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A pretty preview

On Wednesday evening I had the absolute joy of working with Rachel of Floral & Blooms to shoot some of her gorgeous bouquets for her new website! These blooms were GORGEOUS. I shot most of the session on film so we’ll have to wait until I get my scans back to see the entire session, but here’s a digital preview to hold you over!

Floral & Blooms shoot- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Friday!

Rici - October 1, 2012 - 10:27 am

Super gorg pic+dress+floral awesomeness! can´t wait! ~ Saluti.

Rebekah Hoyt - October 1, 2012 - 8:40 am

OMG I LOVE THIS!!!

Debbie Munoz - September 30, 2012 - 6:54 am

Beautiful! I can’t wait to see more from these two creative and talented ladies, Rachel the Florist and Abby the Photographer.

Annamarie - September 29, 2012 - 2:35 am

LOVE this abby!! So beautiful! I can’t wait to see the rest! :)

Brittany Claud - September 28, 2012 - 11:59 pm

Ah!! Cannot wait to see the rest on film! I LOVE seeing your new film work!

Hannah Abrams - September 28, 2012 - 10:46 pm

looks AMAZING! Rachel is a superstar!

Lee bornstein - September 28, 2012 - 3:56 pm

GEORGOUS flowers

Lee bornstein - September 28, 2012 - 3:55 pm

GEORGOUS flowers…can’t wait for more

Terri - September 28, 2012 - 3:46 pm

Wow! I can’t wait to see the rest! Abby and racheal, your work is phenomenal!

Jean - September 28, 2012 - 3:28 pm

Beautiful. Looking forward to seeing more!

Dani - September 28, 2012 - 11:24 am

Gorgeous shot!! Her dress is so awesome! Can’t wait to see more!

Rachel Ziegler - September 28, 2012 - 9:51 am

AH!! I love it!!!

Lauren - September 28, 2012 - 9:27 am

YAY!!! :) You go Rachel

Mia Bjerring - September 28, 2012 - 9:14 am

Gorgeous! Can’t wait to see the rest! Have a fabulous weekend! :)

Anna K. - September 28, 2012 - 9:03 am

So pretty!!!

Love Everlasting- Tyler & Vicky’s Arlington, VA wedding

Their story began in a classroom halfway across the country- they were both enrolled in the same masters-level journalism class at Northwestern. She doubted the name he presented was actually his- “Tyler Blue? Come on, that’s not a real name!” she remembers saying to herself. But real it was, and real he was. And as the semesters passed their relationship grew, among late-night study sessions and trips to Chicago, so that when Tyler knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he needed Vicky by his side for the rest of his life? He knew exactly where to take her to ask the all-important question. Her favorite art installment in Chicago is the Bean, so Tyler concocted a plan that involved a weekend getaway to Chicago and the assistance of two sneaky friends. What he didn’t anticipate was the zombie festival taking place in front of the shiny, metallic Bean, but being already decided in his course, he proceeded anyway. Down on one knee in the presence of the undead, he asked Vicky if she’d be his forever.

Tyler and Vicky, it was such an incredible honor to be there with you both, documenting your love on the biggest days of your lives thus far! The loving support from your friends and family was so sweet to behold, and your love for Christ and each other left my heart full of joy for you all. Thank you so much for the privilege of being your wedding photographer- I hope you enjoy these images as much as I loved capturing them :).

We began at the Arlington Hyatt…

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I LOVE THIS.

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Vicky, you are so effortlessly stunning.

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Supa fly bridal party :).

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I could have photographed these ladies all day!

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Vicky had mentioned to me during our first few emails that she was really interested in doing photos at the National Portrait Gallery in DC (one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE places to shoot). I’d say she made a good decision, yeah?

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Tyler, you totally rock the handsome groom thing.

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Vicky’s family hails from Taiwan so it was really important to Tyler & Vicky to have Chinese culture present throughout the reception. The China Garden was the perfect place for the ten-course dim sum-style meal. And look! A wedding cake by Edibles Incredible!!

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Best dancing shots ever.

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And then they played Gangham Style and half the crowd knew the corresponding dance, and I almost died. It was awesome!

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Happy Thursday!

Rici - October 1, 2012 - 12:26 pm

I really love the pictures at the Gallery! It seems that even her flower fits the backdrop! WOW! How did you arrange to shot there? Did you have to get a permission? How did you get so many visitor empty images?
Totally love the reaction of the one bridesmaid in her getting ready room! So cool.
~ Saluti.

