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Pardon the mess

I wonder what it’s like to have a peaceful January? Three years ago Matt & I got engaged, two years ago (almost) we got married, and last January we MOVED on our first anniversary. So in true chaotic fashion, we started a new lease yesterday at our new town house! We spent the morning at Lowes picking up paint and supplies, and then the rest of the day was spent in various states of unrest- painting, chasing Lily around, Chinese takeout for dinner, then more painting. My mom brought over a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the new digs, so we did take a little bit of a break (thanks, Mom!)

We got the living room pretty much done (!) yesterday, all we need to to do is go back and touch up a few spots. And today? Today we paint MY office :). I’m so excited to finally be able to paint- our first two apartments were only one-year leases and we were required to paint back over before we moved, so it just didn’t feel worth the trouble. We’ve signed a two-year contract on the new town house though, and we DON’T have to paint over anything before we leave. Win. Win win win. So please excuse the mess/disorganized posting over the next week or so as I attempt to shuttle between two living spaces, 30 minutes apart. For example, it’s now January 2nd and I still haven’t blogged my “2012 year in review” post. Whoops! It’s on the calendar for Friday though, so let’s see how we do :).

Oh, and then we rounded out the evening with a game of Disney Cranium with my brother’s family. So yes, it was a chaotic New Year’s Day, but in the very best kind of way.

 Happy Wednesday!
Annamarie - January 2, 2013 - 2:10 pm

YAY!! It’s so fun moving into a new place knowing that you will be there for longer than just a year:):)…good luck!! I was so tired of painting by the time we finished…

Suzanne Minskey - January 2, 2013 - 1:01 pm

Exciting! I can’t wait until our new house is built so that I can do the whole painting thing for my new office. It’s nice to work in a space that you feel calm and centered in. Good luck with the new place, and hope things aren’t too crazy while you get settled. Happy New Year to you Abby!

Natalie - January 2, 2013 - 11:09 am

Congratulations on the new lease! That’s so exciting! Hugs!

Danielle Brooks - January 2, 2013 - 8:45 am

I just found your blog, and as a fellow photog, I love it! Excited to follow you in 2013!

Jean - January 2, 2013 - 8:26 am

Good luck in your new digs. Sounds like a lot of work, but I’m sure you and Matt are up to the task. Happy New Year, lovely granddaughter!

Deborah Zoe - January 2, 2013 - 8:22 am

congrats!!!! I’m raising my glass of sparkling cider ;);) to your new home:)!

Erica - January 2, 2013 - 8:22 am

I know the feeling! I cannot wait until we buy a house so I can paint and decorate to how my husband and I please! Congrats and hope you love the colors you picked! Hope to see some finish results!

Kristin - January 2, 2013 - 8:20 am

How fun. Can’t wait to see pictures.

Dani - January 2, 2013 - 7:46 am

Here’s to an uneventful January of 2014! :-) Congrats on the new digs!!

Rebekah Hoyt - January 2, 2013 - 7:36 am

YAY! I cannot wait to see it! I love painting – it made this place feel so much more my own :) And Disney Cranium?! I NEED to play that ASAP!

Urška Majer - January 2, 2013 - 7:31 am

Be sure to show your new office(and the rest of the house) when it’s done :)

Monday Mash-Up

One of the reasons I LOVE the Monday after a wedding is that I can finally sit down and dig into all the images from the weekend! I force myself to take Sunday off to spend with Matt, so on Monday morning I’m practically itching to get to my computer. This past weekend was no different- Seamus & Alex are one of the SWEETEST couples I’ve ever had the blessing of knowing, and I’ve been looking forward to December 29th alllll year. I’m only a fraction of the way through their images and I already know it’s going down in the books as one of my all-time favorites.

I know y’all have been anxiously awaiting the announcement of the winner of my extra seat to Justin & Mary’s What’s Next tour, so without further ado… Congratulations, Kaitlyn Phipps! Shoot me an email at abby@abbygracephotography.com and we’ll get things all set up for you :). For everyone else, there’s still time to sign up (although I hear the DC location is going pretty quickly…), and there are a few discount codes for $50 off a full day floating around, so definitely take advantage of those! I can’t wait to see you guys there!

And because every post is better with a photo, here’s the preview from Seamus & Alex’s wedding that I simply cannot get enough of. Keep an eye out on Thursday for their full blog post!

Baltimore Maryland the Belvedere wedding- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Monday!

