You were probably expecting a Monday Mash-Up this morning, weren’t you? I’m really sorry about this, but we’re interrupting our regularly-scheduled program for something stunning :).

I can’t remember how I first stumbled on Richelle’s Instagram feed, but I’m so glad I did. See, she and her sweet husband Eric were chasing a dream they’d both been talking about for years- after their wedding, they picked up and moved to Paris, France for six months. Why? Because they’d always wanted to. As Richelle is a wedding photographer and Eric is a cinematographer + actor, they had the flexibility to be able to swing it. And if not now, then when? As if I didn’t already have a complete girlcrush on Richelle, those sentiments alone would have done it.

Too often we dream big, but then tell ourselves “one day, years from now, I’ll do that thing I really want to do.” And then we never get around to it, do we? That’s why I love Eric & Richelle- they just DID IT. They had a dream and they chased it, a crazy dream to live in the prettiest city on earth, to recklessly pursue adventure with the one they love most.

Eric, Richelle, I can’t thank you enough for such an incredible morning in my favorite place in the world. The fact that after so many years together, you still look at one another with the eyes of fresh love? It’s inspiring. They way you shamelessly flirt, it’s endearing. I can’t tell you how much I loved my morning with you both, and I’m crossing my fingers we’ll meet again! Hopefully in Paris. Or anywhere in France, really. I’m not picky.

Paris, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France anniversary session in St Germain-des-Prés- Abby Grace Photography

Recognize that whole “Photog Friday” name? I unabashedly lifted that from my sweet friend Rebekah Hoyt, who’s no longer blogging for photographers. Don’t worry! I got her blessing :).

You guys know I love any excuse to explore somewhere new. And over the past few years, after having photographed in Vicenza, Venice, Rome, Marseille, Paris (three times, pinch me!), London, Stamford, Surrey, Doolin, Galway and Edinburgh, there are few items I won’t travel without. They’re part of what make travel so enjoyable to me, and I’m excited to share a bit more about them with y’all today!

First up: my ThinkTank backpack. This thing, oh my gosh. I won’t travel anywhere without it! I found it last year at the WPPI tradeshow, and though it was more than I’d been planning on spending, I now realize it was worth EVERY penny. This backpack is sturdy, it protects my gear, it’s pretty comfortable to wear (which is important, when you’re wandering all of God’s creation), and it’s inconspicuous. That last bit was the most important to me. As a frequent solo traveler, I do everything I can to avoid sticking out. I don’t want to draw attention to myself as a foreigner, because in places like Rome and Paris, being a foreigner often means your targeted by pickpockets or gypsies. This backpack doesn’t scream “EXPENSIVE PHOTO EQUIPMENT INSIDE,” which is a big factor in, y’know, NOT getting mugged.

How to travel as an international photographer- Abby Grace Photography

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Second: my Kelly Moore bag! It has the benefit of looking like an ordinary purse, so when I do tote my camera around town, again, I’m not advertising that I’m a good candidate for being mugged. It’s not nearly as comfortable as my ThinkTank backpack, but if all I’m carrying is extra film and a light meter, it’s not bad! I pretty much always carry my bag with the long shoulder strap so that it’s cross-body- it saves my shoulders from aching!

How to travel as an international photographer- Abby Grace Photography

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Third: a makeup bag, chocked full of film. The different compartments make it easier to organize according to film speed! My favorite film stocks for travel are Fuji 400H and Portra 800. I picked up this particular makeup bag at Target!

How to travel as an international photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Fourth: a little photo album! This one’s new with my most recent Europe trip. The idea came to me after realizing that when people would ask to see my work, I couldn’t pull up anything online unless I was connected to wifi as I don’t have international data. So I just bring along thing little album of 4×6 prints- how darling is this Kate Spade album?? It holds 80 prints and I had so much fun picking out my favorites!

How to travel as an international photographer- Abby Grace Photography

There you have it! My favorite items to travel with as a photographer. I’m always looking for new travel hacks, though, so if you have a secret travel accessory, I want to hear about it!

Also… registration for the August 3rd and November 9th dates of A Practical Wedding Workshop is LIVE! The past dates for APWW’s have all sold out, and there’s a $100 early bird discount with the code PROSECCO- so what are you waiting for? Jump on it! To learn more about the workshop, go HERE, and to register, go HERE!

A Practical Wedding Workshop by Abby Grace

  • Jean - I have to admit I have been a little concerned about your solo travels, but you seem to have it all under control. You are one smart cookie! Love the little album. So neat! Love you.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Field - I want to see your photos from the last trip! I also want to see the photos from our last trip! Aka MomReplyCancel

This gorgeous Parisian ballerina requires no introduction if you’ve seen our first and second shoots together. It’s always a “well, duh we’ll shoot!” if I’m in Europe, and Sophie never disappoints! She has the classic elegance of Coco Chanel, which I think is why I haven’t gotten tired of photographing her in black, yet. It’s been such a joy to see her technique and form develop over the last year and a half, and I am SO excited to see where ballet takes her over the next few years.

