Helloooooo! Good morning, bloggettes, and happy happy Monday! I’ll be honest, I woke up in a total funk today. Perhaps it was the strange dreams I was having about being forced to play in an orchestra without any sheet music, or the weird one I had about a rose-picking relay race, but that saying about waking up on the wrong side of the bed? I WAY embraced that. It’s amazing what a cup of tea, a scroll through your favorite Instagrammers recent photos, and changing into your favorite summertime dress can do for a case of the Mondays though, right? Right!

Mondays should be for encouraging- it’s a new beginning to a new week and everything I failed to accomplish last week? I have another five days to try again! Mondays are a source of redemption for me. Hence why my Monday Mash-Ups typically begin with exclamation points :).

As always, lessons learned/things that transpired over the last week:

  • Let’s discuss the fact that “fruit on the bottom” yogurt is just code for “the yogurt factory was too lazy to stir your dairy product.” Also in need of discussion- that “fruit” on the bottom?” It’s just strawberry jelly. 
  • Perks of your dad being a higher-up with the police department: when there’s a shortage of squad cars, he’s assigned a repo’d Nissan Z as his official police vehicle.
  • We saw the new Percy Jackson movie this weekend! While it wasn’t very true to the book, it was definitely better than the first movie.
  • It’s a fact: coffee is better when you grind it yourself. I mean, I’m not sure about the actual TASTE, because I don’t really care for the gustatory part of a cup of joe, but grinding beans makes me feel like an adult. Like a cooler adult with better taste in underground indie music, who also probably shops exclusively at organic farmers market for groceries. Or something.
  • Also a fact: I am SO EXCITED for fall! Brent & Lena’s wedding reception this past weekend took place at a corn maze and it got me totally jazzed for late September and October! Now that I’m a grown-up and going back to school is no longer associated with fall, I’m free to enjoy the season for all of its awesomeness.

Corn fields make everything better.

Maryland wedding photographer, Abby Grace Photography

There are still a few seats left for next week’s Date with Abby Grace photography workshop! You can snag your seat HERE, and using the code SUNRISE50 will take $50 off your seat! Happy Monday!

  • Natalie - Cornfields really do make everything better… ;) Love that image! Happy Monday!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Who knew that a corn field could hold so much beauty. Love the photo! I’m with you on the fruit on the bottom yogurt but I love my Kurig.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah H. - I’m not a big “fruit” manufactured in my yogurt person. But, at the commissary we are able to get yogurt from Germany that has honey on the bottom and you stir it in. Um… this stuff is good!! :)

    Also, I love corn mazes! :)ReplyCancel

When it comes to computers, I’m about as much of a technological novice as is possible. I’m not a PhotoShop wizard, I have no idea what a “clipping mask” is, and when people start talking about RGB colorspace my eyes glaze over. When I started blogging, I knew I wanted to be able to “do that thing where two pictures are side-by-side.” A diptych, if you want to get fancy. So I tooled around in PhotoShop until I’d learned to put two images onto the same canvas with a small white border around it, and for me, this was a huge accomplishment. The only problem was that it literally took me THREE HOURS to format one engagement session for the blog. Something definitely needed to change.

Then someone clued me into BlogStomp and I almost cried with relief. The $49 price tag was a no-brainer- it was going to give me back my LIFE! Now, instead of agonizing over files for hours in PhotoShop, it takes me no more than 10-15 minutes to take a folder of wedding favorites and pair + resize them for a blog post. I can do images as singles, diptychs, triptychs, up to 40 images into one collage file. Because I set the image width, the photos are perfectly sized for my blog, meaning they load faster and I don’t have to worry about pixelation or weird distortion due to incorrect sizing.