Kaitlyn Phipps - December 31, 2012 - 1:51 pm

Ahhhhhhhh thank you I’m so excited!!!!!

Jean - December 31, 2012 - 1:49 pm

Love the photo. You are so talented!

Rebekah Hoyt - December 31, 2012 - 1:28 pm

Me too!! I can’t wait to see this full wedding post :) :)

Anna K. - December 31, 2012 - 12:18 pm

I’m obsessed with this photo! Gorgeous!

Wine Wednesday (on a Friday)- bubbly for New Year’s Eve!

I know! I know. My blogging calendar has been WAY out of wack this week. I skipped Christmas day AND Boxing day, and then yesterday I posted twice (make sure you check out the second post, btw- you don’t want to miss it!). And then today I’m blogging a Wine Wednesday post… and yet it’s Friday. I need to do a better job of keeping in step with my blogging calendar. That’ll go on my ever-expanding list of New Years (Year’s?) resolutions!

One of New Year’s Eve’s signature trademarks is champagne- you have to have something to toast with at midnight, right? What else would you pop open than a bottle of bubbly? Navigating the shelves upon shelves of options, however, can prove a little bit difficult. Up until recently, I had NO idea what the differences were between “Brut,” “Prosecco,” “Extra-Dry,” etc. I know that “dry” when it comes to non-carbonated wines means tart and that it has a bite, but when it comes to sparkling wines, it’s a totally different game.

Technically, the term “champagne” refers to a sparkling wine grow specifically in the Champagne region of France, produced under a particular set of instructions, but the term is applied liberally to most sparkling wines by the general public here in the US. Whoulda thunk it? When it comes to choosing your NYE champagne/sparkling wine, it’s important to know what the terms describing a particular bottle mean. They range from unsweetened and tart to very, VERY sweet- I made a little diagram to help you tell the differences:

champagne diagram- Abby Grace Photography

If you’re the type of person who loves a good IPA or bold glass of merlot, you may tend more toward the Brut/Extra Dry region. But if you find yourself drifting toward fruity, sugary drinks, a Dry or Demi Sec might please your palate a bit more. Spumante and Processco are also worth checking out for those who like their champagnes a bit sweeter, but not so sweet that it’s like drinking Welches grape juice. I headed over to Wegmans to find a few examples of different types of bubbly!

Below we have a Brut and a Blanc de Blanc. Most champagnes and sparking wines are made by combining both red and white grapes, but by keeping out the wine skins (tannins) it keeps the wine “white.” A “Blanc de Blanc” champagne is specifically made with only the juice from white grapes. Useless trivia for your weekend :).

Champagne and sparkling wine guide- Abby Grace PhotographyChampagne and sparkling wine guide- Abby Grace Photography

I love the PINK sparkling wine- it’s a little bit tart, but it’s such a fun bubbly! I had a couple of bottles on hand for my last boudoir marathon day and my brides loved it :). It’s not too expensive either- it runs around $9-11/bottle.

Champagne and sparkling wine guide- Abby Grace Photography

Cooks is always a reliable option for those on a budget- they’re in pretty much every grocery store in America and have several  varieties available, running around $7-9/bottle.

Champagne and sparkling wine guide- Abby Grace Photography

And for those of you who really just don’t like the taste of champagne but want to have something to toast with on New Year’s Eve, I definitely suggest trying out a Moscato D’Asti! Matt doesn’t like the taste of alcohol at all, but he really does enjoy an occasional glass of the Villa Jolanda Moscato D’Asti. It’s really sweet, almost like drinking regular white grape juice, and the alcohol content is much lower than most wines (5.5%, vs. the typical 9-15% of other blends). It goes really well with fresh raspberries and brie!

Champagne and sparkling wine guide- Abby Grace Photography

Once you’ve got your bottle of whichever bubbly you prefer, make sure to give it plenty of time to chill before serving. Generally speaking, sparkling wines and champagne are best served at anywhere between 40-45 degrees. And make sure you have the proper stemware- it’ll preserve the carbonation and keep your bubbly from going flat!

Happy Friday!

Karen - December 29, 2012 - 1:05 am

Wow! That was really well explained! Now I’ll feel like I know a few things before choosing my sparkling wine for NYE.

Sarah B. - December 28, 2012 - 2:08 pm

I LOVE sparkling wine! I have to confess – I love them even more than regular wine (maybe two years in Italy will cure that??). So yay for a post about “champagne”! What fun you must have had testing them all – wish I could have been there! :P

Rebekah Carter - December 28, 2012 - 12:37 pm

I LOVE the Moscato D’Asti! That’s how I got into champagne. Good post! Happy New Year!