Brittany Claud - September 29, 2012 - 12:05 am

Oh my goodness…I’m loving this wedding! LOVE the one in black & white on the staircase!!! And that is so hilarious that they played Gangham Style at their reception!!

Dani - September 28, 2012 - 11:26 am

Love all of these! Gorgeous details, love all the group shots – they look so casual, not posed at all, totally natural. And love love love the portrait gallery shots!

Connie - September 28, 2012 - 10:37 am

Abby, the pictures and the blog are amazing! Vicky and Tyler look gorgeous, of course. I could not wipe the smile off my face while reading this. Thanks for posting!

Ian - September 27, 2012 - 11:23 pm

Superb images Abby…it was a fantastic event. Gangnam Style dancing shot is awesome. Thank you for being a such pleasure to work with.

Matt - September 27, 2012 - 8:58 pm

Such a great story! I love those pictures of everyone dancing (especially to Gangham style).

Katelyn James - September 27, 2012 - 8:25 pm

BEAUTIFUL Abby!!!! Love the portraits!! And LOVE seeing one of my brides in the bridal party!!! (yea Julie!! Looking good girl!) so fun!!! Ps. who knew an orange hair flower could be so AMAZING!? Love that too!! Such a beautiful bride!

Rebekah Hoyt - September 27, 2012 - 10:41 am

WOW Abby these are so beautiful! Those portraits in the portrait gallery – so gorgeous! Beautiful job!

stephanie - September 27, 2012 - 9:02 am

omg. those dancing shots. made me laugh out loud – so awesome! and i love how they incorporated her heritage – a reception with chinese food = awesome.

Working with a designer- a client’s perspective

Every once in a while we as photographers get the chance to experience BEING the client instead of the one doing the work. It’s so strange to be on the opposite side of things, but it gives you a renewed appreciation for others’ crafts. For example, last spring (February of 2011) when I first set out to “get a logo and a website and stuff,” I figured it’d take my designer a day, maybe two, to come up with a logo for me. HA. It actually involved several rounds of edits, revisions, informal polls among friends to choose the best versions, then some intense education on keywording and SEO. By the end of it, I had an entirely new appreciation for graphic designers and everything that goes into creating the face of a brand. So this past Spring when I was looking around for another designer to embark on my new ShowIt site, I came in a little more prepared than I was last time. Here are a few incredibly valuable lesson I learned about working with designers and approaching a re-brand:

1) Be OPEN to change, even if it’s completely unexpected. I came into the game with a set idea of what I wanted- I knew the colors, themes, and even specific icons that I wanted to use throughout my site. I straight up told Kara & Rachael (of Earl & Layne) that I wasn’t interested in a re-brand because my brand was fine like it was. < Just a hint: that’s probably not something a designer wants to hear- you’ve chosen them to help you create a website because you can’t do it yourself, and it’s very possible that they might just have an idea that strays from your original concept that blows your mind. But if you’re not open to seeing new ideas, you’re going to lose out on tapping into your designer’s wealth of knowledge and creativity. The design that Kara & Rachael originally presented to me fell within everything I described that I’d wanted, and yet I hated it. I hated it because, plainly put, I’m NOT a designer, and I wasn’t letting them do their jobs to their full potential. It’s kind of like when a bride gives her photographer a four-page shot list- I wasn’t TRUSTING them to be able to do a good enough job on their own, which was completely moronic on my part. As soon as I relinquished control and let Kara and Rachael do what they do best, they came up with something completely new, completely different, and we ended with the website I have today. And I LOVE IT.

2) Be HONEST, but lovingly so. If something isn’t working for you, tell them! If you’re not crazy about the logo concept they’ve drawn up or even the inspiration board for your site design, tell them! Designers are NOT mind readers, and they need open channels of communication to deliver a product that you’re going to love. Tell them what you’re loving, and what you’re not loving, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The better your designer is able to understand what and how you’re thinking, the better the end result will be.

3) Be realistic. Know that a good website design is probably going to take several months, and learn to be ok with that. I am the QUEEN of impulse decisions and wanting things now, but I knew that my website was going to take time. It actually ended up taking longer than the three months we initially estimated because I decided I couldn’t stand what I originally wanted (again, MY fault, not theirs), but in the end I was so so so glad it took as long as it did because it allowed us to thoroughly flush out every bit of my website.

