Two weeks ago, I blogged about my Top 5 online resources for photographers- if you haven’t read that one, check it out here! Today, I thought it’d be helpful for some of y’all to go over my Top 5 software/programs. Every photographer is different and has a unique set of tools that helps them do their job in a way that only they can do, so here’s a look into my toolbox!

Top 5 Software/Program resources for photography business- Abby Grace

1. LightRoom5- I do all of my editing in LightRoom (LR)! Prior to discovering this wonderful, beautiful, time-saving goddess of a program, I was editing everything in PhotoShop. That means I was opening each individual image, editing it, saving it, closing it, then opening up the next one. Multiply that process by 150-600 images, depending on the event? It was taking me SIX WEEKS to turn around weddings. But when I switched to LR, the simple fact that I could edit one image and then copy + paste those edits to the image next to it? It saved me hours, days, really, of time spent in front of my computer.

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)

 Top 5 Software/Program resources for photography business- Abby Grace

3. Align- the BEST album design company out there! I needed to outsource my album design in a bad way, and after one trial run with Align I was hooked. Every time I place a new order with them, my decision to switch is reaffirmed. They do a phenomenal job with the design itself, and I love knowing that all the follow-up corrections that my couples request are taken care of by my Align designer Andrea as well. Worth every single penny! (Read more HERE)

4. Pixifi- studio management software that has decluttered my business in a big way. Prior to using Pixifi, I was still having my clients send in signed, paper contracts and signed, paper checks. It was slow, cumbersome, and not at all secure. Switching to Pixifi has made a world of difference in my client experience and allows me to serve my clients even better than before! This is a great one for more than just photographers- anyone who needs to keep track of client details, dates, contracts and payments? Pixifi is a great choice. (Read more HERE)

5. PASS- you guys already know I have a crush on this one. PASS has made it almost stupidly easy for me to get images to my clients. Rather than having to make a trip to the post office every time I finished a wedding, engagement or anniversary, and rather than having my clients wait the few days it takes to get a USB drive or DVD delivered, I can now send my couples their images as soon as they’ve finished uploading. This means I’m able to offer same-day delivery for photographs: the day I finish editing, I begin the upload, and once that upload completes, my couples have their images in hand. PASS has been amazing for simplifying, and has honestly become a point of marketing for me! (Read more HERE and HERE).

Top 5 Software/Program resources for photography business- Abby Grace

And for a bonus #6,

6. White House Custom Colour- I love their ROES system! It makes ordering prints for my anniversary couples super easy, since I can simply highlight an entire batch of images, drop them into the 5″x7″ window, and order a copy of every image with no more than a few clicks of the mouse. All of my portrait proofs are ordered through WHCC!

I’d love to hear about your favorites! What’s the BEST program in your toolkit?

  • Jean - love these photos! You are so talented!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Hernandez - This was a HUGE eye opener for us! We’ve been way behind on office management doing everything ourselves the old school paper way. Just signed up for PixiFi! Can’t wait to go paperless and de-stress waiting for the mailman. I told them you sent us. :)ReplyCancel

  • David Abel - Great post Abby! I love blogstomp, also SmartAlbums is great for album design if you don’t outsource.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Fike - I’m getting ready to try Pixifi myself! Super excited about “decluttering” my business, too. One thing I’ve long wondered about is PASS. I like to send my clients things in the mail, especially my pretty pink flash drives. But honestly, doing mail is so cumbersome…as you mentioned. Sometimes it takes me hours to put packages together…but I continue to do it because I know my clients like it, and I think there’s value in mail. Do you still send your clients something in the mail when their pictures are finished? A flash drive? A thank you note?? Sending them a link to an online gallery after they spend hundreds just doesn’t seem exciting…ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - i love love love this list! One of my fave programs that I started using last year was photo mechanic!! It makes it so much easier for me to cull images before I import them over to Lightroom!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Stephen - You don’t use PhotoMechanic to cull?ReplyCancel

Happy first Monday of Spring, sweet blog readers!! It snowed on the real first day of Spring last week here in Virginia, but then in true Commonwealth spirit, it was 60 degrees and sunny the following day. I myself am praying that the 60-and-sunny stuff sticks around, because as much as I love the beauty of snowfall, I think I’m ready to kiss that stuff goodbye until late November.

Last week was a crazy one! Remember how I promised to post vacation photos, and then didn’t? It’s because I got a super fun bout of the flu on Tuesday night. Did I mention it was SUPER fun? Because it totally was. Nothing but ginger ale, crackers, prescription-strength anti-nausea, and chicken broth for two days- my idea of a great time, amiright? In all honesty, I’m grateful it didn’t last longer. And I’m now seriously considering *thinking about* getting the flu shot next year. For those of you who know how scared I am of needles, this is a big step!