Renee - December 28, 2012 - 12:34 pm

If you want a great champagne, try Moet & Chandon White Star. It’s my personal favorite.

Serena Severtson - December 28, 2012 - 9:46 am

Like Matt, I’m not a fan of the alcohol taste… thus my favorite wines are Ice Wines, followed by Moscato Wines.

Also – definitely a fan of Bug Juice! It’s a delicious Moscato and decently priced!

Vanessa Chupp - December 28, 2012 - 8:06 am

thanks so much for posting this! so helpful! I love trying out new wines, and champagne is something I haven’t ventured much into yet so now I can better pick what I may like! Something Dry-Sweet I think! : )

Matt - December 28, 2012 - 7:36 am

I like the bottle for the Moscato D’Asti as much as I like the wine. That’s what got me to buy it in the first place!

Giveaway alert to the What’s Next tour!

YOU GUYS. This is my favorite giveaway I’ve ever had the chance to do! EVER!! I occasionally do fun little giveaways with camera-shaped pencil sharpeners, film, and fun little knick knacks. But today’s giveaway tops ALL of those! During Justin & Mary’s The Big Next event on ShowIt Live last week, I must have been wearing my lucky trousers because I won TWO things, one of those being a seat to Justin & Mary’s What’s Next tour at the location of my choice. WOOOO!!! I actually purchased my ticket to the DC location as soon as seats became available, so instead of opting for just a refund of what I paid for my seat, I’m giving away the seat I won to one of you guys!! Cue: CONFETTI!! And balloons!

Being part of the in-studio group for The Big Next changed my business, even within the short week since I’ve been home, and I really REALLY want one of you guys to have the same mind-blowing experience at one of the ten stops of the What’s Next tour. So here’s what you need to do in order to enter: leave a comment telling me one of two things:

  • If you tuned into The Big Next, tell me what you learned!
  • And if you didn’t tune into The Big Next, tell me WHY you want to go to the The What’s Next tour! If you’re stuck in a rut in your business, are struggling to get started, or just need a kick in the pants, tell me about it!

I’ll be choosing a winner over the weekend and announcing it on Monday’s blog. It’s a $250 value (well, it’s actually worth a LOT more than that, but Justin & Mary are just super generous), so make sure you enter! And to give y’all an extra chance to win, if you share this photo from my Facebook business page and tag Justin & Mary’s page + my page, I’ll count it as an extra entry!

(I feel like an infomercial right now.) But as if the giveaway weren’t enough, Justin & Mary are giving you another reason to go! Here’s a $50 discount for all of you guys that sign up within the next two days! SO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS TODAY! You can find details on all the locations and reserve your seat HERE.

What’s holding you back from entering? Nothing? Good! I’m glad we convinced you :). And in the event that you sign up for a seat and end up winning the giveaway, J&M will refund your seat. Double winning power! I’ll be at the DC stop on January 17th- I can’t WAIT to see you guys there!

Now: GO!

Tricia - December 30, 2012 - 2:12 pm

Hello! I’m Tricia and thankful to have stumbled upon this opportunity!

While I have been in college, I have started portfolio building and getting my style consistent. My friends have helped me constantly as I struggled on posing and lighting the past few years. But now that graduation grows near, the big kick off for my business is getting closer and has me biting at my nails nervously! I was unable to tune in to the Big Next so I’d like to attend the Nashville, TN stop of Justin & Mary’s What’s Next Tour. While there, I’m hoping to get inspiration and more business ideas to have a successful career. My goal is to be a wedding photographer but marketing is not my forté, so with help, I will be able to attract my customers to me. I just invested in a flash and Justin’s session on lighting will be useful in that area, as well! I’m excited for the tour and for everyone’s careers!

Happy Holidays!

Kaitlyn Phipps - December 28, 2012 - 11:50 pm

At the Big Next, I learned a TON through seeing the mentoring sessions. Listening to Mary ask the tough questions and ask you ladies what the core of your business is, what your goals are, and describing your brand concretely made me realize that I need to dream a little instead of just letting things fall into place. I need tangible goals or my business (or lack there of) will fail!

I was SO motivated and encouraged by you all!

