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Birfday!

When I was in 2nd/3rd grade, they used to play this gospel-esque version of “Happy Birthday” over the announcements each day and read off all the kids names who were turning a year older. I think I’ll go find that rendition and ask my family to sing it to me tonight over a pyrotechnic birthday cake, yeah? That’s not unreasonable, right?

For real. I LOVE my birthday! It always seems to pass in an-out-of-body experience kind of way- does anyone else get that? I wish I’d spent time collecting photos from my parents old albums for this post, but alas. Next year, definitely! Now, let’s review some of my favorite/most memorable birthdays:

December 11th, 1987: being born. I’d say that was a pretty big deal.

December 11th, 1990: my 3rd birthday party- we decorated gingerbread cookies! It’s also the same birthday at which I found my best friend at the time, Kelly, opening my birthday presents under the table. Cue: tantrum. And my friend from up the street, Julia (pronounced Ju-ya when you’re three years old), brought me a can of Juicy Juice because it was my FAVORITE! Remember when Juicy Juice came in cans??

December 11th, 1992: My mom had been telling me for years that you couldn’t go to kindergarten until you were five. So on my 5th birthday, I got up, got dressed for school, put on my backpack, walked out to the car and waited expectantly, and then sobbed when my mom told me that I’d have to wait until the next school year began to attend. “But you said I just had to be five!!!” I wailed. BREAK MY HEART, WOMAN.

Look! I found a photo!! This is from 1992- we went to go see the Nutcracker! Go ahead, laugh at my stupid hair. It’s ok. (I’m the one all the way to the right, the one with the creepy smile.)

December 11th, 2000: My first year in middle school, which meant my friends papered my locker in wrapping paper and birthday cards. It made me feel super popular.

December 11th, 2002: Snow day! Except I was REAL mad when it happened because I’d been watching everyone else get balloons for their birthday from all their friends and I REALLY wanted some. Balloons were the silly bands of 2002- the more you had, the more popular you were. And I knew if my friends got me balloons, they’d all be deflated by the following day. Womp womp.

December 11th, 2006: First year in college and my birthday falls during exams week. LAME. Fortunately, the only exam I had that day was my biology final, and the final exam was optional and since I already had a B in the class, I didn’t take the exam. And then it ended up being one of TWO B’s I received in college. Dangit. Also, I had my “jury” exam for band- it’s where you play an intense piece you’ve been working on all semester in front of a panel of professors from the music department. Because it was my birthday, I wore a tiara just to spite them for making me play. And none of them ever let me forget it!

December 11th, 2009: Matt surprised me by showing up at dawn in Radford, all the way from George Mason, just to make me blueberry pancakes! And I was on CONSTANT watch for him to propose.

December 11th, 2010: Last single birthday- my cousin and maid of honor, Meg, had my bridal shower that day. It was the BEST!

Our New York trip in November was mostly for my birthday, so here’s a shot of the best gift I’ve ever received (courtesy of J&M).

Justin & Mary, NYC anniversary session

Happy December 11th! And Happy Birthday to my birthday twins Amber and Susan!

Karen Field - December 11, 2012 - 10:13 pm

I remember each of your birthdays. including the ones mentioned above. The most poignant one being the one on your on your 5th birthday. I felt crushed for you that day. I wanted to take you to school to see if they would let you enter that day, just for you! I love the picture above of you and Matt. And I remember the obsession with the tiara, the recital for your bassoon in which you wore a tiara, prior to college. Did you get one when you won homecoming queen at Radford U? Folks, this gal has the stuff to be followed. Watch out for where she goes! Happy Birthday, Abby! Another toast of the champagne from dinner!

Sarah B. - December 11, 2012 - 8:21 pm

Birthday’s are my favorite, too!!

I hope you had a positively delightful day!

Jean - December 11, 2012 - 6:29 pm

While you were at college your grandparents would drive to Radford to celebrate your birthday with you. Red Robin was your your choice for one occasion, but I think Applebee’s was very popular also. Such fun for us!

Dad - December 11, 2012 - 12:52 pm

My favorite daughter was born on this day as I flew down the Dulles toll road in my police car with the lights on and the siren screaming, Abby’s mother was concerned that we were not paying at the toll booth! LOL, happy birthday my princess!

Rebekah Hoyt - December 11, 2012 - 11:08 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABBY! I love reading all of your birthday memories! I can totally relate to the middle school balloon thing. The number of balloons you had to carry around on your birthday was completely equivalent to how popular you were, and I was SO concerned about getting balloons because apparently when you are 13 years old, status is EVERYTHING. It must be so fun to have your birthday during Christmas-time! So fun :)

molly - December 11, 2012 - 10:29 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ABBY!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!