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

  • I get that posting diptychs (a side-by-side pairing of two photographs) on Instagram of the exact same image of yourself is a trendy thing to do with fashion bloggers, but EVERY TIME I see it, I assume it’s one of those “find the 10 differences!” games like you used to see in a Highlights magazine in the doctor’s waiting room. Am I alone in that?
  • The most dangerous area of Target: the office supplies section, and the home decor section. Y’all know I have, like, ZERO skills when it comes to decorating, which is why Target is such a volatile threat- everything’s already pre-coordinated! So I don’t NEED design skills, I just need to decide on approximately how many navy blue + white geometrical accent pillows we need for the living room. It’s becoming a real problem.
  • We finally hung our first photos of US this weekend! We’ve been homeowners for more than seven months now, but this is better than in the past: we were 1.5 years into marriage before I hung our first wedding photo. So I’m getting better!
  • My parents moved into their new home!! For my February APWW girls, they’ll know how exciting this is- my parents just bought a farmhouse that was built in 1870 (Dad calls it their “new old house”), and it’s my favorite house in the whole world. We’ll be shooting the portraits portion of all future A Practical Wedding Workshops dates there, because it’s too perfect NOT to photograph over and over! See what I mean??

A Practical Wedding Workshop for photographers- Abby Grace

Sigh. It looks like Green Gables. And my mom and I spent Saturday night talking away in their new living room, quoting Jane Austen and altogether loving where she and my Dad are in life right now.

You know what could be fun? Starting a weekly round-up of awesome posts from around the web that y’all might like to read! Let’s start off strong with two of my favorite photographers to follow-

  1. HERE is a post from Katelyn James, all about using off-camera flash to shoot in barns! I don’t photograph barn weddings anymore, but there’s a lot of awesome content in this one post alone that absolutely applies to shooting in other types of venues!
  2. And then HERE is a post from J&M announcing their new lighting guide that they’ll be selling! Pretty much everything I learned at the beginning, when it comes to off-camera flash, came at the generous knowledge of J&M. Their Lighting Intensive is such a good workshop, and this ebook is the perfect solution for someone who may not be able to make the in-person day of learning!
  3. Hey look. My work is on Buzzfeed again! Check out THIS article on 25 Harry Potter wedding ideas!

Happy Monday, dearies! Enjoy some floral eye candy :).

A Practical Wedding Workshop for photographers- Abby Grace

  • Sydni Jackson - Ooh, I love your new “Leave a note” button. My in-laws have an 18th century farm house in Richmond, it’s so fun to visit! I hope they still have it by the time we have kids, I would love for my future kids to get to experience it. :) Also, you should totally print those “catch/keeper” signs from the buzzfeed article!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - i am also glad to see Spring appear. Itvseemed like such a long winter. Looking forward to seeing you soon!ReplyCancel

  • Tuesday Mash-Up » Modern International Wedding Photographer - […] all about Creative anyways… sorry about that. But now it’s time for link love! Remember last week how I said I wanted to start sharing posts from around the web that I think y’all might […]ReplyCancel

I will be the first to admit that I am NOT the best at this sort of thing. Ideas for styled shoots usually start as me dreaming this big huge dream, becoming overly excited and telling someone else about it, getting vendors together, picking a date… and then forgetting about it until the week before. At which point I think kick myself for not getting my crap together earlier, panicking that I’ve asked all these people to donate time and resources to something that may be a total flop, and then end up blubbering about how bad of a business owner I am to Matt with a glass of champagne in hand. It’s not pretty.

Needless to say, I don’t recommend this route. Fortunately, it’s always ended up working out because that last week is spent feverishly planning, shopping, and sometimes DIYing/life-hacking some sort of prop, but still. Not the best route to take if you prefer a stress-free living!

elegant styled shoot- Abby Grace Photography

If you prefer to take the LESS stressful route, then here are some helpful tips to aid you in making the most of a styled shoot!

1. DO come up with a Pinterest board of how you envision things coming together! The more clear details you can provide at the outset, the easier it’ll be for other vendors to say “yes” and get on board.

2. DON’T take on the responsibility of coordinating/designing if your talents don’t lay in that area. Instead, find an amazing wedding designer/coordinator and ask them to get on board, and be very open about how much/little you’re hoping they’ll take on for the shoot.

3. DO aim high! Ask a vendor you’ve been dying to work with to participate!

4. But DON’T be too disappointed if they decline. They may be crazy busy, or perhaps they already have a couple of styled shoots line up that month and don’t think they can handle another. Give grace and chug along!

5. DO test your equipment before showing up to the shoot. I don’t recommend going out and getting a brand new piece of equipment the night before and counting on said equipment for the shoot the next day, without ever having opened the box.