Lauren Acosta - December 28, 2012 - 12:54 pm

I would love to win this. I feel like I am struggling to get started again! I lived in Louisiana and had gotten a pretty good jump on my business and was getting more and more inquiries and clients. I got pregnant in November of 2011, in December of 2011 I found out it was TWINS and in February we moved to Florida. Since being in my new city I took a little break while I was expecting because it was really tough to lug that belly around, and then my twins were born in July. Once I was ready to begin again, I have been trying to get my name out there. It has definitely been a struggle, I think this workshop would provide me with the knowledge I need to get going again in a new place and with my new circumstances. I love photography so much but I just need a good push I think! Thank you for the opportunity.

Kelly - December 28, 2012 - 12:11 pm

I’m Kelly, a wedding a portrait photographer in North Carolina. I’ve had my own photography business for just over 4 years and need to take things to the next level. I’ve learned from my own many mistakes and just recently realized what a wealth of information there is out there for photographers. I plan to spend the next year making the changes I need to get things right and I can only imagine the kind of valuable the information I would receive from the What’s Next tour with Justin and Mary! Thanks for being awesome!

Mandy - December 28, 2012 - 9:09 am

Stuck in a rut AND need a kick in the pants! I’m just burnt out with having a 2 year old (who I’m trying my best to keep OUT of daycare) and running a business. I love photography and want to learn how to be behind the camera more and in front of a computer less! I’m sick of sitting here trying to work and keep up with the business side of everything when all my little wants me to do is color or play with her!

I wanted to watch The Big Next, but was so busy with everything going on here at my house that I didn’t have time to watch it. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to go the What’s Next tour and learn how to make a huge improvement for the business side of things! Thanks so much for the opportunity to win!

sarah d - December 28, 2012 - 4:46 am

I really need this! my business partner Elliott and I are starting to get the clientel we want…need to make sure we have the business AND technical AND creatice side down. Would LOVE this chance to learn from J&M! XOX -Sarah

Vanessa Chupp - December 27, 2012 - 8:26 pm

Just tried to post and it said I had already said that, that it was a duplicate. Did it post? I don’t see it here? :S

Vanessa Chupp - December 27, 2012 - 8:21 pm

ABBY! This is Sooo awesome of you, and justin and Mary!!! I LOVED watching the 3day course and seeing you and the other girls go through how you are growing your businesses and going after your dreams! :) Kyle and I have been wanting and trying to kick start our business into something we can both do full time while supporting our family (we have a cutie 2year old daughter, Ellie). We’ve been struggling to make it work with Kyle being American and living with us in Canada while he waits on his permanent residency (it’s been 3 1/2 years and counting now) and I work full time as a nurse to support us money wise, while dreaming of doing our wedding photography full time because we just LOVE it so much. Needless to say, attempting to grow and run a business while working full time elsewhere as well has me BURNT OUT. The course was rejuvenating and encouraging and motivating. I was often in tears thinking about the dreams we have for this business and the struggle it has been, but finally feeling the encouragement to go out and make this dream ours and having practical steps And ideas on how we can go about attaining that for ourselves. We’d love to attend the course to really dive in to the taste we got online. Getting one of those tickets for free would make it possible for us to make it work financially for us to both afford to go together and learn these things together so we can actually discuss an work together to our common goal!! :) :). Thanks for this insanely incredible opportunity!!!

Holly - December 27, 2012 - 8:06 pm

I want to get started but I think I’m a little overwhelmed and just need to JUMP IN!

Nikki Santerre - December 27, 2012 - 6:39 pm

Abby! It is so generous of your to offer your seat as a giveaway rather than get your money back. I was only able to catch bits and pieces of the What’s Next event on Showit live, but what I did learn was SO incredibly valuable. I have realized that I can’t sit around and dream all day of where I want my career to go. I need to get up. develop a plan, and set it into motion, one piece at a time. My Big Next is to try to develop a professional presence in the industry. I have started by obtaining my official business license, investing in myself by working with a designer on a professional looking blog, and by working on a Showit site as well. Being able to see Justin & Mary speak live would only set me more ON FIRE for my business, and getting where I want to be!

ashley link - December 27, 2012 - 6:24 pm

oh yay! i was looking forward to your announcement. i thought i was going to miss it on my drive to yorktown today. so glad i caught it! oh my goodness! this is such an awesome giveaway and would be such an amazing experience. i want the mind-blowing experience that you’ve had! heck! i would be grateful if i even got to learn from you! i look up to you and justin & mary and a few others in this industry. i have seen you grow so much just over this last year that i’ve been a fan of yours. you have done and are going to do great things. i feel like attending the what’s next tour would give me the encouragement i need. i get pretty down on myself, sometimes, and get discouraged in this industry. i also get impatient sometimes and wonder when i’ll have that breakthrough. i LOVE LOVE LOVE learning from other photographers. i think this would be an amazing time to learn from two generous and knowledgeable people. but hey! if i don’t win the spot to see them, can we still hang out?! it’d be super awesome!!!! :)

Caitlin - December 27, 2012 - 5:02 pm

The Big Next was amazing! I think the most important thing that I learned was how crucial it is to find your perfect clients. That entire discussion was so valuable!