Mia Bjerring - December 11, 2012 - 10:26 am

Happy Birthday, Abby! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Kristin - December 11, 2012 - 10:03 am

Love that image of the two of you. J&M are FAB!

Clarisse - December 11, 2012 - 9:55 am

awwww baby Abby! Adorable! Happy birthday! I love the story about your friend opening up your presents under the table…. that’s something I would do :)

Lauren @ Every Last Detail - December 11, 2012 - 9:46 am

Happy happy birthday!!!!! :)

natalie - December 11, 2012 - 9:42 am

happy birthday! I love the pictures and story line. I hope it is a wonderfully blessed day with your husband! :)

Tara - December 11, 2012 - 9:32 am

Happy birthday! The day after mine! :) Hooray for December babies!

Laura Gordon - December 11, 2012 - 9:32 am

Happy Happy Birthday to you Abby!!!!! <3

Monday Mash-Up

Hello thar, Monday! Is it just me or did this weekend in particular go by way too fast? During wedding season I usually pine for Mondays so that I can dig into the wedding photos from that weekend’s wedding, but with everything slowing down, I’m realizing wedding-free weekends are JUST as awesome! This past Saturday I drove down to Richmond to be a part of Help Portrait, a day around the globe when photographers come together to bless those less fortunate with photos. It was my first time participating and I loved it!! Sometimes I find myself wondering what sort of lasting, significant impact I’m making as a wedding photographer, and then things like Help Portrait remind me that we CAN making a difference. It was so excouraging!

As always, things that transpired over the past week/weekend:

  • When purchasing our Christmas tree, we were expecting to have issues with Lily knocking ornaments off. What we weren’t expecting was for her to develop a palate for pine needles. She scoots her way under and around the back of the tree and gnaws off twigs and needs- it looks like a pine graveyard back there.
  • Also regarding our Christmas tree- remind me to get one with softer needles next year. Holy COW. I can’t even pick up twigs Lily’s chewed off without impaling myself.
  • I know I’ve said this a million times before, but I am so blessed to be married to Matt. He got up early yesterday morning before church, and when I finally rose too I walked out into the living room to find him arriving home with a bag of fresh Panera bagels. Cinnamon Crunch bagels, to be specific. “I thought we’d start your birthday week off right!” he says. I freaking love him.
  • Yesterday I had a three-year-old at church guess that I’n turning 35 tomorrow. Then I went home and applied copious amount of wrinkle cream to my face. (just kidding)
  • I have a love affair with garlic. If a recipe calls for it, I’ll double whatever they call for. And if a recipe doesn’t call for it, then I’ll usually add some in anyways. I love garlic so much I doubt I’ll ever be in danger from vampires. Unless they’re the Twilight-y kind, because apparently garlic doesn’t bother them.

Hey look! Our Christmas tree! I was going for “1940′s”esque, hence the bulbous colored lights and tacky star at the top :). Next year, I think I’ll add gold tinsel!


I made that bear ornament on the left in kindergarten- it’s one of my favorites. And look! Coke in a glass bottle!

Obligatory “puppy’s first Christmas” ornament.

Happy Monday!

Holly - December 10, 2012 - 10:09 pm

What’s the water droplet-looking ornament?

Sarah B. - December 10, 2012 - 4:13 pm

I ALSO LOVE garlic and add tons whenever! :) We are definitely meant to be friends! ;)
Also, have you seen the movie The Christmas Story? Because your tree reminds me of theirs – and I am sure you can get tinsel inspiration from it! :D

Sarah G - December 10, 2012 - 12:46 pm

Happy early Birthday! The BF’s is Wednesday so I need to buy a gift quick! Love the tree – I like to do different themes or colors every year.

molly - December 10, 2012 - 12:09 pm

i love your lights!! trees with ornaments and memories are my favorite!

Lena - December 10, 2012 - 9:39 am

Cinnamon crunch bagels! So proud of him, and oh so jealous! Happy start to the birthday week!