4) Be personable! Kara & Rachael sent me an initial questionnaire asking me pretty much everything about myself- my favorite colors, textures, stores, the list goes on. Give them as much detail as possible- I shudder to think how long my questionnaire answers were, but it gave Kara & Rachael a place to start. They knew my favorite texture is organic linen, and that I love to shop at Anthropologie and JCrew (outlet, duh). Using that information, along with all the other fodder I provided, they were able to get a real sense of who I am, allowing them to create a website and tailor my brand to be more centered around who I am as a PERSON, not just as a business.

5) Be prepared to invest. A good designer is worth his or her weight in gold- your website is your online presence and can determine people’s impression of you. You may have an incredible portfolio, but if your website doesn’t match that level of talent you may be turning people of or even attracting the wrong type of client for you. As soon as my new website launched, I noticed an immediate change in the frequency of client inquiries, but more importantly, I noticed a change in the TYPES of inquiries I was receiving. These new inquiries were from people who are more passionate about their wedding photography, more open about being quirky with their fiancé/e, and much more like who I am as a person- shopping at Anthro, JCrew, and loving movie popcorn almost as much as I do. A good designer knows how to infuse your personality into your site to attract your ideal audience, and having that sort of web presence is well worth what the going rate for a designer is.

If you’re thinking of overhauling your website, take some time to research different designers. You’ll find that you like some designers’ style better than others, so before you start emailing around asking for quotes, gather a list of 2-3 whose style you love and start with them. And remember to have FUN with it! Redesigning, while a huge undertaking, is also incredibly exciting! So get PUMPED!

Happy Wednesday!

Karen Field - September 27, 2012 - 1:42 am

Wow. What an education for me. I had no idea that the process was so complicated. If I were in need of a website designer your instructions and tips would totally guide me in the process. Thanks for sharing not only the successes you experienced but also the mistakes you made on the way to truly appreciating designers and what they do and why the process takes awhile. This was an excellent post. Mom

Brittany Claud - September 26, 2012 - 1:33 pm

Thanks for the advice Abby!! I will keep all of this in mind when I am ready to rebrand!! And yours was totally worth it because your site is AMAZINGGG! :)

Sarah Goodwin - September 26, 2012 - 12:26 pm

sooo true! I find that the biggest issue I have had in my re-brand is that I have trouble narrowing things down because I have an ecclectic style and love ALOT of different things. So I tend to be impulsive in saying yes, when in fact I should take a few days to think about it! LOVE LOVE LOVE your new logo + site! And how is SHOWIT?

ali w - September 26, 2012 - 11:47 am

thanks thanks! in the process now – waiting for proofs and excited about it. i’m praying i’ll see a difference in the inquiries i’m receiving – that was the biggest part in my decision to rebrand!

Alison Mish - September 26, 2012 - 11:42 am

Great reminder! I’m in this process right now…I’m completely with you on the impulsive decision making, which made it hard as I patiently waited to find the right designer for me and now as I wait for proofs of my new site after each round of changes and what not! :) Loved this post!

Krista A. Jones - September 26, 2012 - 11:34 am

Abby I love this post! As a designer who works with photographers as well as a photographer, everything you had to say was just right on! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a design only to end up redoing someone’s logo too because the one they created themselves isn’t working with the look and feel they really want.

Rebekah Hoyt - September 26, 2012 - 10:53 am

Thank you!! I need to be reminded of all of these things!

One last gear purchase- welcome to the family, 85 1.2!

There are varying viewpoints on “how” to stagger purchases of gear, but I’ve always been of the mindset that if I know what I need (keyword: need) and if I’m blessed to have the budget to purchase them, I’ll do so. As exhausting as it was to do the wedding photography + corporate desk job gig for two years, I am SO thankful that it allowed me the freedom to purchase the gear I needed! 2011 was a year of building for me- I spent a lot of time researching the lenses I needed and put almost everything I earned from weddings that year back into investing in my camera bag. I *thought* I was done making gear purchases after this past February when I bought the 24-70, but then the 5dmk3 came out and I recognized I really needed to upgrade. I loved my mk2, but the poor focusing was really becoming a problem. I was SO frustrated when I’d think I’d nailed the focus as I was shooting, but then once I got the images into LightRoom I could see it’d backfocused ever so slightly, making the image utter rubbish.