Toviah Spencer - December 27, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Abby! You’re an inspiration of talent and generosity! I don’t know what’s next for me and photography! I can’t get my niche and need an edge for my on location photography. I’ve spent 6 months learning studio lighting and need more for my business that’s just puttering along since 2008. I want to be what’s next!

Katie Nesbitt - December 27, 2012 - 3:56 pm

I was only able to watch the first day, but I definitely feel like I’m ready to figure out exactly what my big next should be! I kind of feel like I’m stuck in the middle of this rut and I don’t know what to do to get out…the What’s Next Tour might just be what I need!!

Sarah - December 27, 2012 - 3:40 pm

Ah Abby! You are such a sweetheart! I love your heart of giving and blessing someone!
I was unable to watch the Big Next because I was at home with my sick two year old daughter.
I would LOVE to be able to attend the What’s Next tour. I was just talking with my hubby about how much I would love to attend but purchasing a ticket is simply not in the budget for right now. I have admired Justin and Mary for a long time and would love to hear from them. I just recently quit my part time job so that I would be able to focus photography; attending would help me to figure out what is next for 2013. I want it to be a fabulous year and I feel that this would truly help to jump start my year and get my behind going!

Paula Bartosiewicz - December 27, 2012 - 2:56 pm

What I loved most about The Big Next was, that Mary really challenges you to ask yourself those daunting questions we all tend to avoid asking ourselves. Admitting our fears and our weaknesses in order to figure out what’s next. The hardest part is actually having to say them out loud!

I learned how important it is to find the voice of your brand that represents “you” rather than constantly playing the “comparison game.” The worst part of the game is that you’ll NEVER win! This is one of my goals I am going to tackle in the coming year and making my brand and client experience truly an amazing one.

I have been at this for 2 years now and I am SO ready to take hold and figure out my “Big Next” for my wedding photography business. I would be so incredibly grateful to win a seat at the Justin and Mary “What’s Next” Tour. Thank you for being so generous! Such an amazing giveaway for sure. Either way I’m sure I will see you in DC!

Allison Mannella - December 27, 2012 - 2:44 pm

I tuned into bits and pieces of the Big Next and was so inspired by all of you! My big next (and why I’m so excited about this tour!) is to officially launch my photography business, with a goal of going full time as soon as possible. I’m so lucky to have such great resources to help build my brand, but I’m still struggling with taking that first big jump! Best wishes for 2013!

Tammy - December 27, 2012 - 2:17 pm

What’s next?
That is a good question.

I am still struggling to figure that out. Ummm, OK struggling for longer then I care to admit. Getting started has been a more emotional then I thought. It seems fear has become a constant companion.
I would love for 2013 to be the time I push past the fear and insecurities and put myself out there and say in all my glory, “I am here and I am a photographer!”

Hillary Gaskins - December 27, 2012 - 2:14 pm

This is wonderful! Thanks for the opportunity.

Well, I tried to watch “The Big Next” but apparently my internet didn’t want me to. I’m going into my last semester as a Marketing major at Radford University and I would really LOVE to jump head first into photography full time. But there is still so much for me to learn and not many people in my area willing to help a girl out. I’m a self-taught photog and learning from blogs and videos are great, but being able to be there and listen to Justin and Mary would be AMAZING to help me further myself and my business.

