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WE’RE BUYING A HOUSE!!

Yeah, all those cryptic Tweets and “I wish I could say what’s going on” hints I’d been dropping? This is what those were about! AHHH! Somebody PLEASE pinch me, because I still feel like I’m dreaming! Please excuse the quality of my iPhone photos in this post- I intentionally left my camera at home for our walkthrough, so this is all I have at the moment :).

A few weeks ago, we drove by my childhood dream house and saw that it was for sale. After an intense 24 hours of crunching numbers and getting my hopes way, way up, we realized it just wasn’t realistic- the house was at the very end of our budget, and because it was a farmhouse built in the 1800′s, there was a ton of work that needed to go into it. So I moped around a bit the next day, frustrated with myself for being foolish enough to invest hope in a pipe dream.

Then Matt & I were surfing RedFin later that afternoon when we both came upon a townhouse in Sterling, only about 15 minutes from where we are now. It looked alright from the images posted by the realtor, and there was an open house currently going on at that very moment. More to distract myself from the wallowing in self-pity I’d been doing, we decided to jump in the car and head over to see this one.

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I’ve staunchly maintained in the past that I didn’t want to buy a townhouse- so many of Reston’s town homes are dark, old, and outright ugly. But as soon as we walked into this one in Sterling, I forgot alllll about that- this was PERFECT. Plenty of room, hardwood floors, and most importantly, TONS of natural light. Ahhh! Matt & I looked at each other as soon as we walked in the ground floor- this was it! And with every room we stepped into, we fell more and more in love. We put in an offer the next day and within three hours, the seller had agreed to our terms :).

That was less than four weeks ago, and yesterday we got the green light that our mortgage went through just fine and we’re good for closing early! For most folks, I know buying a home is just the next natural step in your adult lives. But with the insane housing prices in northern Virginia, it’s always seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle. Pricing was always too high, and seeing how hard my parents had to work to own the home they’re in now, I just thought that we’d never really get there.

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[^This is where the September 8th workshop will be going down! SEE HOW MUCH LIGHT THERE IS??]

We DID get there, though! Throughout this whole process Matt and I have been continuously blown away by God’s graciousness- that the perfect home for us became available just as we were realizing the first one wasn’t going to happen, that it was the right price, that we had an awesome realtor working to negotiate in our favor, even the fact that we’re able to close early. We’re feeling so, so blessed right now. And not in a humble-brag kind of way, but in a “we don’t deserve this at all, yet it was dropped in our laps anyways by a God that loves us and knows what’s best for us” sort of way.

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That dream house of mine from the 1800′s will still be there in 30 years. But you know, right now? This townhouse is my dream home. And I’m feeling so incredibly content. And maybe one day, it’ll be us living in that old farm house, but I’m honestly not worried about anymore. We’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.

More photos and house updates in the weeks and months to come. I’m sure I’ll have more than a few tales for y’all to laugh with me over as we learn what it looks like to be homeowners for the first time! But right now, I kinda just feel like popping a bottle of bubbly.

Lydia - August 4, 2014 - 8:59 pm

Congratulations! I can’t wait to see all the blog posts as you have fun decorating your new rooms!

Spring - August 2, 2014 - 7:51 am

Congrats!!!!! So glad you found the perfect fit!!! As a photographer and a realtor I’m double happy for you!! Xoxo

Faye Bernoulli - August 2, 2014 - 2:27 am

Yay, congrats!! I feel ya on the insane cost of housing…it’s not better in the San Francisco area! Still waiting for our dream home to happen in God’s good timing :)

Sarah - August 1, 2014 - 6:22 pm

YAY!!! It’s so gorgeous!!! I’m so so happy for you two. Can’t wait to see it!

Matoli - August 1, 2014 - 11:47 am

HUGE congrats to you both Abby!! :)

Theresa - August 1, 2014 - 10:53 am

Such a cute picture of Mattie! Love that guy!

SO excited for you guys! Can’t wait to see it. XOXO.

Megan - August 1, 2014 - 9:47 am

CONGRATS!! It really is the best feeling and now begins the real fun…. decorating and making it your own! Enjoy every minute :)

Mia Bjerring - August 1, 2014 - 9:15 am

Congratulations to the both of you! It looks amazing and I just love all that natural light. Gorgeous! Hope you are going to love living there!

Mary - August 1, 2014 - 8:54 am

YIPPEEEE!!!!! Soooo excited for you both!! Such an exciting time!!!! (And of course, I can’t wait to see it for the workshop!!! Eeeee!!!!) xoxo

Jean - August 1, 2014 - 8:53 am

We are so happy for you and Matt! Can’t wait to see it. Looks perfect for you two.

