this weekend, we had NO idea what the home-buying process looked like. And now I’m well versed in terms like “PMI.” So sexy.  In all seriousness, I’m glad for the experience. It was a bummer allowing myself to put stock in unrealistic dreams, but now we have something to hopefully look forward to someday! After all, I’m pretty sure almost no one buys their dream house as their or her first home, right? (Just say “yes”).

Moving on! As always, lessons learned/things that transpired over the past week:

  • My work is on Buzzfeed!! Our Harry Potter styled wedding shoot is from almost three years ago, yet I continue to get hits on my blog from it. Last week, a rep from Buzzfeed contacted me about using it for one of their features, and they ended up using four of my images! I feel like this means I’ve truly made it as a photographer- Buzzfeed is the 2014 hallmark of being successful. (kidding).
  • I love it when people are total jerks to me on the road. Why? Because then I write down their license plate number and call the sheriff’s office to report their reckless driving. So go ahead, Mr. Mercedes-Benz; swerve in front of me and then stomp on your brakes to let me know how angry you are about me taking a quick call on my cell phone (hands-free, I may add). I’m sure the five minutes of self-righteousness that you feel is totally worth it when you get a warning in the mail from the police.:)< That’s a passive-aggressive smiley face, in case you couldn’t tell.
  •  Did you see the new workshop + date announced last week? This is a shameless plug for that very thing. Registration starts this Thursday morning at 10am!
  • Realtors, most of y’all need to step up your game with these photos you take to put up with online listings. Some of them are downright awful, and if the photos are terrible, chances are I’m not getting the right impression of the house, meaning I won’t come over to see it. Meaning I definitely won’t buy it. Like this listing- of the first five images, FOUR of them are photos of the entryway steps/floor. Really?

On a totally unrelated note, I’m so thankful for all of the encouragement y’all have sent my way regarding Friday’s post. It’s crazy scary to change a business model that’s worked well over the past four years, but it’s where I know I’m being led and we’re just so dang excited to see what the next few years hold!

Here’s a pretty little hint at part of the new packaging my anniversary couples will be seeing in the future! I’m in love!

Fine art portrait photographer print packaging- Abby Grace

Hannah Rancourt - July 17, 2014 - 3:04 pm

Just 4 images on Buzzfeed? I think I saw 7!!! Way to go!

Tedde - July 15, 2014 - 12:09 am

I feel like you might love to hate this:

Jean - July 14, 2014 - 1:29 pm

Sorry you were so disappointed about the house. You and Matt will find the right one when you are ready to take on that kind of commitment. Glad you have your parents nearby to advise you. Congrats on Buzzfeed publishing your photos! You are a fabulous photographer!

Being bold and making serious changes

That word- bold- it’s one I’ve heard a lot lately. A friend recently described me as such when it comes to my faith, someone else used it to describe the way I ask questions, and just yesterday my designer used it to describe my personality as a whole. That word just keeps cropping up. I like being described that way, it makes me feel brave.

And yet somehow, that boldness never seems to make it over into my photography business. It’s like I’ve compartmentalized boldness into other areas of my life, but refuse to let it spill over to my job. Making decisions when it comes to my business has always been excruciating- I spent an entire HOUR one time debating between a particular editing style for a single photo. I put all these constraints on myself based on what I see other people doing (we all do that, I know I’m not unique in this), and I get so scared of declaring what I want because I’m worried what other people photographers will say.

New York City, Central Park anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

Newsflash, Abby: it doesn’t really matter what other photographers are saying. It matters what my CLIENTS are saying. It matters how happy my brides, grooms, and anniversary couples are. If they’re thrilled with what I’m giving them, the idle chattering of others in the industry doesn’t make a lick of difference. Also, how narcissistic of me to think that others photographers are even paying attention? They’re almost certainly so occupied with making their own businesses successful that they don’t have time to give thought to what a random photographer from Virginia is doing. Ha! That’ll knock me down a few pegs.

I’m sure anyone who reads the blog with any level of consistency has noticed an upswing in the frequency of anniversary sessions posted here, and that’s not a coincidence. My heart’s been changing over the past year from caring solely about weddings, to desiring anniversary sessions as well. But… I don’t just want to shoot them occasionally. (This is where that whole issue of “boldness” comes in- I haven’t seen anyone else state this kind of vision for their business, which makes me scared to be the first. But there’s a certain level of AWESOMENESS with being the first one that I know of, so here we go.)