Kara - December 27, 2012 - 1:59 pm

Abby!! I literally just posted last week that I wish I could go to the J&M What’s Next Tour and what an awesome opportunity it would be so now to have the chance to win is a blessing! I started an interest in photography after my husband introduced me to it 6 months after we were married. I was only 20 at the time and not really sure if photography was what I wanted to do or not so I enrolled in the Professional Photography program at CDIABU in Georgetown. I LOVED it. It was everything I ever wanted. Until as a newly married couple we could no longer afford the gas for me to go back and forth as often as required and I had to drop out of the program. Fast forward 6 years later and we have been blessed by God in so many ways. In that time period my husband and I have both been full time students in Bachelor and Master’s degree programs at Liberty University, we have had two amazing sons and I have been blessed with the ability to stay home with them. All beautiful things in my life, they were all things that pushed photography to the wayside. Well, this month during my quiet time, God really spoke to me as if He wanted me to get back into photography so that I can stay at home with my boys and still afford a good life for them. He told me that I can have all of that and my photography too and that I don’t need to have one or the other. At that, I dove in head first and arranged several partnerships with non-profits in the area, developed a website, business plan, and have pulled what I thought to be all the stops. And now I’m left with the inevitable “What’s Next?” I know what’s next: I’m going to do something for me and run the photography business I have always wanted to. I just need direction on how to do that. And that’s where the What’s Next Tour would come in :)

Sabrina - December 27, 2012 - 1:55 pm

Oh my goodness! This is so generous of you!! I wasn’t able to tune into much of J&M on Showit Live because it was MY LAST WEEK AT MY DESK JOB!! Woohoo!! Since I became a full time photographer the week before Christmas, I kind of still feel like I’m on vacation… I have all of these ideas in my head about what to do and how to do them and lists I need to make, but part of me is so overwhelmed that I don’t know where to begin. One thing that stuck with me from the pieces I caught online was Mary telling one of the girls to dream bigger. She had set a small(er) number of weddings to book as her goal for 2013 and Mary told her to go higher. End of story. And I want to dream that big! I have big dreams. I want to have big goals… I just don’t know where to start. And I know attending The Big Next would be the push that I need to get my business where I hope it will be some day!

Erin S. - December 27, 2012 - 1:50 pm

I learned so much from watching The Big Next… from not being ashamed of being in the beginning stages of trying to start a photography business (even though I’ve been at this stage for a while now because I am still in another full-time career!), to realizing that I’m not alone in suffering from the 5 things that get in the way of being a DO-er instead of just a DREAM-er, to understanding that I can’t keep putting in time and effort and money and angst into something if I am not getting the same amount or more out of it. I know I am paralyzed by the big picture of what I want to do… and the probability of failure in an industry that seems so full of talented people already. Mary got me to start thinking about not trying to mold myself to what everyone else seems to be doing and do what works for me – be who I am, and not who I think people want me to be. So, if I can break it down as Mary talked about and establish achievable, concrete goals, hopefully I can get out of my rut and make some progress. But there is still the fear… the doubt… the “who am I to want” feeling she talked about. But when I consider the alternative of just turning away from it and sticking with the same safe career I’ve been in for many years now, it saddens me, so I know I need to find a way off this fence. I feel I got a lot already out of The Big Next, watching as much as I could at work, but I know I could use another session on Mary’s “couch”! This is such a nice thing you are doing to give away your free seat (not that I’m surprised!) and any one here would be very deserving!

Dreama Spence - December 27, 2012 - 1:45 pm

The world of weddings are so new for me. I want to be a sponge and absorb as much information as I can! Before booking a wedding of my own, I want to learn and experience external lighting since most of my work is with natural light. I would love any and every opportunity to grow and learn!

Elizabeth - December 27, 2012 - 1:27 pm

Just started my photography business after 22 years in office administration, I decided to dive feet first into this business. One wedding down and completed a photography class at my community college (taught by a fine arts photographer that did not take grading and your photography lightly and aced his class), I need and want to get back into doing more shoots but it seems like everyone has a person already that they work with and I would love to stand out more and all in all be a better salesperson. I have been checking out the site for J&M but going down to one paycheck it will not happen anytime soon, but I am not complaining because I do enjoy what I do so much more. If I get chosen I would be so happy and excited and if not, oh well, not meant to be and just move along.

Rachel May - December 27, 2012 - 1:23 pm

I could use a good kick in the pants to help me start out 2013! I’m restarting my business after shutting it down for a while and can use all the help I can get! :) Thanks Abby, for being so generous!