I’d hoped the 5dmk3 would correct the 50 1.2′s backfocusing issues (and for the most part, it did!), but unfortunately it hasn’t changed the fact that my favorite lens is still SOFT. Images that should be tack sharp are sort of hazy, giving me an endless supply of “gaaaaaah!!!”s whilst editing. I’d heard several of my favorites photographers gush about how much they love their 85 1.2, but I figured it was just going to be more of the same frustrations so I never really bothered to look into. Well, that was until Katelyn suggested that with my shooting style, I may really love the lens, and that the 85 1.2 + 5dmk3 = match made in heaven. So I spent a weekend with an 85 rental, shot a wedding with it, and fell in love. Part of my WHY statement is to provide my couples with intimate, organic portraits, and the 85 seems to be the perfect complement to my work. Allowing me to get in close while still standing relatively far away, my brides and grooms are able to relax and share in the moment without feeling like there’s a camera in their face.

After a weekend rental with the 85, and affter PROMISING Matt that this would, indeed, be my last gear purchase for the year (and hopefully until mid-next year), I set out early on Saturday to make a stop at Penn Camera to purchase the lens. I felt a bit sick to my stomach over it (because let’s face it- who LIKES dropping that much money on anything?) but after using it throughout the ceremony and bride + groom portraits, I was thrilled! The cathedral where Tyler & Vicky were married was, like most churches, a bit dark. I’d normally have resorted to shooting with my 70-200, which I can’t stand because of how heavy it is, but the 85 had enough reach that was able to use it instead for much of the cermony. The result was some of my favorite ceremony shots EVER, and the portraits we took later on of just Tyler and Vicky? OHMERGERSH. You’ll just have to wait until Thursday to see the rest of those :).

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I also used the 85 during Gary & Clarisse’s wedding, and it’s definitely my new go-to lens for First Looks. I love being able to stand a bit further back during First Looks, but with the 50 I just wasn’t able to get in as close as I wanted to while still maintain enough distance to allow my couples to enjoy the moment without interference. Now I have the best of both worlds! I can maintain my distance but still get in close using the 85.

The lens, while incredible, does have a couple of drawbacks- a) it’s heavy. I just recently started shooting with a wrist strap on my camera and I’m really glad I did- otherwise my hand would start cramping from the combined weight of the camera body + 85. 2) It’s can be a bit slow to focus- I wouldn’t use this lens for any sort of fast-paced shooting. The slower focus, however, does force me to slow myself down when I tend to get wound really tight and allows me to breathe and really focus my attentions on how I’m speaking, posing, and composing. All in all, definitely a lens I’m falling in love with. I think I prefer it over my 50 for portraits!

Happy Tuesday!

Sarah - September 26, 2012 - 2:14 pm

Yay! It is super heavy, but doubles as a good arm workout (until you realize your camera arm is bigger than your other one!) I have the 85 1.8 and LOVE it for portraits and ceremony shots.I have rented the 85 1.2 a few times before as well and it’s definitely on my wish list.

Carrie - September 25, 2012 - 12:05 pm

Ha! I knew you wouldn’t regret the purchase….glad you went for it, and can’t wait to see the rest!

ashley barnett - September 25, 2012 - 10:30 am

Gah this is my favorite lens of all time. I would marry it and have little 85 1.2 babies if I could. Okay that’s dramatic, but seriously. When it locks in and focuses, the result to me is unlike any other lens out there.

Vicky - September 25, 2012 - 9:54 am

I think I read every single one of your posts in the last year or so, and every wedding you shot made me more and more excited about Tyler and my wedding. We’ve gotten so many compliments on the previews you posted! And honestly, throughout most of the ceremony, I forgot that we even had photographers there. You were so, SO amazing, and I can’t wait to see Thursday’s post!

Abbey - September 25, 2012 - 9:20 am

Oh Abby!!! Why are you tempting me with another lens!!!!! I love my 85 1.8 and have told myself that I don’t need the 1.2. Hm…. I may have I rent it for my Next wedding.

Spring - September 25, 2012 - 9:19 am

Welcome to the 85 lovers club!!! When I first invested it it I was scared I’d get past the new lens stage and it would be in my bag most of the time and although its not the only lens I use it is my favorite and often it’s all I shoot portraits with :) so glad you love it too!!!

Monday Mash-Up

Last night as Matt and I headed to Harris Teeter to pick up a movie (I had a huge impulse desire to watch I Am Number Four) I was having one of my “giggling-madly-and-skipping-like-a-kid-hopped-up-on-candy” moods. He kept laughing at me asking what I was so excited about, and I think it all stemmed from the fact that there were pumpkins for sale out front at Harris Teeter and smelled like firewood outside. I’m just EXCITED that it’s finally and officially FALL!!!