BlogStomp and resizing for the web- Abby Grace Photography

One thing it DID take me a while to pick up on is the Sharpening feature. I was sharpening my images a tad in LightRoom, so I didn’t see a need to do so again in BlogStomp. It wasn’t until I looked at David & Heather’s blog post and high-res images in a PASS gallery side by side that I realized how hazy the blog post photos were (seriously, click both of those links and look at them next to each other- the PASS gallery is so much more crisp!). Sharpening means the images take 1-2 seconds longer to export from BlogStomp, but it’s completely worth the wait. It’s a small adjustment, but it allowed the images in my blog posts to really POP, and because your eyes are no longer straining to force the images into focus, you’re able to enjoy the photographs as you were meant to experience them.

When I was still adding my logo to my images, BlogStomp made it super easy to do so- it was part of my settings, so any time I’d Stomp an image, it would add a little white tab at the bottom with my logo on it. I don’t watermark my photos anymore though because I personally found it a bit distracting as I scrolled through my own blog posts. Many people watermark/include their logo on images within a blog or on Facebook because of the risk of someone stealing their photos, but in my opinion, if someone’s going to go to the lengths of screen-shoting my photos, they’re probably going to crop out the little white tab with my logo on it. So call me crazy, but I’d rather the images look as pretty and distraction-free as possible for everyone else to enjoy, and if my images get stolen? I’ll deal with that person individually.

Something I discovered whilst writing this blog post: despite the fact that I’ve been using “sharpen,” my horizontal images have still been frustratingly hazy. I just made a simple dimension adjustment in BlogStomp from 900 pixels across to 800, and holy cow- what a difference! Look specifically at Thad & Rachel’s cute faces or the detail on her dress to see what I mean. Yep, that’ll be a permanent change.

Thank you, BlogStomp, for giving me back hours of my time, and for making the process of prepping images for a blog FUN instead of daunting! Happy Friday!

  • Tiffany - I LOVE BlogStomp. I started my photography business a year ago, but have been blogging since high school and I can’t believe how much more efficient it makes me. I like to use it for random collages for my blog and Facebook.ReplyCancel

  • Blythe K - LOVE blogstomp!!! I’m going to have to play with it a little again! those last two images are a HUGE difference!! :) thanks for sharing!!! xoReplyCancel

  • Ashley Herrinton - SO good! In our rebranding phase, we’ve been talking about switching up how we post images on the blog. We even had time set aside for Ty to walk me through the photoshop deal. HANK NO! So thankful you posted this! I’ll now have 3 hours of my life back :DReplyCancel

  • Stacey Hammarberg - Abby, great post! Thanks so much for sharing about the sharpening feature, I never knew about that before and am excited to try it out!ReplyCancel

  • Samantha - Thank you so much for this great post! I’ve been debating getting Blogstomp because I was like, nah I don’t take that long in Photoshop…four hours later…You’ve convinced me!ReplyCancel

  • Morgan Leigh - OH MY GOSH…Thank you so much for this post!!! I love how quickly Blogstomp processes my photos, but I have had such a hard time figuring out a formula to make them sharp on the web! I am going to try 800 pixels across for my horizontal photos as well, because my always look hazy compared to the vertical ones! Thank you SO much!!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey DeWitt - Oh my gosh… I can’t tell you how long I’ve been searching for something to help me with prepping images for the blog. This is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Wells - Okay….definitely looking into BlogStomp! I have been a TERRIBLE blogger. I always dread resizing every single photo and “doing that thing where two pictures are side-by-side” (I’ve googled that many times! haha), so I’ve been putting blogs off completely! Thank you so much for sharing! :)ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Glad you found such a wonderful tool. Your photos are always gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Matoli - I just discovered BlogStomp a month ago! I love it. I was also really frustrated with creating blog post, so i purchased “Storyboard” which is a PS script. Although it helped, it was not very user friendly, by BlogStomp on the other hand is amazing! Thanks for discussing the sharpening feature, i have yet to use it because i figured Lightroom sharpening was enough…but there is such a difference!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Grace - YES! That was me! I should have bought BlogStomp ages ago. It saves SO MUCH TIME!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah Hoyt - THANK YOU for showing me the sharpening – that helped me SO much!!ReplyCancel

