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Monday Mash-Up

Happy Monday, folks! Can someone please explain this insane weather going around the US right now? Last week I saw Instagrams from my friends in Chicago of frozen doorhandles and thermostats reading -15 degrees F, and then Virginia had one of its coldest days on record, and then on Saturday it was 62 degrees. WHAT GIVES, Mother Nature?? It’s not that I hate winter, because I actually kind of love it. But this yo-yoing weather pattern thing is going to give me whiplash.

On another completely unrelated note, I have GOT to stop trying to click my ballpoint pens closed by hitting them against my palm. Half the time, I end up jamming them point-first into my flesh, and not only does it hurt, but I end up with little black dots all over my palm, making me look like some weird Black Plague/chicken pox-hybrid victim.

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

  • My trademark filing came through! Abby Grace Photography is officially mine and mine alone. Don’t worry, I won’t get obnoxious and start including the little “TM” after my name all the time. It’s more for brand protection than anything else, but still. I’m pumped!
  • Matt & I are joining a gym, and running on the treadmill this past weekend brought back my fierce love of competition. I KNOW it’s not a race, but come on. If you get on the treadmill next to me and bump up your pace to 0.2 miles/hour faster than my pace, you bet I’m going to up mine too.
  • I finally hit my limit of how much salad dressing is “too much.” I’m normally of the opinion that lettuce is just a necessary accessory for a really good salad dressing, but on Saturday night I had so much dressing that my poor mesclun mix wilted under the weight of it all. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even finish what was in my bowl at Sweet Green.
  • My mom introduced me to “Call The Midwife” this weekend and I’m hooked! I think it’s the 1950′s fashion and the lengths the producers went to make the show as authentic as possible. Whatever it is, it had me thinking about a career as an Labor & Delivery nurse, until I remembered that I hate needles and I pass out at the sight of blood. Can’t win e’em all, I suppose.

I cannot WAIT to share this stunning ballerina session on the blog tomorrow, so make sure to check back in the morning!

Washington DC ballerina session- Abby Grace Photography

Lindsay - January 13, 2014 - 2:39 pm

You’re absolutely adorable! Love these posts Abby!

Jean - January 13, 2014 - 2:34 pm

Yes, you can have too much dressing on a salad! We love Call the Midwife! Enjoy your gym membership. Love you!

Abbeigh Blake - January 13, 2014 - 12:11 pm

I just started watching Call the Midwife this past weekend too! SO good! Hope all is well! Miss you, lady!

Those “I can’t believe that happened!” moments of 2013

I was originally planning to combine this post with a “highlights reel” of my favorite images from last year, but as I started making my list of “I can’t believe that happened” moments (henceforth to be referred to as “ICBTH”), the list was waaay too long to make into a double post. So you’ll likely have a highlights reel post to look forward to next week. HA. And YOU thought we were done with 2013 review posts, didn’t you? Suckah. (just kidding).

This list is made up of moments/occasions that were especially big/significant for me this past year, whether it was shooting related or something more personal. Every new year in business will definitely have its ups and downs, but 2013 had way more highs than lows. Or maybe I’m just choosing to celebrate the highs, rather than focus on the lows? Whatever- let’s get to it!

(in no particular order other than a loose chronological list)

1) Attending UNITED and being asked to speak on a panel. That was pretty darn cool. I learned a lot at UNITED, one of the most important lessons being just how very many other crazy talented photographers there are out there. I guess you could say I came away from Santa Barbara with a newfound appreciation for my own insignificance. It was awesome! (no sarcasm there, I’m totally serious). AND I had the opportunity to attend a shoot led by Mike Larson- dream come true!

2) Learning to really embrace and celebrate personal work. While in Santa Barbara, I shot all of my “just for me” work on my Contax. It made me realize that I really do love shooting film, but I love it most when I’m shooting for myself, not other people. Since then, I’ve made a much more concerted effort to make time for work that speaks to my soul.

Santa Barbara, California- Abby Grace Photography

3) Speaking at Radford University’s Communication Week to a jam packed lecture hall of Comms students eager to learn about social media. And trying not to sweat through my chambray shirt so that everyone wouldn’t see how nervous I was.

4) This. To capture such an important moment in my friends’ lives was inexpressibly special.

Washington DC military homecoming- Abby Grace

5) Shooting my cousin/maid of honor/childhood confidant’s engagement session on the beautiful Bald Head Island.

Bald Head Island wedding Photographer- Abby Grace

6) Photographing my other high school best friend getting engaged to her sweetheart beneath a massive old oak tree…

7) …and then photographing my their engagement session in Savannah. Another dream come true!