Chelsea Anderson - August 1, 2014 - 8:45 am

How exciting!!!! I’m so excited for you to have a new place!! Buying a house is so big, especially for northern virginia! I know how tough it can be to find and lose great homes! A big congratulations, friend!!!

Lelia Marie - August 1, 2014 - 8:42 am

Hooray!!! I’m so excited for you both! That is the best feeling ever :-) I can’t wait to see more!

Jill Powers - August 1, 2014 - 8:35 am

YAY!!! That’s SO exciting, Abby! I’m so happy for you two!! xoxo

Shannon S. - August 1, 2014 - 8:25 am

Ahh yay! Congrats! This is EXACTLY the same situation that we fell into when we bought our first house! I saw my dream house for sale, realized it was WAY out of our budget but seeing that house started the house searching process that led us to our current dream house. God is so gracious to us in that he can use the process to lead us to “immeasurably more”. So thankful.

Shalese - August 1, 2014 - 8:22 am

WOO CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! It looks BEAUTIFUL and bright and ready to be filled with some truly fabulous memories. :)

lindsay - August 1, 2014 - 8:21 am

Yaay!!! CONGRATULATIONS y’all!! Sterling is my home town- you’ll enjoy it!

Lessons Learned: 5 tips for formatting images in a blog post

I’ve learned a lot over the past three + years of blogging. How many photos are “too many,” what dimensions work best, the subtle nuances that can determine whether a blog post is a success or failure. It can be complicated to explain WHY things work the way they do, but I’ll try my best!

One of the factors that can determine your mortality rate (how many people make it to the end before closing out of your page) for a blog post is HOW you’ve paired and formatted your images. Too many images and people will exit the page, but too few images may leave your viewer unfulfilled. I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong way to do things, but I will share what works for me both when it comes to my own blog, and what I’ve observed in viewing others’ blog posts.

1) Use BlogStomp. I wrote about this program a while back, but I’ll say it again: if you don’t already have this program and you blog on a somewhat regular basis, GO BUY BLOGSTOMP. Just do it- you’ll save yourself loads of time!

2) Mix up the order of verticals, horizontals, and paired images. You want to give your audience a variety in format, so instead of ordering photos “solo horizontal, solo horizontal, solo horizontal, solo horizontal, solo vertical,” try to mix it up. I don’t have a particular formula, I just try not to do more than two of any particular format in a row.

3) Be careful of pairing too-similar images together in a diptych (two images side-by-side). I know it’s tempting, you love BOTH iterations of that one portrait, but by pairing both together, you’re actually halving the impact of each image by splitting your viewers attention between the two. Instead, choose the BEST photo and allow it to stand alone. Or pair one image with a detail photo, perhaps of the bouquet or something, and then allow the strong portrait to stand alone.

THIS is how I used to pair images- I liked both and couldn’t decide, and ended up diving your attention between the two of them.

Pairing images for the blog- Abby Grace Photography

THIS is how I ended up blogging the image within the context of Billy & Jenny’s post, as a standalone portrait. Much more pleasing to the eye!

Pairing images for the blog- Abby Grace Photography

It also could have gone well with a detail shot like this. The images are different enough that it no longer feels like both are competing for your attention- they’re complementary, rather than competitive. See what I mean?

Pairing images for the blog- Abby Grace Photography

4) Save the BEST images for your blog post. Your audience doesn’t need to see every. single. portrait from an engagement session or wedding- you want to show the BEST of the best. By including less-dynamic photos, you’re taking away from the truly stellar images that deserve the spotlight.

I still struggle with this, but trust me: a blog post with 150+ images is going to lose a lot of viewers before you get to the end of the post, vs. a post with 75ish well-paired images. Given the short attention span of internet users these days, we want to make the absolute most of the time they’re going to spend on your blog post. Too many images and they’ll get bored, and will navigate away from your site.

5) Consider taking off that watermark. I know, you’re worried about people stealing your images. But with the ability to screenshot + the prevalence of PhotoShop, if someone wants to steal your work, a watermark isn’t going to stop them. That watermark is distracting and is taking attention away from your photography. Don’t believe me? Just look at one of my old blog posts. Tell me that watermark isn’t distracting compared to this post from a few weeks ago.

I hope this was helpful! And I’d love to hear any advice y’all might have, too!

Kylie Nicholson - August 6, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Love your work, Abby, and this post!

Janine Enold - July 31, 2014 - 9:43 am

I’ve heard some type of tips for better web impact before but sometimes you just get caught up in the images you love and forget! I need to go back and look at the blog post I’ve been working before I publish it :-)! Thanks Abby for the reminder!