  • JennyRain - I JUST downloaded BlogStomp on Saturday too — still trying to figure out how to use it and I think I try and mash too many photos together… but I like it already!ReplyCancel

  • Evian - Hey girl! Awesome post, thank you for the information. I have had my eye on blog stomp for a while and I think I will take the plunge and purchase it. If I may ask, what do you do to keep your facebook images sharp??ReplyCancel

  • Simon Dewey - Thank you for sharing this. I do like blogstomp, but haven’t got round to exploring it outside facebook yet.ReplyCancel

  • Las Vegas Wedding Photographers - Saves us SO much time. Love!ReplyCancel

  • Sam - Abby — Just discovered your blog – thank you thank you THANK YOU for this tip!!! Just purchased this morning and am already so obsessed with blogstomp!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - Hello there! So glad I found this. I stumbled across it while looking for help with the sharpening output. Any advice there? I’ve tried no sharpening onto 80! Nothing looks quite right. Thanks for anything you can share!ReplyCancel

  • For Photographers: My 5 Favorite Software/Programs » Modern International Wedding Photographer - […] 2. BlogStomp- this is a great little app to help format images for your blog! I loooove this one! Similar to LR, prior to having BlogStomp, I was formatting all of my images-to-be-blogged within PhotoShop. It took me something like 2 hours the first time I did it. Then I discovered BlogStomp, and it took me a mere 10 minutes to format an entire wedding for the blog. Seriously- if you’re not already using this app, pony up the $49 and get it. It’s going to save you hours! (Read more HERE) […]ReplyCancel

“We wear busy like a badge of honor.” Mary Marantz is one of those people who speaks truth into my life each and every time I see her. The aforementioned quote was something she uttered at the What’s Next Tour, and every so often I find that I need a reminder of it. We wear busy like a badge of honor- like somehow being busy means I’m successful, and that being successful means I’m happy. Success does often lead to fulfillment, but there are times in the midst of wedding season when I allow my creative juices to slowly deplete until my gas light reads Empty. And in those situations, it doesn’t matter how busy I am; in those situations, I’m just plain unhappy. As an artist, I need my creativity like an architect needs drafting paper.

So this morning I made time for personal work, I recharged my batteries. And I’m so very, very glad for the opportunity to have done so. Look out for more from my sunrise shoot with Kristi on the blog in the next few weeks!

Happy Thursday!

I don’t try to hide the fact that I’m not at all talented in the domestic department- decorating our home like a Pottery Barn catalogue? cooking up a sumptuous meal with organic, homegrown ingredients? heck, even managing to vaccuum on a regular basis? Fail, fail, fail. But if there’s one thing I do well, it’s following basic instructions for delicious lemonade. Last summer I discovered the mecca of salads that is SweetGreen, and as I enjoyed my leafy lunch and sipped on their strawberry mint lemonade, it occurred to me that a recipe for said sippy satisfaction was probably online, just waiting for me to discover it. Once I unearthed the instructions and tweaked it to my satisfaction, it became a surefire way to Matt & I’s hearts. You can make it any time of year, but summer strawberries are always better than the ones you get during the winter!

Ingredients:

  • One cup simple syrup (that’s equal parts sugar and water, heated on the stove until the sugar completely dissolves)
  • One pound of strawberries, washed with stems removed
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh lemon juice
  • Four sprigs of mint (I used about 8 leaves)
  • Five to six cups of water, + 1/2 cup
  • A pretty pitcher, clear glass tumblers or mason jars (so everyone can admire the color), and striped straws. Because they make everything taste better.