True story: I did this at my last styled shoot with an octabank and flash bracket. Despite me knowing how to use an octa, I sat there for 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get the bracket to fasten onto my light stand, wasting other people’s time. In the end, the limousine owner, Jack, ended up just holding my octabank in the air, which ended up working out pretty well… but yeah, spare yourself the embarrassment and test ALL your equipment before arriving.

6. DON’T forget to adequately thank everyone involved- they’re giving up time with family, or time they could have spent working, and sometimes in addition to money they’ve spent. Floral designers especially- they have to pay out of pocket for those blooms, don’t take that lightly. Make sure every member of the team knows how grateful you are!

7. DO be clear on what everyone will need to bring/do for the shoot! Unclear expectations can lead to things being forgotten or only half-done on the wedding day!

8. DON’T just re-iterate everything else you’ve seen that’s trending in the wedding industry. Try to come up with something new, or come up with a fresh perspective of something that’s already popular!

9. DO make sure to realistically give yourself enough time to plan.

10. DON’T treat the vendors you’re working alongside with anything less than the same respect you’d treat your couples. Deliver and submit the images quickly, and be good about returning emails in a timely manner!

And in the spirit of styled shoots, here are some favorites from the Harry Potter styled wedding shoot I did a few years ago with Bree of Capitol Romance! I went back and re-edited them, because my old editing style was, let’s be honest, atrocious. See the shoot in its entirety on Green Wedding Shoes!

Harry Potter styled wedding inspiration shoot- Abby Grace Photography

Harry Potter styled wedding inspiration shoot- Abby Grace Photography

Harry Potter styled wedding inspiration shoot- Abby Grace Photography

Harry Potter styled wedding inspiration shoot- Abby Grace Photography

Harry Potter styled wedding inspiration shoot- Abby Grace Photography

  • Tatyana - Such great tips – and love the photos!ReplyCancel

  • Leah - Thank you for this post! I so want to do my first styled shoot this year, and keep feeling so overwhelmed and then nothing gets done. Your tips are mighty handy! :-DReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Great tips! And I love that shoot – it’s so darling!ReplyCancel

  • Jaclyn - I’m moving and in the process of thinking of a styled shoot so I definitely needed this today Abby! Question: What do you think is a realistic timeframe to plan a styled shoot? I feel like once I get the idea I just want to do it in like 2 weeks haha and that can’t happen but I feel like a month and a half is good time, what do you think?ReplyCancel

There’s this difficult balance, being a photographer who captures precious moments in my couples’ lives: I know what my anniversary couples WANT, but then I also know what they’re doing to NEED.

They want their digital files, because psychologically speaking, it allows you to rest easy knowing you can print you images in the future. You know, when you get around to it. But the problem is, we never get around to it. We *think* we will, but it gets put off time and time again. Kind of like how Matt & I have been married for more than four years now, and we STILL don’t have a wedding album.
Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

After a few years in the business, though, I know what my Anniversary couples need are prints. Tangible, touchable proof of how they felt that day in front of my lens, visual evidence that it all began with just the two of them.

So I give them both. Their PASS gallery, which enables them to save the digital files for the future, but then I also send a set of 5″x7″ photographs. Because I want to know for sure that their time with me doesn’t end with their files living on computer, I want it to end with photographs in frames around their home- constant reminders that their marriage is worth fighting for.

You guys know my heart behind anniversaries. You all know why I love photographing married couples. The session itself is half of the experience- the photographs themselves are the other half! The prints are what serve as an everyday reminder of how you felt in that moment; for me and our anniversary photos, it was the chill of the November air, the warmth of his embrace, and the feeling that I’d never been so in love with him as I was at that exact moment in time.

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

These photos need to be printed, and I believe this so strongly that I decided to print them myself to make sure my couples don’t forget in the hustle and bustle of every day life!

I know there are some business models that would advocate keeping the files to myself, and charging my clients for each print in order to make sure they do, indeed, print their photographs. And as a result, I’d make a nice sum from the print sales. But I don’t want my couples to feel like I’m holding their images hostage, and I don’t want them to begrudgingly order prints at inflated prices. I want my couples to depart from me feeling well-loved and provided for! So I’ve taken the Shoot & Share business model of providing my couples with their files, and added in an extra dose of love with a full set of prints. It’s the best of both worlds!

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

The prints are delivered in gorgeous portrait boxes, handmade by Michael Chinn- I couldn’t be happier with them! They’re tied with a delicate silk, hand-dyed ribbon from FrouFrou Chic, and sent along with a handwritten note. I’ve come to love sending prints to my couples, because it’s the perfect way to complete their Anniversary Experience- on a sweet, sweet note.

Just a few Instas from some sweet friends who loved their prints!

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

 

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

 

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

 

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

To learn more about The Anniversary Experience with Abby Grace, go HERE!