Ali W - December 27, 2012 - 1:21 pm

I half tuned in! I loved watching people talk about their businesses and listening to all of the teary stories. But because I only heard a little, I didn’t hear the “teaching” moments. I just listened to other people’s lives and their struggles. I would love to win this seat – I would love kick in the butt from fellow photogs and J&M to embolden me. I would love to “step it up” and continue to “upscale” my brand. With a new brand launch on the way, I’m cowering a little that I won’t be able to live up to what I think it could become. Does that make sense? WOHOO! And ps. way to share Christ to the interwebs :)

Sarah Goodwin - December 27, 2012 - 1:11 pm

Abby, how incredibly generous of you! Confetti for sure! So I didn’t get a chance to watch alot but I am looking forward to the rewatch, and what will likely have me glued to the screen. What I did take away from the little bit that I saw though was priceless. Being able to see different photographers in different phases of their business & life, different perspectives & strengths was very encouraging. J+M are such wonderful teachers & they are very vocal about doing what works for you, not what the industry says to do or your fellow photographer is doing. Doing your own thing & being yourself is your brand. Our definitions of success are very different, yet we can all positively contribute to each others. I am in the final stages of a rebrand that is both so exciting but also frightening, because it means that I need to hit the ground running & not look back, get unstuck from the rut I’m in, stop struggling to get clients & gain momentum, and I could use a swift need a kick in the pants every so often. I need to go above & beyond for my clients and vendors, not be scared to increase my pricing & just put myself out there as a photographer. Attending the Big Next (in DC!) would not only help me get 2013 and my new brand off to a great start, but would be just another way I can stalk J&M :)

Sarah Williams - December 27, 2012 - 1:06 pm

Hey Abby!
My name is Sarah Williams and I’m a freshman at George Mason University. I’ve been doing photography for two years now (seniors, engagement, families), and would love to venture into the realm of wedding photography. Photography is a huge passion of mine, I love how it is such a gift, both to me and to those I photograph. I love being able to capture memories that will mean so much to my clients, both now and further on down the road. I’d love to learn how to better market my work, and gain more confidence in my style. I could use a lot of training in approaching logistics, such as branding, pricing, etc. I also would just love to meet some more photographers to befriend. This would be an amazing opportunity-to be able to meet J&M (and you!) and be a part of their What’s Next Tour.
Thanks for being so generous!
Sarah

Rebekah Hoyt - December 27, 2012 - 1:04 pm

Abby! You are so generous to give a seat away! I realllllllllly want to go! I wasn’t able to tune into the Live event, but I’d really love to go. As cheesy as this sounds, I really want to figure out what exactly IS next for me… teaching? blogging? more shooting? less shooting? GAH I have so many questions!

Beth - December 27, 2012 - 1:00 pm

Thank you for being so generous Abby! I was only able to tune in to the ShowIt Live event after work since I’m still working a full time job during the day. I went to J&M’s lighting workshop this year and it was SO HELPFUL! Of course it was mostly just about lighting, and I learned SO much about how to use my flash and OCF, but the little parts about business and WHY we do what we do was just as valuable. I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to spend some more time with Justin and Mary. They are so inspiring!! 2012 was my first year in business, and as I mentioned, I’m still working a full time job as well. I’m hoping to go full time next year, but in the mean time it is easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. The What’s Next tour would be SUCH a good way to start off 2013 feeling confident and inspired!!!

Mercedes Snow - December 27, 2012 - 12:54 pm

I loved watching y’all on The Big Next! The biggest tip that hit home was the idea that we know where we want to be but because there are so many steps in getting there, we give up and don’t do any at all. I learned I need to develop a more solid brand and invest in my business both with workshops like these and marketing schemes. However, I have the tiniest budget you can imagine so investing is hard. I’m taking this year as my one shot to try and make it as a full time photographer, so I have plenty of work to do and would appreciate every opportunity and bit of knowledge given to me. [And I'm anxiously awaiting your announcement that you're going to start teaching!!]

Lelia Bartruff - December 27, 2012 - 12:54 pm

I watched The Big Next and I loved learning strategies to stay on task and get things done that month. Making to do lists and having blog posts planned. I’d love to keep being challenged on my whys and life goals at the what’s next tour. And to find ways to make my goals happen with a little less stress and confusion so I can spend more time with my family.