Alexandra {Heart Love Weddings} - December 10, 2012 - 9:26 am

Lily snacking away on the Christmas tree = me lol-ing like crazy!!! : ) And yes, soft needled trees are a must. We weren’t really thinking this year, just picked a pretty tree and were delighted to find (halfway through putting the ornaments on) that the needles were soft as silk and not hard as nails like last year’s tree. Oh, and cinnamon crunch bagels from Panera are THE BEST!!! : ) Happy early Birthday, Abby!! xoxo

Rebekah Hoyt - December 10, 2012 - 9:10 am

I LOVE your lights!! I grew up using smaller lights, but I really love the big bulbs! Your tree looks amazing! Also, we are garlic twins because I am exactly the same as you! I add more than I need to any recipe, and usually add it to everything else, too!! :)

Oh, also, when I ask kids how old they think I am, the guess 15, so you should feel honored that you are actually adult-looking unlike my teenage-looking self :)

Walk Through A Wedding… finally

As we walk through this crazy journey called life, I often feel like time passes in spurts, marked by particular moments in time that MAKE me stop and remember. Sometimes it’s because I force myself to stop, sometimes it’s because of events and happenings along the way. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a person. Or people. Two people, actually, in this particular situation. I first came upon Justin & Mary in early 2011 and from the first blog post, I was hooked. They have this effortless, timeless grace about their photographs that make you want to BE a part of that story. And Mary has this way of writing that rocks you to your core, that sweeps away all pretense and clutter and gets at the heart of the issue. Simply put, I adore them.

Back in June, I had the opportunity to attend one of their Walk Through A Wedding workshops and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my business! Walk Through A Wedding is a two day workshop where Justin & Mary literally walk you through how they shoot a wedding, from the bride getting ready to the reception lighting set-up. I was two weeks into my newfound freedom as a full-time photographer and even though this was my second year shooting weddings of my own (vs. second shooting), I was still struggling to feel confident when it came to carpe diem-ing the actual wedding day. Having the chance to see J&M break down how they do what they do and WHY they do it was an incredible experience for me. And then on the second day of the workshop, we went through the business aspect of things, giving us attendees a rounded out experience. I walked away with my head full to the brim of ideas, totally overwhelmed but ready to take on the world! Even just looking back through my images this morning from the first day have me excited all over again!

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And guess what? Justin & Mary are hosting a three-day ShowIt Live event called The Big Next December 17th-19th! It’s going to be jam-packed with a ton of valuable information (plus a super special guest, Katelyn James!), and all y’all have to do is tune in! Because J&M are hosting the event in their sweet New Haven, CT home, they opened up five spots for an “in-studio audience” spots and I SCREAMED when I got the email telling me I’d won one!! So I’ll be there during the event, and each in-studio attendee will get a chance to chat one-on-one with Justin & Mary about where their business headed and how we can take things to new heights. I cannot WAIT to be inspired and completely overwhelmed all over again- I think this spells good things for 2013 :).

Happy, happy Friday, friends!

Oh, PS- this is probably way narcissistic, but our anniversary session in NYC is up on J&M’s blog! I’m fairly certain that 30% of their page views from this past week have been from me.

Carly Arnwine - December 19, 2012 - 1:14 pm

Abby, these are absolutely stunning. Gorgeous gorgeous photos… very well done! xo

Mia Bjerring - December 8, 2012 - 5:56 am

Abby! These absolutely beautiful! And I’m so happy for you that you get to attend their new workshop in studio! That is so exciting! i seriously love J&M too! And the photos they have taken of you and Matt are gorgeous! I love your outfit, no wait I LOVE your outfit! Where did you get it? Yellow is my favourite colour and I have a cardigan like that but I hate that mine is less yellow! This is so pretty and yuor skirt is just amazing too! Love the colours!

Sarah Goodwin - December 7, 2012 - 3:36 pm

Yay! can’t wait to tune in & hear all about your experience. The Walk Thru was such an asset to my business as well!

Rebekah Hoyt - December 7, 2012 - 1:31 pm

GORGEOUS!!!

Annamarie - December 7, 2012 - 1:11 pm

oh man I am so in love with those shots of the bride inside! breathtaking!

Jean - December 7, 2012 - 10:44 am

I’m so excited for you! Love, love, love the beautiful photos!

Lara - December 7, 2012 - 9:36 am

These are beautiful! Fun to see these pop up. We sure do look cute, don’t we?!

molly - December 7, 2012 - 8:58 am

wow!! these are beautiful!! and that bride looks like Rachel McAdams!! gorgeous!

karen allen - December 7, 2012 - 8:48 am

I am dying to go to one of their ‘walk through a wedding’ workshops and this just makes me want to do it even more! Beautiful images girl!

A different kind of style post

For those of you who remember that random style post I wrote in May, we’re back with another installment! Ethan’s been experimenting with men’s fashion blogging this month and gave himself a project: No Blue December. His favorite color is blue and he wears it all the time, so to challenge himself to get creative, he’s going the entire  month of December without wearing blue. He decided professional photographs might work more in his favor than grainy cell phone photos, so we got together last weekend and documented the first 15 of his outfits. My scatterbrained self was running late (big shock, right?) and as such, we were left with 25 minutes of daylight when I arrived. FAIL. But since attending J&M Walk Through A Wedding in June (finally blogging that tomorrow!), I now feel pretty comfortable with a simple one-light set-up, so I decided we’d give it a go anyways. I’m a natural light photographer through and through, but learning to use off-camera flash for portraits after dark was SUCH a good exercise for me. Now I know that if I HAD to do it again, I could!