Sophie, you’re stunning. I can’t thank you enough for both hosting me in Paris and making time for another shoot! Next time,Versailles?:)

Enjoy this stunning Paris, France ballerina shoot at the Pont Alexandre III and the Jardin des Tuileries at the Musée du Louvre!

Paris, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyParis, France ballerina fine art photographer- Abby Grace Photography

I had this list when I started my photography business, it was written on a series of 4-5 yellow Post-It notes, written in the confines of the office where I worked at the time. I had a list of what I’d deemed “attainable” goals, and then another list of what I referred to as my “yeah right” goals. As in, “yeah right, that’ll NEVER happen.”

And you know what? I’ve checked off every. single. one of those “yeah right” goals.

Stamford, England wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

We talked a couple weeks ago about how I’m an optimistic realist- I like hoping for the best, but I also deplore the crushing despair of dreams that never came true, so I try to keep my hopes grounded on something solid. I’ll never tell a someone to reach for something I absolutely know they’re not capable of (i.e. encouraging someone who’s tone deaf to pursue a degree in music), because I don’t want to pump them full of hot air, only to be let down HARD when that balloon deflates. Instead, I’d rather encourage them in an area I know they’re absolutely capable in, to see them FLY as they maximize on their strengths and gifts!

The longer I do this, the more I realize that my purpose isn’t photography-specific; my purpose is PEOPLE-specific, and photography is the vessel that I use to serve people. And I think keeping that perspective in mind, it makes the whole business of goal-seeking a lot easier, because I know that if I don’t speak at THAT conference, or shooting a wedding in THAT country, I am not a failure. Because I’m still serving people, still working toward the vision my business is founded on, and THAT is where the success comes from.

Annapolis wedding and anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

All that being said, I think goals are awesome! And I think taking the time to craft a list of “attainables” and “yeah rights” is really healthy, because when you look back in five years, it will blow your mind all the items you’ll be able to cross off. And it’ll also blow your mind all the things you’ll be able to laugh at, because they’ll no longer matter to you! One of the goals on my list from 2011 was “create the next ‘big’ pose.” Like the whole “holding a wedding detail in your cupped hands, and cropping the shot from shoulder to hip.” That was big in 2011-2012, and I wanted to be the author of whatever the next cupped-hands-shot was going to be. These days, I couldn’t care less about that! Why? Because it’s a fame-seeking goal, not a creativity- or people-seeking goal.

DC ballerina photographer- Abby Grace

Here we go! First, my list of “attainables,” or things that’s aren’t totally ridiculous to hope for:

  1. Secret project #1 (you’ll find out about these this fall and winter!)
  2. Shoot in Europe again this year!
  3. Continue teaching the A Practical Wedding Workshop series
  4. Purchase a new back-up camera body
  5. Have a full wedding published in print
  6. Sell a select number of my fine art Europe prints in an online shop
  7. Learn how to shoot in-studio, to expand my ballerina work
  8. Start playing with film again at weddings
  9. Have a new anniversary session done with my own hubs:)
  10. Find a business coach

And then my “yeah right” goals!

  1. Secret project #2
  2. Have my work featured on the cover of a magazine (you can laugh, it’s ok!)
  3. Teach a photography workshop in France
  4. Book a wedding at Lake Como, Italy
  5. Book an Anniversary Experience session in Salzburg, Austria
  6. Speak yearly at conferences for creatives, but only with the right intentions. Continue working at keeping my pride out of the equation
  7. Photograph Keenan Kampa (I grew up dancing at the same studio as Keenan! SHE’S AMAZING)
  8. Photograph a wedding designed by Hey Gorgeous Events

Chianti, Italy wedding and anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

So there you have it! My crazy, audacious goals. I’d love to hear yours, too!

  • Stephen Gosling Photography - 7. Learn how to shoot in-studio, to expand my ballerina work

    I can help with that.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy Wade - Hello… you TOTALLY got that. And I’m happy to watch you soar to new heights. You’re constantly amazing me! :)ReplyCancel

  • Jean - You are amazing and your granny is so proud of you.ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - Oh, Abby. I love your honesty, your aspirations, and the fact that you were able to cross off so many goals that SEEMED audacious at the time. You gave me some soul fuel to keep pushing today. :)ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - Abby, your “yeah right” goals are absolutely attainable for the talent you have!! Look how much you’ve done already — I can’t wait to see your work on a cover and be like “I KNOW HER” (reminiscent of Buddy the Elf)!ReplyCancel

  • Nikki Santerre - One of my favorite things about you is your honesty. I absolutely love what you said about not worrying about speaking at a conference or shooting in a different country, as long as you are still serving people. It’s such an admirable stance in this industry. Also, those “Yeah, Right” goals are totally attainable! When you launch that workshop in France, sign me up!!! <3ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Bradshaw - I love this. And thanks for the challenge— it’s been a LONG TIME since I dreamed up a “yeah right” list for myself for business and photography. In fact, I think it was before Buck and I started dating, which is almost 3 years ago. It’s time to make that list again. Thanks so much… I really needed this.ReplyCancel