Chelsea Anderson - July 31, 2014 - 9:36 am

Thanks for the suggestions! I actually needed this more than I thought.

Travel dates for Anniversary Sessions!

Hellooooo wonderful friends! You may (or may not) have noticed that the blog’s been empty to far this week- you can thank my dear friend The Summer Cold for that. I’ve been consuming massive amounts of vitamin and several mugs of tea of the past couple of days, and frankly, just didn’t feel up to firing up the old Mac. But all is well now! I haven’t sneezed since I woke up this morning, so that’s always a good sign!

Most of my “I’m available, who wants to shoot?” sort of PSAs are made over on Instagram (follow me at @abbygracephoto!), but I wanted to share over here as well. I’m so excited for a few travel dates on my calendar coming up in the next few months

I’ll be in San Francsico for a wedding next month for a couple of days and would love nothing more than to shoot an Anniversary Experience Session! I have one specially priced session available on August 17th or 18th, so if you’re in the Bay area and any of THIS resonates with you, I would LOVE to hear from you!

Red Rock Canyon anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

Santa Barbara anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

And then, come October, I’ll be in shooting in New York City again, too! It’s my FAVORITE big US city and some of my favorite work was shot in Manhattan- for me, New York is a catalyst for taking my work to bigger and better heights. Again, I have one specially priced Anniversary Experience session available, on either October 8th or 10th- if you’re in need of some sweet time with your spouse and it’s been a while since you’ve been in front of the camera, shoot me an email. I’ll be staying in Manhattan but would also love to shoot in Brooklyn or Williamsburg!

New York City Central Park anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

New York City Central Park anniversary photographer

New York City public library anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

Questions? Feel free to shoot me an email (abby@abbygracephotography.com) or check out the Anniversary Experience website.

Lukas VanDyke - August 1, 2014 - 4:48 pm

Ours is the best! =)

Having the audacity to ask to shoot around the world

If you’ve ever stumbled upon this blog before today, chances are, you’re familiar with the fact that Europe is my second love and that world travel inspires me to great and greater levels. If today’s the first time you’ve ever read my blog, now you know: Europe is my second love and world travel inspires me to great and greater levels. We good? Good.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/abby-grace-in-europe

Last year at some point I blogged about places I’d love to shoot, and today, I’m gonna do it again! If this past year of business has taught me anything, it’s that even my most far-fetched dreams still aren’t too big to be conquered. I’ve had some crazy awesome experiences, like going on a solo trip to Europe just for the inspiration of it all, and I’m hungry for my next adventure. God continually shocks me by the ways that he provides for Matt & I- three years ago at this point, I was still at my corporate job, wondering how I’d ever build my business to a level that would allow me to go full-time. Leave my comfortable Fortune 500 job less than a year later? I’d have never believed you. Shoot a wedding in England, or an anniversary session in Paris? Ha, I’d have told you, that’s impossible. But then it happened. And so have numerous other incredible opportunities. So, please excuse me while I stick my head in the clouds and dream a bit more.

One day soon, I’d love to shoot a wedding in Venice, Italy.

One day soon, I want to visit and shoot in Scotland.

One day soon, I would probably die at the chance to shoot in Malta.

One day soon, I want to photograph an anniversary session in London’s Notting Hill.

One day soon, I’d love to capture an elopement in the heart of New York City.

One day soon, I want to shoot in the Loire Valley in France.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/abby-grace-in-europe

Are these seriously audacious? Yep. That’s fine, though- because to me, the more audacious a goal, the more exciting it is when you’re finally able to experience those dreams coming true! This past March, as I was standing on the Cliffs of Moher photographing Heather, I remembering feeling completely overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. That I was there, and so was Heather, and we were photographing a session at one of the most breathtaking scenes I’d ever seen. That this was a dream coming to fruition right there in front of me. I hope YOU get to experience a moment like that, because it’s something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

There’s something powerful about saying your goals out loud, so that’s what I’m doing .If you happen to be planning an event in any of the aforementioned locations, I would love to talk with you about customizing coverage to make that work!

One more photo, for good measure.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/abby-grace-in-europe

 

Rici - July 28, 2014 - 12:09 pm

Oh and if you need a travel companion / translator ect for Italia <3 <3 <3 let me know. ^^

Rici - July 28, 2014 - 12:08 pm

LOVE it Abby!! So much! Go for it!!!

Amy Dunkel - July 24, 2014 - 4:48 pm

This was really inspiring for me :) Thank you for sharing.

Jean - July 24, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Keep dreaming big dreams! You’re doing great!