Savannah, Georgia wedding photographer- Abby Grace

8) Traveling to Kansas City to capture the wedding of two of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I wasn’t sure what to expect of KC, but it was amazing!

9) Having the opportunity to work with the incredibly talented Pam & Anne of ATrendy Wedding on several occasions throughout the year!

ATrendy Wedding- Abby Grace Photography

10) Getting baptized alongside my husband. So incredible.

11) Heading to Surrey, England to photograph the wedding of James & Deanna. I’m an Anglophile and I’m not ashamed of it, and shooting a wedding in England was an absolute dream come true. It’s tempting to try and pass it off like it wasn’t THAT big of a deal, because , you know, *tosses hair* “fabulous” photographers get to do sweet stuff like that all the time, but I was geeking out for sure!

Surrey, England wedding photographer- Abby Grace

12) The two-week trip with Matt that resulted from item #11- we had the chance to zip around London for a few days, visit our family friends Andy & Angie in Stamford (my favorite place in all of England), and bum around via all of the various forms of transportation offered in England.

Stamford, England- Abby Grace Photography

13) During the same trip, we also spent time in PARIS! After James & Deanna’s wedding, Paris with my favorite part. I can’t wait to go back!

Paris, France photographer- Abby Grace

14) Hosting my first workshop. This was a game-changer for me, and the experience taught me a lot more than I anticipated. In the best way possible, of course!

15) Ballerina portraits. I finally had the opportunity to photograph the kind of sessions I’d been dreaming about, and it’s turned into a bit of a love affair. I’m up to three sessions at this point and we’re just getting started.

Washington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace

16) Refreshing the brand (quite) a bit. After embracing my love of all things classic, Jeff Shipley took on the daunting task of turning my mumbo-jumbo descriptions of what I wanted and putting them into a website. And he did a marvelous job.

17) Realizing my love of travel, and seeing how much my clients have responded in turn with their own desires to shoot in new places! My 2013 destination engagement and anniversary sessions took me to so many new places last year!

Chicago wedding photographer- Abby Grace

18) In that same vein, shooting in New York City for both Mike & Kristin’s engagement session and Corey & Kelsey’s anniversary session! Matt & I had our own anniversary session in New York in 2012, and ever since then I knew I NEEDED to go back for a shoot of my own. And both times, I walked away feeling as though I was walking on air.

19) Connection Mentoring sessions. It all started with a few informal Skype dates with my friend Kaitlyn, and from there I realized that I really enjoyed the format of long-term mentoring.

20) Anniversary sessions. I’d photographed a few of these in the past, but it wasn’t until this past year that I really began to understand WHY they’re important. Anniversary sessions are really important to me and they’ll definitely be a larger part of my business this year!

New York City photographer- Abby Grace

21) Hosting the northern Virginia Shoot & Share group. This gaggle of photographers that meets once a month in my home never fails to blow me away with their generosity, talent, and ability to inspire.

22) Shooting a wedding in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Because white sand beaches and Caribbean sunsets will never get old to me!

Vieques, Puerto Rico wedding photographer- Abby Grace

Thank you to every single person who’s stopped by the blog in the last year. I’m always so encouraged and uplifted by your feedback, and I really appreciate you spending your time reading my ramblings and viewing my photography. Here’s to an even more incredible 2014!

mike larson - January 14, 2014 - 12:42 am

these are all so cool!!! Wonderful work Abby!

Stephanie Messick - January 13, 2014 - 11:13 am

Congrats on a beautiful 2013 year! And I must add that I am a huge fan of Mike Larson! So awesome!

Terri Baskin - January 11, 2014 - 2:00 pm

Congratulations on a very successful 2013!! I can’t wait to see where God takes you in 2014.

Susan - January 10, 2014 - 4:17 pm

WOW! These are all amazing- most of them took my break away! You are so talented.

Elizabeth V - January 10, 2014 - 1:17 pm

Great recap, Abby!

Heather - January 10, 2014 - 12:26 pm

Watching your business grow over the past year has been so amazing! We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know you as you grow! And if you love them white sand beaches Pensacola is the place for you.. you might have to make a trip :)

Evian Granitz - January 10, 2014 - 11:13 am

Congrats on such a wonderful year Abby! You deserve it!

Jean - January 10, 2014 - 11:10 am

As always, gorgeous photos! Glad you and Matt were able to travel last summer. Those memories will last you a lifetime. “We’ll always have Paris”! Love you!

Sarah H. - January 10, 2014 - 10:19 am

:) love all of this!