Chelsea Batey - December 27, 2012 - 12:45 pm

Hey Abby :)
My name is Chelsea and I also live in the Washington D.C. surround area, specifically, Vienna, VA. I have a desk job in Arlington, VA that I commute to every day. I got my first SLR when I was 16 and I shot my first wedding when I was 18. Since then, I’ve been doing various work, seniors, weddings, engagement shoots, and whatever else I can get anyone to hire me for. Since my desk job, God has put a fire in my bones to do photography – I spend a lot of my time pouring over photography blogs (such as yours and J&M). This just makes me want to get MORE into it – I love the art. I have no formal photography training and a degree in communications/print journalism. I don’t know enough about business to get going full force/full-time (why I would love to hear Mary’s session) and I would love to have more formal training with Justin and his amazing lighting techniques! My business currently, is a pretty sad excuse for a business (I can’t even afford a website, and I am working on paying a friend for a logo). In the end, I would love the chance to go to the Big Next, because my “business” needs some love and help, and I can’t imagine better people to learn from. Thanks in advance for reading my story :)
Blessings,
Chelsea

Emily Wright - December 27, 2012 - 12:40 pm

I watched a little bit of the Big Next. It was amazing. I learned so much! The biggest things I learned were – If you don’t love it, don’t do it! (In regards to outsourcing things) and to not compare yourself to others. I am not a photographer, but really want to learn a lot more about how to use my camera so that one day I could be.

caitlin elizabeth - December 27, 2012 - 12:39 pm

i recently relocated to the eastern shore of virginia and have SERIOUSLY been struggling with establishing myself in a new area – justin & mary have always been a source of inspiration for me, and to see them in person would be something i never would’ve even considered a possibility until now! i’m in a slump. and i know that justin & mary are real people with true to life experiences similar to mine – this would be the jolt i’ve needed to get 2013 rolling. thanks for this mind-blowing opportunity!

meghan hochgesang - December 27, 2012 - 11:31 am

i have been teeter-tottering over whether or not to reserve my seat at the Indy big next stop with the lame excuse that taking off work would be an issue. i would love a push to make me do it! i’m going to be transitioning to full time photographer (shh! secret!) in march of this next year so priceless info from justin and mary would be amazing!

More Lovely Faces- Blythe K Photography

This whole “working during the week of Christmas” thing is weird! Up until graduating from college, I’d always had a huge window of vacation during the holidays, so working during Christmas was a laughable idea. When I was still at my desk job, I always took the days surrounding Christmas off to spend with family. This year, I have no one to work for but myself, and since I didn’t plan ahead and pre-blog everything last week, I’m at my desk this morning typing out today’s blog. There’s nothing WRONG with it, per se, it’s just…weird. Matt took off from work yesterday (because truly- is there any bigger buzzkill than going back to work on December 26th?) and we spent the entire day watching movies, stealing peeks out the window at the snow-turned-sleet-turned-rain, and finally ventured out of the house at 6:30 pm to get pho for dinner. I love having those kinds of comfortable, slow days with Matt- it’s those kinds of days that make me really appreciate how blessed I am to have married my best friend.

Last week I had the fortune of meeting up with Blythe of Blythe K Photography to chat about all things photography! Blythe is in the early stages of her business and is getting ready to make the move across country to Nebraska (’cause she’s getting MARRIED!), meaning she’ll be starting fresh with building her client base in Omaha. I have every faith in her that she’s going to rock it out BIG time. She has such a huge heart for her business and I can’t wait to see where she goes with it! I’m a big believer in having fun head shots for your site so we got together for an abbreviated portrait session on Monday morning, so that when Blythe launches her new ShowIt site (woop woop!) she’ll have photos of her cheery, stunning self to use! Friends? Meet Blythe :).

Blythe K head shots- Abby Grace PhotographyBlythe K head shots- Abby Grace PhotographyBlythe K head shots- Abby Grace Photography

Blythe, you’re ADORABLE.

Blythe K head shots- Abby Grace PhotographyBlythe K head shots- Abby Grace Photography

Sigh. I ljust love that Lily Pulitzer dress. And Blythe was such a trooper- you’d never know it was below freezing outside just by looking at her gorgeous smile!

Blythe K head shots- Abby Grace PhotographyBlythe K head shots- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Thursday!

Matt - December 27, 2012 - 2:24 pm

That was fun hanging out with you yesterday! Also, great pictures! I love that you get to spread your photography to others :)

Amanda B. - December 27, 2012 - 10:12 am

Beautiful – Abby & Blythe!!

Kristin - December 27, 2012 - 9:54 am

Super cute!

molly stillman - December 27, 2012 - 9:12 am

wow she is gorgeous!! great job on the headshots, abby!!

Rebekah Hoyt - December 27, 2012 - 9:08 am

Blythe, you look gorgeous! I love these shots Abby!

Brittani - December 27, 2012 - 8:35 am

Blythe looks gorgeous! These are beautiful Abby :)

Blythe K - December 27, 2012 - 8:28 am

THANK YOU ABBY!!! :) I LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM!!!