Lisa Shea - July 24, 2014 - 10:54 am

I love everything about this post. Thanks for the little boost of inspiration to keep pushing for a freelance career that lets me travel constantly, wherever I want to go! Also, I will keep you posted on our future photography wants, but it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility that one day we’ll be somewhere cool and want you to come take some beautiful pictures :)

Yuri Long - July 24, 2014 - 10:05 am

you are totally right! i don’t know what it is about writing things down and putting them out into the universe, but it increases the chances of them coming to fruition by about 1000%. last january i sat down and wrote out a list of goals for the year (it was supposed to be a blog post but never left my “draft” folder). not something i normally do, but i just opened it to realize that over half the list was already accomplished — without my even having referred to it since typing it up!

Tina - July 24, 2014 - 10:03 am

LOVE this post! and love love LOVE your goals! An anniversary session in notting hill would be so adorable and charming! We all have goals, huge and big scary goals and it’s so great to get it out there and go after them! I was thinking of writing a post just like this :) You’ve inspired me to put my big, scary dreams out there! :)

Melissa - July 24, 2014 - 9:53 am

Go get ‘em, girl!

William & Meg- a chic, preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island

This is one of the most personal weddings I’ll ever post here. Meg, my cousin, childhood confidant, fellow lover of Pixi Sticks, and the maid of honor at my own wedding, married her high school sweetheart William, and I could not be more thrilled for the two of them! Watching Meg with William, it was was so, SO easy to see why they fell in love- she is totally at ease in his are, more herself than I’ve ever seen her before. He brings out the best in her, that fun, excitable Meg that I grew up going to the beach with, the version of her that only those of us who know her best get to experience. He elicits a level of joy in her that makes your heart swell just being around them.

Everything came together perfectly. The weather? It was 75 and sunny, not an ounce of humidity to be found; a rarity for Bald Head Island at that time of year. The florals were exquisite, the design was breathtaking, and Meg was an absolute vision in white lace. William couldn’t keep a smile off his face, from the first look to their departure that night on a Rolls Royce golf cart.

Meg, you know I love you like the sister I never had, and to be both your photographer as well as to stand up with you at the ceremony as a bridesmaid was an honor that I’ll treasure forever. You’re a WIFE now, Megs! Of all the roles you’ve ever had in life so far, this one will be the greatest adventure. William, I’m so grateful you and Meg found each other! She is at her best when she’s with you, and to know that you’ll be by her side for the rest of your lives is just the best. She’s crazy about you, you’re crazy about her, and the world is better with you together.

*A huge, huge thank you to Sarah Goodwin for second shooting, allowing me to be both photographer and bridesmaid! I couldn’t have done this without you, girl! You’ll see several of her images sprinkled throughout*

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Meg, you are absolutely radiant.

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Sarah took over for the ceremony and I’m so grateful for it!

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Favorite bridal party photo ever. No exaggeration.

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

Meg & William’s favor was a custom-blend of Woodford Reserve bourbon- their families spent a day tasting various bourbons at the distillery and chose their two favorites to be blended into one in honor of the new union.

Preppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace PhotographyPreppy seaside wedding on Bald Head Island- Abby Grace Photography

The incredible team of vendors that came together to make this day possible-

Photography: Abby Grace Photography
Second photographer: Sarah Goodwin Photography
Ceremony: Old Baldy Lighthouse, Bald Head Island
Reception: Bald Head Island Club
Design & Coordination: Kickstand Events
Bride + MOH bouquet: our grandmother, Mimi!
All other floral design: Kickstand Events
Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Shoes: Kate Spade
Bridesmaids: JCrew
Cake: One Belle Bakery
Live band: The Business

[…] think Nicole looks familiar, you’re right! She was a bridesmaid in William & Meg’s wedding in May, and now it’s these two’s […]

Rici - July 24, 2014 - 3:10 am

Love your smile Abby! in the first bridesmaids picture ;)

Emilia Jane - July 22, 2014 - 7:30 pm

That bridal party portrait is PERFECTION! <3

Dad - July 22, 2014 - 6:54 pm

My daughter is so talented and my niece is so beautiful. What a great combination!!!

PAULA ANDERSON - July 22, 2014 - 12:48 pm

Just wonderful. Pretty, heartwarming!!

Sarah Goodwin - July 22, 2014 - 12:47 pm

ABBY! You did such an stunning job with this wedding AND being a bridesmaid. *High five* girl, because you rocked it out. Doing double duty is not for the faint of heart :) It was such a pleasure to spend the weekend with you and the family, being able to help you out so you could do your bridesmaid duties and enjoy it! xo

Lauren Swann - July 22, 2014 - 12:37 pm

These are gorgeous Abby!!!