Tina Tabibi - January 10, 2014 - 10:03 am

Wow! You had an amazing year. Thanks for sharing your wonderful journey! Cheers to a greater 2014!

Rebekah Hoyt - January 10, 2014 - 9:40 am

WOW girl! You really have had quite a year! I’m so proud of you and excited for you, to see where God has brought you up until this point and to see where He leads in 2014!

Erica - January 10, 2014 - 9:23 am

Congrats on a fulfilled and fantastic year! Here’s to 2014!

Lorin - January 10, 2014 - 9:15 am

Wow! Congrats on all that you experienced & captured this past year, Abby! Thanks for sharing your highlights :)

Little miss Emerson- a newborn lifestyle session

It’s a strange sort of wonder, to watch a friend go from dating her soul mate to marrying him, to carrying their first child, to finally bringing that brand new life home cradled in her and her husband’s arms. And yet somehow, it still feels so natural, because I’ve known for years now that Ashley would make a wonderful mother. And that if the way Shawn cared for and protected Ashley was any indication, that he’d make one heck of a father. So even though I’ll always see Shawn & Ashley as they were at Radford, a pair of life-giving college sweethearts, it’s with joy that I’m now able to introduce you all to these two in one of their greatest roles yet- parents to one perfect little girl, Emerson Page.

Shawn, Ashley, & Emerson, you know how much I love you all. Thank you for yet another perfect afternoon spent in your company, and for the privilege of documenting this next stage of your lives.


Karen Field aka Mom - January 9, 2014 - 10:30 pm

These were beautiful! How will they ever choose which one they’ll have made up? I could see a canvas wrap of either all three of them or one of those touching shots of mother and child- iconic. Happy parenting you guys! God will lead you as you walk this road together! Blessings!

Rebekah Hoyt - January 9, 2014 - 12:39 pm

Abby you are SO good at these portraits. I really hope you’ll do more of them! I love the relaxed, natural, lifestyle approach so much.

heather - January 9, 2014 - 12:07 pm

Congrats!! Beautiful lifestyle session :)

Kristen Thomas - January 9, 2014 - 9:47 am

These are so beautiful! And I wish I had looked as good as her so soon after having babies!

Rachel Wells - January 9, 2014 - 9:17 am

I love these! Lifestyle is my favorite approach to newborn photos!

Nora - January 9, 2014 - 8:58 am

These are fabulous!! The black and white ones are my fav! Amazing job as always! :)

Jean - January 9, 2014 - 8:25 am

Oh, Abby, these are so precious. Brought tears to my eyes! You did a beautiful job showing the love of this little family! Bravo!

Three years

Dear Matt,

Can you believe it was three whole years ago today that we locked eyes and promised each other forever? I know I say this a lot, but I’m still not sure how I tricked you into marrying me. But it’ took a while for me to realize that’s the case, that I’m the lucky one. When we were engaged, I remember people telling us that marriage has a way of showing you just how broken you are as an individual, using your spouse as a vehicle to a deeper form to self-reflection. That notion never really made sense to me, as I thought I was pretty alright to begin with.

But then we got married. I thought I knew you well that day we exchanged rings, I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about you. Your favorite color is red, you love the Redskins (but have a realistic understanding of their limits and abilities), and you have the prettiest brown eyes I’ve ever seen. The more time that’s passed, though, the more I realize how selfish and self-absorbed I am, and not because of anything you’ve said.

It’s from watching you, watching how selflessly you serve others, seeing how quick you are to offer up your time, to remove yourself from comfort to put others at ease. It’s the nights that you’ll go out to the store at 10 pm to get dog food for Lily because I have a shoot the next morning, or how you’ll sacrifice a Saturday morning to help me prep for a wedding. It’s the times that I’ll make some off-handed remark about how much I’d kill for a glass of orange juice, and then you’ll genuinely offer to go to Harris Teeter to pick up some of my favorite Tropicana lots-of-pulp juice, just to make me smile.

It was that one time that I held a grudge against you for a full 24 hours for the simple fault of breaking that wine glass that I loved so much. And then two weeks later, when I realized I’d left a $2,000 laptop on board a plane and that it was gone for forever, you first reaction was to wrap your arms around me and let me cry. When I asked why you weren’t upset with me, your response was that you could see I was already distraught, and you didn’t want to add to it by me feeling anger from you. And then I cried even more because I realized how petty the whole broken-wine-glass episode was, and how wonderful you are, and how much I don’t deserve you but somehow you love me anyways.