Enjoy a smattering of photos from last weekend’s style adventures!

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After 2-3 outfits, we broke out the flash set-up.

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And then my not-so-little brother Seth arrived and wanted to know why we didn’t let him know we were shooting. So he ran back to the house, threw something together, and came back out to have his photo taken, too.

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LOVE that one on the left.

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Ethan, please go model for JCrew.

Dapper On A Dime: menWhile Ethan was inside, my dad lent me his profile for one of my favorite non-traditional shots I’ve ever done. It’s elementary, my dear Watson.
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Bond.

Dapper On A Dime: men

For details on the various pieces from each outfit, check out Ethan’s blog. Happy Thursday!

molly - December 9, 2012 - 3:06 pm

yessss!! this is totally my kind of post! i love that your brother is doing man fashion blogging!!!

Colette - December 6, 2012 - 7:24 pm

Every man wants a James Bond photo :) Speaking of which, he would probably love Daniel Craig’s navy blue tux in Skyfall!

Jean - December 6, 2012 - 6:08 pm

Aren’t you lucky to have two brothers who are not camera shy! Great photos, Abby!

Yuri - December 6, 2012 - 10:26 am

nice work, Abby! i especially love your use of the streetlight as a rim light on the last few, including the silhouettes. great use of the mixed lighting to get natual skin tones and that golden halo :)

Erica - December 6, 2012 - 8:27 am

Love the night shots with that one flash set up! They are great, especially those silhouettes!

Wendy {Weswen Design} - December 6, 2012 - 8:15 am

I adore that picture of your dad. WOWZA it’s awesome!

Before we say “I do”- Brent & Lena’s Maryland farm e-session

They’re just so sweet. Like homemade-southern-tea-kind-of-sweet. Both have a little hint of southern drawl and the same homegrown charm, and with Brent growing up on a farm and Lena raised riding horses, they fell in step almost at once. They first met at a party where Lena and Brent ended up on the porch outside in the rain- Lena was sharing her woes with Brent on the rain-soaked patio, and Brent, being the gentleman that he is, heavily hinted they should go inside. You know, where it was dry. “Your shoes… they’re getting wet,” he’d remind her every few minutes. It was only a few months later that they both knew this was something extraordinary, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

And so it was that Lena found herself standing in the back of a pick-up truck this past August as they surveyed the farmland Brent had just purchased. She heard him ask if she thought this would be a good place to start a home, and as she answered yes and turned around, there he was on one knee. ”How about we start right now?”

Brent and Lena, I absolutely adore you together. I love your playful banter and the way you laugh so easily with one another. You absolutely belong together, and I count myself so blessed to have the chance to document your love! So SO excited for your wedding next summer!

We began at Brent’s family farm in Maryland…

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Lena’s puppy Carlos joined us for a few frames!

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Lena, you have some of the most incredible blue eyes I’ve ever seen!

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Yessss:)

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“You know, I still have those shoes,” she reminisced as we walked down the country road toward the barn.

Francis Yates - December 6, 2012 - 10:03 am

Love the pictures. You captured them very well. Awesome!!!!

Christine - December 5, 2012 - 11:49 am

These are so soft and beautiful Abby! Love them!

Leslie Wohlers - December 4, 2012 - 6:57 pm

You both look so in love and happy! Congratulations Lena!!

Kristen - December 4, 2012 - 3:54 pm

Beautiful! And I love the story + end quote :)

molly - December 4, 2012 - 12:45 pm

these are stunning, abby!

Rici - December 4, 2012 - 12:29 pm

What a sweet story! Love the shoe comments. <3
Very lovely images Abby! ~ Saluti.

Blaize - December 4, 2012 - 10:19 am

Awwww Lena these are so perfect!!!! I absolutely love the story about her shoes getting wet:) adorable!

Lena - December 4, 2012 - 9:57 am

Abby!!! Oh my word I love these so much :) It’s so hard to even pick a favorite! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

Lisa Yates - December 4, 2012 - 9:46 am

Love them all, great pictures, moments and location; and of course my daughter and son in law to be, what’s not to love!

Brittani - December 4, 2012 - 9:17 am

Oh my LOVE!!! So perfect!

Ursha - December 4, 2012 - 8:31 am

Gorgeous! Love the location!