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

  • I tried the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte again to see if it’d be better the second time around? It wasn’t. This was 48 hours after I’d had a similarly disappointing experience with the Salted Caramel Latte. I think I’ll have to just admit that Starbucks’ “fall favorites” list and I… well, I don’t think we’ll ever be friends. Guess I’ll just have to hold out for my Caramel Brûlée latte and peppermint hot chocolate this winter.
  • Pumpkin lattes may be gross, but guess what’s not? PUMPKIN BAGELS! I tried one at Einstein Bagels yesterday and it blew my mind. It was like eating pumpkin pie… but in bagel form. And less sweet, so it wasn’t overwhelming. So so so delicious!
  • They played Gangham Style at Tyler & Vicky’s wedding this weekend, which, in and of itself, is pretty awesome. Making it infinitely more amazing? The fact that there were at least nine people over the age of 50 that knew the corresponding dance.
  • Speaking of awesome people over the age of 50, shout out to my dad! We did our 20-mile long run on Friday morning and he ran it better than I did. I am so excited to run our second marathon together in five weeks from yesterday! (Can you tell I’m counting down?) I don’t think I’d be able to train for an undertaking this big if I didn’t have my dad to run with.
  • And then speaking of running, it’s infinitely more enjoyable (or conversely, less unenjoyable) to run outside when it’s not 147 degrees with a million % humidity. So if you were thinking about starting to run, this is the BEST time of year for it!
  • Back to my new fall obsession: I have never in my life been so excited about the change of a season, but this year it’s all I can think about. Pumpkins, corn mazes, air so crisp it can clear your sinuses, apple cider, sweaters, leggings, the smell of burning firewood, AHHHHHHH! I’m especially looking forward to all of the crunchy leaves that will soon cover the ground for me to step on.

Here’s one last preview from Tyler and Vicky’s wedding before their post on Thursday!

National Portrait Gallery wedding photography

Happy Monday!

Sarah B. - September 26, 2012 - 8:49 am

Abby, I also LOVE LOVE LOVE fall! And am so excited it’s here!! I also DO NOT like the salted caramel anything at starbucks or likewise, ice! Though, I do like the pumpkin spice latte.. sorry. BUT, I can see why you don’t … it kind of has a strong unusually flavor. I REALLY liked it at Panera… so maybe it’s better there? Who knows! But enjoy fall!! I am super excited it’s here too! :D

Ashley - September 25, 2012 - 3:49 pm

Fall also makes me giddy! I especially love how much the weather is acting like fall – especially compared to last year. And I’ve also never been a huge fan of the Starbucks fall flavors. BUT, I was happy when a barrista told me that you could get the peppermint hot chocolate year round since they always have peppermint flavored syrup.

Vanessa - September 25, 2012 - 7:26 am

I love how giddy you are about fall!! Me too!! :) annnnnd I’m pretty sure you have just motivated me to FINALLY try running. Fall does seem like te best time to start! Woohoo wish me luck! :) ps. Can’t wait to see more from the wedding- the preview is presh!

Amelia Renee - September 24, 2012 - 3:04 pm

OOOOH! I’ve got a secret for you! Try a “Pumpkin CHAI Latte” (it’s not on the board…fun fun!)…sooo much better than a spice latte. of course, that could be me, I’m still adjusting to the little bits of coffee I consume here & there. ;) and you might have inspired me to start running, we’ll see! haha.

Jean - September 24, 2012 - 11:41 am

I think the reason we are liking fall so much this year is because we had such a long summer. I do love the Autumn colors ang most anything pumpkin. I also look forward to family gatherings in the fall. I love the picture you posted. Beautiful!

Christine - September 24, 2012 - 9:26 am

I love crunchy leaves too!! Congrats on your marathon training. Have you tried the PSL with soy?? I am a SPL fan but the soy blew my mind. Maybe give it one more try? :)

Lena - September 24, 2012 - 9:06 am

Can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it is to hear about someone else who didn’t like the Pumpkin Spice Latte! I thought I was the only one in the world who didn’t :)

Karen - September 24, 2012 - 9:02 am

Ok next time you are at Starbucks PLEASE try the “Caramel Apple Spice” it is available year round but it is definitely more “fall in a cup” than the others, and it is SO delicious.