Matt, you are my best friend, my favorite person in the world, and the way I experience God’s redeeming, pure, and merciful love the most clearly. You are the cheese to my macaroni, the Sririacha sauce to my pho soup, and the Magic Shell to my cookie dough ice cream. Simply put, life is better as your wife.

Happy anniversary, love.


Photo by the lovely Terra Dawn.

Karen Field aka Mom - January 9, 2014 - 2:37 pm

Wow! Three years ago! I was just looking through some boxed things in your room yesterday and found some bride related things of yours, including a copy of your wedding invitation. I also remember that night after Matt proposed going out to dinner with his parents and the happy couple and your father. I remember remarking aloud that we had prayed since you were born that God would be raising up a little boy in a Christian home just for you and Matt’s father leaning over to tell me that they had done the very same thing for Matt. I don’t know how many times I have remarked to friends that we couldn’t have picked out a better husband for you. God was and is so good to both of you! Tears of happiness falling just thinking about the joy of that reception. And to add to it all, there was your oldest brother, live from Afghanistan via Skype and his Major’s permission arranged behind the scenes so he could “be there” in real time to see you be married from the balcony of the church and then carried down to the reception and then patched in to the two screens down there to read the poem he wrote for you on your wedding day. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. He’d spent close to three hours in the subfreezing temps there to be “present” for your wedding. One day you should post the family photo with him on the laptop in the shot! Your father and I love both of you and wish you a Happy Anniversary!

Rebekah Hoyt - January 9, 2014 - 12:42 pm

God is so good. I’m so blessed to see how He works in your marriage! Happy Anniversary Abby & Matt! :)

Sarah G - January 8, 2014 - 6:27 pm

Cheers to 3 years and the amazing 80 more you have to look forward too :)

Kristen Duffy - January 8, 2014 - 5:36 pm

You two are wonderful. :-)

Lisa W. - January 8, 2014 - 12:45 pm

Beautiful post :) Happy anniversary!!

Shalese - January 8, 2014 - 11:50 am

This made me tear up! Happy Anniversary to you both! :)

Wendy - January 8, 2014 - 10:09 am

Happy Anniversary Abby and Matt! :)

Jean - January 8, 2014 - 10:02 am

It sure does not seem like 3 years since you two got married. Happy Anniversary! Love you both!

Corey & Kelsey- a New York City anniversary shoot at Christmas

This past year was a year of checking off items from my “I-just-have-to-do-this-or-I’ll-die-unfulfilled” list. All of the places Matt & I got to travel, all of the incredible people we got to meet. Kelsey was one of those people- she came all the way from New Hampshire to attend my first workshop last summer, and I knew right off the bat I was going to love her. So when she contacted me a few weeks after the workshop to ask if I might possibly be interested in shooting an anniversary session for her and her husband Corey in New York where they got engaged three years ago, I couldn’t type “YES!!!” quickly enough! We scheduled their session the weekend before Christmas (another bucket list item!), and due to stroke up luck, we ended up with unseasonably warm temperatures so we could focus more on Corey & Kelsey and celebrating their love, and less on avoiding hypothermia. It was perfect from beginning to end.

Corey & Kelsey, you two are perfect together. Matt & I loved having the chance to get to know you both, and I can’t begin to thank you enough for the honor of photographing your love in one of my favorite places on earth, during my favorite time of year! It truly was a pleasure.

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New York City anniversary portrait session- Abby Grace Photography

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[…] lot) of my favorites from our session in NYC. You can see Abby’s blog post about our session here. To any couple considering an anniversary session, I can’t recommend it enough. I think […]

Emilia Jane - January 8, 2014 - 9:53 am


kaitlyn phipps - January 7, 2014 - 9:27 pm

oh my goodness. took my breath away. so so beautiful abby.

Jean - January 7, 2014 - 4:56 pm

Beautiful photos of a beautiful couple. So happy you were able to shoot in NYC.

Rebekah Carter - January 7, 2014 - 3:52 pm

Wow, these are great! I love her little black dress with the zipper down the back like that.

Kathryn Grace - January 7, 2014 - 2:13 pm

So lovely!

Kate - January 7, 2014 - 10:19 am

Abby! I love the B&W photos–and the ones at night? To die for! Beautiful work.

Rebekah Hoyt - January 7, 2014 - 9:47 am

So beautiful, Abby!

Kelsey DeWitt - January 7, 2014 - 9:31 am

I don’t even know how to respond to this other than I LOVE ALL OF THEM! Thank you so much Abby, I can’t even begin to describe how much I love all of these. Thank you thank you thank you! xoxo