My perfect vision for my business would be this: a handful of weddings each year with clients who are the perfect fit for my business, with the rest of my schedule devoted to photographing Anniversary Experience sessions.

Las Vegas anniversary photographer- Abby GraceThere, I said it! I love weddings and can’t imagine giving those up- my brides & grooms are the best and I absolutely treasure the opportunity to photograph their big days! But my heart for my couples also goes so far beyond their wedding. I want them to have, as the saying goes, a marriage more beautiful than their wedding day. I believe that the Anniversary Experience is a way to help that vision continue in the years following Day 1 of their marriage- the opportunity to document just how far they’ve come.

This isn’t the kind of change that happens overnight- I’m absolutely still accepting weddings! There’s just more intention behind the process, and the number of weddings I’m booking for next year and beyond will be a bit lower than in years past. It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. I both want to pop a bottle of champagne and hyperventilate. Change is hard, and jumping into the unknown without anyone else’s past success to cling to for hope? That’s scary.

But I didn’t quit my secure, comfortable corporate job to pursue a career in “being safe.” I did it pursue something I love, something that makes my heart swell with affection, something that quickens my pace and brightens my eyes. Both weddings and anniversaries do that for me, so here we go.

Let’s do this.

New York City, Central Park anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

And in case you’ve been considering a session, feel free to click HERE to learn more about the Anniversary Experience. It’s a work in progress as we make site adjustments!

Hannah Rancourt - July 17, 2014 - 3:09 pm

I think this is an awesome idea! You are SO good behind the lens and you really have a talent for photographing each couples love so naturally. I’m so glad you have decided to shoot more of the everyday life and not just the big days:-)

Kathryn Grace - July 14, 2014 - 1:32 pm

Go Abby! I love your focus on anniversary sessions. And other photographers ARE seeing your work… and loving it. :-)

paulina - July 12, 2014 - 10:49 pm

so excited to start seeing more of these!! =)

Marcelle Calder - July 11, 2014 - 10:16 pm

Abby you are an amazing photographer and I love this post because you poured out your heart with thoughts and fears that I too have had. I’m cheering for you 100% Can’t wait to see amazing things happen for you!!

Jean - July 11, 2014 - 2:53 pm

You are BOLD indeed! I treasure the photos you took of our 35th anniversary! You are so talented and I am so proud of you, my sweet granddaughter!

Nicole Regan - July 11, 2014 - 12:34 pm

I love this! As a very new photographer and army wife, and not shooting weddings right now but thinking of where I would want my business to progress, I have thought a lot on the things you have shared about your passion! And I love it! Very inspiring and challenging to really choose the right fit for you and pursue what you’re passionate about! And I would LOVE to have an anniversary session with you in the future!!!

Julie - July 11, 2014 - 11:01 am

I love this post. You are inspirational!

Abbeigh Blake - July 11, 2014 - 10:42 am

Love, love, LOVE this!! I can’t wait to schedule our anniversary session with you!

Tina - July 11, 2014 - 10:34 am

I am so excited for you Abby! For going after what it is you really want, putting it out there and not being afraid to change the workings of your business! It’s scary but so exciting and I know you will succeed in this :) Congrats on being BOLD!!

Mandy - July 11, 2014 - 10:22 am

Abby, I recently made this jump. I jumped from 27 weddings a year, to focusing my business more on families and children. Everyone told me it was stupid because “weddings are where all the money is.” but I continued with my new flight and you know what? I just landed a gig with the Women’s Healthcare Group/Lancaster General Hospital photographing billboards for them. And now we’re talking about me becoming their contracted photographer. FOLLOW YOUR HEART. He has a plan for you, and He will make it work. Just keep doing your best and staying true to yourself!

Samantha Laffoon - July 11, 2014 - 10:15 am

Abby, I love that you’re doing this! You’re inspiring the rest of us to take chances and be bold and do what the Lord is calling us to do with this business. I admire you. I love this!

Sarah (Danaher) Bradshaw - July 11, 2014 - 9:40 am

Love this, and SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! It’s absolutely a perfect fit!!!

Wendy Wade - July 11, 2014 - 9:28 am

You SO have this, girl. I think it’s an awesome idea and know you will be immensely successful in it. This post reminds me of a favorite quote “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough” Go big baby! And one day, maybe Jason and I will participate :)

dad - July 11, 2014 - 9:26 am

Bold huh? I think I like it….no I think I will go out on a limb and say I know I like it, I think.