Strawberry mint lemonade recipe- Abby Grace Photography

Go ahead and make your simple syrup first- it’ll give it time to cool while you’re de-stemming the strawberries and juicing the lemons. I’m not a huge juicer so we don’t have an appliance to relieve the lemons of their juice, but I’ve found this metal lemon squeezer from Harris Teeter to work just fine. It’s much easier and way more efficient than trying to squeeze them with just your hand! If the lemons are a little too firm, just roll them between your palm and the counter before squeezing- it’ll help release more juice.

Strawberry mint lemonade recipe- Abby Grace Photography

Plop the strawberries, mint leaves and 1/2 cup of water into a blender and set to “liquefy”- I let it go for 5-7 seconds, or until I can see that all the berries have been pulled down through the blades.

Strawberry mint lemonade recipe- Abby Grace Photography

Add the simple syrup, strawberry/mint/water combination and lemon juice to a pitcher. Add in 5 t0 6 cups of cold water, depending on how strong you want it. It’s best ICE cold, so make sure to chill it thoroughly. If you’re like me and wait until 5 minutes before your guests arrive and don’t have time to chill thoroughly, stick with 4.5-5 cups of water and just it serve over lots of ice. Make sure to stir it up right before your pour!

Strawberry mint lemonade recipe- Abby Grace PhotographyStrawberry mint lemonade recipe- Abby Grace Photography

*To make what I’ve dubbed the Southern Summer Breeze, try mixing the lemonade with 1/4 to 1/2 champagne- SO delicious. Enjoy!

  • Ashley Herrinton - This sounds SO yummy Abby! I discovered that same lemon squeezer this summer and LOVE it! It seriously makes life so much easier! And no one likes having to pick lemon seeds out of the cup, haha!ReplyCancel

  • ashley barnett - Um this looks amaze. And I was totally reading through like I WANNT PUT ALCOHOL in this (no shame hahaha), and so I was super excited to see your footnote down there! We’ve been making basil lemonade too and it’s DIVINE…just put a few fresh basil leaves into the simple syrup while it’s on the stove and then a “mush” the leaves a little bit inside the glass – heaven! :)ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah Hoyt - It’s SOOOOOO good and so refreshing!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Looks yummy!ReplyCancel

You know that saying “tis better to give than to receive?” It’s SO true! I love giving gifts, surprising someone with something they weren’t expecting. Like going into a restaurant and paying for someone’s meal, then leaving before they can figure out whodunnit? That’s the best feeling ever. So it only makes sense that, with A Date With Abby Grace coming up, I want to give a seat away!

The first workshop I ever attended was one I’d been dying to go to but couldn’t justify the price tag, and when the workshop host reached out to me and offered me a discount on my seat because she knew how badly I wanted to go, I was floored. I know workshops aren’t cheap and they’re not always in the budget, but I also know how valuable they can be for a business. So let’s make this happen for someone else!

Here’s how this is going to work: head on over to my Facebook business page, find the Date Night with Abby Grace graphic, and share it on your own Facebook page, Twitter (@abbygracephoto), or Instagram (@abbygracephoto). Make sure to tag my page in it so I can see when you enter! I’ll the winner on Facebook on Friday, August 9 at 5:00 pm. You can enter as many times as you want, just be sure I’m tagged so I can keep track of your entries!

Abby Grace Photography workshop

Obligatory fine print: once a winner is chosen, that person has 24 hours to email me to claim their seat or a new winner will be chosen. If winner is unable to attend, they may choose to pass the seat on to someone else, or a new winner will be chosen. Seat is not redeemable for anything but an awesome time on August 23, 2013 from 1:00-7:00 pm in Reston, Virginia :).

Happy Tuesday! And a huge thanks to Tyler Herrinton Media for creating the graphic for me!

  • Matoli - Ahhh!! I am soo excited about this “Date”!! I have been and I am still putting a list of questions together…be prepared:)ReplyCancel

  • Kimmie - Every time you post an instagram, a blog post, a new photo – I swoon & drool over them. I would love love love a chance to come to a workshop! I’m a poor (but determined) college student & photographer :) Your work is beautiful!ReplyCancel