  • lindsay - LOVE IT!!! So gorgeous and so you!! This makes me even more excited for April!!ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - LOVE the heart behind this AND your pretty packaging! Question: how do you put the borders on with WHCC? Is that one of the options that I’m missing??ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea Anderson - We absolutely LOVE ours!!ReplyCancel

  • Kat - This is BEAUTIFUL, Abby!!!! Literally dying.ReplyCancel

  • alex blackmon - Dan and I appreciated these prints SO MUCH!! It was so unexpected and sweet, and we loved being able to immediately frame these and put them around our home!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Aww did we book you to early to not get this!? Either way I LOVE this, such pretty packaging! And still love our photos so much :)ReplyCancel

  • Rici - These little goodies look so very elegant! WOW. Great ideas Abby!ReplyCancel

  • Sydni Jackson - Wow, you’re amazing!! Okay, it’s official… if me and Whit ever do an anniversary shoot, we’re coming to you!ReplyCancel

Guys, I’m REALLY excited that it’s Monday! Why? Because it’s supposed to get up to 60 degrees outside today!! I think Spring might finally be on her way, and I, for one, could not be more happy to see her! It’s been a crazy long winter here in Virginia and I am ready for warm weather. I love that winter gives you the excuse to stay in and cuddle up, but walking two dogs one a morning when its so cold that your breath freezes on your scarf is just plain miserable. This morning, I only had to wear a sweatshirt + light jacket outside! NO GLOVES! Life is good :).

I’m pretty sure Lily is actually a cat. Why? you might ask. She certainly looks like a dog, albeit a funny-looking one, but a dog all the same? My reasons for thinking she’s actually a cat, dear readers, is because she’s been sitting here under my chair for the last 15 minutes groom Sirius by licking his face nonstop. And this is a regular occurrence for her. She also regularly sits and licks at her paws in a very cat-like way. She snarls [hisses] at Sirius when he hops on the bed or couch to near to her liking, and in general, behaves like a total princess. So I think I might start calling her “kitty.” But in the same voice that Boo from Monsters Inc. uses. Like “KITTY!” Know what I mean?

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

  • Real talk: people at amusement parks have NO spatial awareness. None at all. I lost track of how many people walked straight into me because they weren’t paying attention to where they were walking. I mean, it’s sort of understandable, what with how MUCH there is to look at in Diagon Alley, but seriously: PUT THE CAMERA DOWN and watch where you’re going, at least a little bit?]
  • And there I go sounding like a crotchety old man again. Sorry about that.
  • Fun new project that the Springmanns (that’s Matt & I) will be working on: we just ordered about 10,000 honeybees! My dad raised bees with my brothers and I growing up, so Matt & I are trying our hand at it. And before you ask, no, we’re not keeping the bees at our town house. Matt’s aunt has property out in rural Virginia where our hives will be located. So that’ll either be a great success or a tremendous tragedy. Stay tuned to see which it is!
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is even better when you’re with your best friend in the world. Seriously- having your best girlfriend to geek out alongside about the littlest details in Hogsmeade is the best! I can’t wait to share our vacation photos on the blog this week!

Here’s an iPhone snap from this morning of Lily being a cat, giving Sirius a tongue bath. And don’t be fooled by Sirius’ startled expression; he loves it.

Monday-Mash-Up_0002

And HERE is a selfie with Rapunzel, because she is the CUTEST Disney Princess of all time!! And yep, I was #Disneybounding as Cinderella :). More on that in my vacation post later this week!

Disneybounding at disney world- Abby Grace Photography

I think one reason I love Monday Mash-Up is because it just feels like a conversation! No pretense, no fluff, just giving it to you straight. Like publicly admitting that I dressed up like a Disney character. Maybe that’s why it’s often my most-read blog post of the week!

  • ashley mitchell - BEES?! I love it. We really want chickens. Our neighbor has chickens (named Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres no less), and we really really want some. Apparently in Portsmouth you can have up to SIX lol. I will trade you fresh eggs for fresh honey – deal?!ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - hahah that costume is the best — can’t wait for your vacation post!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - Oh my goodness, the dogs are too cute! My corgi is often quite cat-like also.ReplyCancel

  • Rici - Yes indeed. I love your Monday Mash ups, totally understand the rest of the world if it is the most read post ;)
    HONEYbees? Seriously? I like you more and more!!! My grandfather had bees as well! Do you know the song Honeybee by Gloria Gaynor? Oh please go and listen to it!
    Lot os bee-buzz-love to you!ReplyCancel

  • Sydni Jackson - I always come around for your MMUs! And, you’re getting BEES??!! I’m so jealous!! I really like bees, and really really like the environment, so I would love to become a beekeeper one day. My husband says that if I got bees then he would get spiders… we respectively hate the other one tremendously! Hmm.ReplyCancel