Terri Baskin - July 11, 2014 - 9:25 am

Yes! I love this! Congrats on being bold and congrats on leaning on your faith to conquer any doubt that you may have been feeling about this move.

Rebekah Hoyt - July 11, 2014 - 9:21 am

I am SO unbelievably proud of you, Abby! Way to follow your heart and pursue your dreams! I cannot wait to see your business flourish as you focus more on what really makes your heart happy :)

Urška Majer - July 11, 2014 - 9:19 am

Congrats on the boldness :)

Tiffany Heidenthal - July 11, 2014 - 9:17 am

I think this is an AWESOME decision for you! And I know that one day, Erik and I will be in front of your camera for our anniversary, too!

Deborah Zoe - July 11, 2014 - 9:17 am

GET IT GIRL:)! I can’t wait to see where this takes you!!

Kelsey DeWitt - July 11, 2014 - 9:16 am

Yay! So happy for you lady :) I can’t describe how much I treasure our anniversary photos!

Announcing: A Practical Wedding Workshop!

Eeee! I’m so excited for this! After taking some time to mull over last year’s workshop, what worked, what fell on it’s face, and what *could* work if tweaked, I’m excited to announce the second Abby Grace Workshop on Monday, September 8, 2014!

When I first started shooting weddings, I didn’t have a game plan. And I desperately needed one. Instead of walking in calm and collected, I entered a bridal suite barely able to mask my desperation and panic. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I literally lost sleep in the days and weeks leading up to weddings from nerves that I wouldn’t be prepared, that I’d be thrown into a situation I didn’t know how to handle and that as a result, I’d ruin someone’s wedding photographs.

I have to believe that I wasn’t alone in feeling like that, so this year’s workshop is quite a bit different than my last one. Rather than trying to give you a generic snapshot of what it looks like to own a business, we’re going to be concentrating on the day-of aspect of being a wedding photographer. What kind of light should you be looking for during the “getting ready” portion of the day? How do you handle yourself when it feels like you’re drowning? How can you take a seemingly hopeless portrait location and turn it into something that works FOR you?

But just as importantly, we’re going to talk about the little things that, when combined, can make for a huge difference. The way you interact with the grandmother of the bride, using specific language when posing the groomsmen vs. the bridesmaids, how to calm an anxious bride. Things that often slip under your conscious radar, but that can make all the difference in the world.

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After several workshops with my favorite photographers and nearly five wedding seasons under my belt, I’ve got my game plan down pat. And it’s WITHIN that structure that I’m able to find creativity. When you’re running around with your hair on fire, it’s hard to stop and consider “how can I make these portraits even more artistic, and make my clients feel so loved at the same time?” But now that I have a process, now that I’m no longer struggling to tread water, I can actually make progress. There’s freedom within my formula, and I want you guys to be able to experience that same wedding day peace.

Thus, A Practical Wedding Workshop was born. We’ll talk through the wedding day extensively, going over the “how-to’s” of each aspect, addressing challenges that may surface and how to work around them. We’ll have a bride & groom available later in the afternoon so that I can explain in-depth how I pose my couples, and each attendee will leave with a new head shot. We’ll round out the evening with dinner and an extensive open Q&A where we can talk about anything I didn’t cover during the day, whether that’s editing, networking, websites, you name. Nothing’s off the table.

You can learn even more by checking out the workshop website! Registration for the September 8th workshop goes live next Thursday, July 17 at 10am. Seats are $550 and are limited to 10 attendees, but the earlybird code “SUNRISE” gets you $100 off your seat if you register within the first five days.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions! I’m SO stoked for this, and I can’t wait to see the growth that happens as a result!

Kylie Nicholson - August 6, 2014 - 9:52 pm

Oof- if I wasn’t going to be back in California at that point, I’d be there!

Terri - July 10, 2014 - 3:30 pm

Can you come and do one in the UK pleaseeeeeeee :) xxx

Terri - July 10, 2014 - 3:26 pm

This sounds awesome!!

Chelsea Anderson - July 10, 2014 - 8:27 am

I’m definitely going to be praying and thinking about coming!

Mary - July 10, 2014 - 8:16 am

My alarms are set and I will be anxiously waiting for the clock to hit 10!!! SO EXCITED!!!! :)

Tiffany Heidenthal - July 10, 2014 - 8:02 am

Congrats this looks awesome!