  • Spring Goals » Elizabeth Nord Photography - […] by Abby Grace’s blog post the other day on goals, I decided to write down my own set of goals for myself and my […]ReplyCancel

  • The One Day List » Sarah Bradshaw Photography | Blog - […] and second nature had taken a back seat. This realization began the previous week, when my friend Abby posted about her Big Goals. Her post reminded me that there’s a difference between dreaming and planning, and for the […]ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Oh my gosh you know Keenan Kampa too?!?! Small world!! We were in the same homeschool group growing up! She is so fantastic!!ReplyCancel

  • Monday Mash-Up » Modern International Wedding Photographer - […] what else is crazy? Getting to check off an item on my list of big goals- I’m going back to France this summer! With an Anniversary Experience session in Paris and a […]ReplyCancel

Happy Monday, my friends! It’s a beautiful day here in Sterling, and yesterday I squealed like a four-year-old when I discovered a row of PEONY BUSHES growing along the side of my neighbors house!! It’s on the path that I usually take the puppies in the morning and folks, I took time to stop and smell the [peonies]. There are deep purple ones, light pink ones, and white ones- they’re exquisite! THIS is what I love about Spring- it’s like nature takes joy in finding little ways to surprise me with unexpected color, the fragrance of my favorite flowers. And I can’t wait for more fluffy bouquets like this one! Remember this Bald Head Island wedding? Cuz it was a doozy. I love this season!

Bald Head Island wedding at Old Baldy lighthouse- Abby Grace Photography

This past Saturday I had the biggest privilege of second shooting for one of my favorite DC photographers, Kate Headley! If you’re not already following Kate’s Insta account, do it. She is insanely talented and is such an artist. It was mind blowing to watch her work, and I learned so much just from seeing how she manages all her film on a wedding day. Plus, she’s crazy fun. And that makes any wedding day amazing!

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

  • My dad is a nut. My parents are in Paris right now after having spent the two previous weeks throughout Austria, Germany and Italy, and I received the most cooky voicemail from him on Saturday night- apparently they met a British couple at a pub in Munich, my dad gave this couple my business card, and said that when this couple hires me to shoot their wedding in England, the only “finder’s fee” he wants is to be reimbursed for the two beers he bought them. No problem, Dad!
  • I think half the memory on my phone is full of the random notes to self I make using the Notes app. I’ll be driving down the road and a brilliant idea for a blog post will hit me, and because I’m driving, all I have to do is tell Siri:”Note to self: wedding day make-up essentials for photographers.” Otherwise I’ll forget, and then that brilliant blog post will never happen.
  • But the problem with that is that I ALSO write down blog ideas in my notebook, in my Day Designer, on random scraps of looseleaf paper, etc. I probably have 100+ solid blog post ideas floating around but they’re so scattered, I can’t seem to gather them when I need them!
  • So this week’s project is consolidation; I’ll be taking time each day to go through each source (looseleaf paper, notebook, phone, planner) and pull everything together into one big list of blog post idea.
  • I desperately need an office manager, don’t I?

Here’s a fun preview from my time with Ben & Camille! We took an hour yesterday for a sort of training shoot with my second shooter for the 2015 season, and it was so much fun! I can’t wait for all my wedding couples this year to meet Ethan- he’s awesome.

Reston Anniversary Session- Abby Grace Photography

Some link love!

  • Sarah Bradshaw is offering a workshop for second shooters! If you’re looking to get into the world of second shooting, I absolutely suggest checking it out. Sarah is so wise, she’s who I call these days when I have a conundrum and need a second opinion. She’s an amazing teacher, and I’m better her workshop’s going to be phenomenal. Check it out HERE!
  • I LOVE Periscope! Are you on it? It’s such an awesome way to see other professionals at work, I’ve learned a lot over the last new weeks. My favorite people to follow on Periscope are Natalie Franke (@nataliefranke), Indie Film Lab (@IndieFilmLab), and Jeremy Cowart (@jeremycowart). I’d suggest giving them a follow! I’ve found I prefer to use Periscope for education, rather than just as a means to see little blips into peoples’ lives- I want to LEARN something when I tune into someone’s broadcast. I’d love to hear your favorite people to follow! (PS- if you want to find me, I’m @abbygracephoto)

Let’s try something new… I’d love to have a diverse round-up of awesome, education-rich links for Monday Mash-Up, so if you wrote an amazing blog post within the last week that taught your readers about something, post it in the comments! I’d love to share it next Monday!

  • Jean - Yes, your dad is a nut, but a good nut! I should use my phone more for note taking instead of digging into my purse for a note pad. Old habits die hard! Love the photos. Love you!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay Anne Dransfield - Dang girl, your dad is awesome for your business! :D That’s so exciting!ReplyCancel