While everyone else buzzed excitedly around the room, Jill was remarkably calm. Flashing that gorgeous smile of hers to everyone she spoke to, she was completely at peace that morning. She stepped into that stunning Pronovias frock she purchased in Portugal, slipped on those sapphire Kate Spade flats, opened a sweet gift from her groom, and then she was ready. They shared their first look at the National Portrait Gallery, two stories above the hustle and bustle of DC, amidst the chaos but *just* enough removed for a bit of privacy. Again, that sense of peaceful excitement reigned- these two were ready! And just a couple hours later, they stood facing one another under a striking, elegant huppah as they exchanged those precious wedding vows.

Mike & Jill, it was such an honor to spend the day capturing your love and your families’ joy! Your wedding day was exquisite from start to finish, and I’m so grateful you allowed me into your lives to document your start as husband and wife. Watching your families celebrate your new union reminded me exactly why I chose this career! Mazel tov to you both!

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The incredible vendor team!

Planning & design: Anne Kelley of ATrendy Wedding
Venue: National Museum of Women in the Arts
Florals: Toulies en Fleur
Dress: Pronovias, via Pronovias Boutique in Lisbon, Portugal
Shoes: Kate Spade
Hair & make-up: Alison Harper & Co.
Bridesmaids: Jim Hjelm
Groom: custom suit by Alton Lane
Catering: Occasions Caterers
Calligraphy: Just Write Studios
Cake: Kendall’s Cakes
Music: Millenium, Washington Talent

Happy Monday, friends! These last two days were a rare June weekend off, and it was amazing! During wedding season, Matt & I get really excited about any “spare” weekends, and with a quasi-rough week, I really needed the time away from my office. So we went to a movie at 10am on Saturday morning (heLLO $5.00 movie tickets!), spent the afternoon lazing around, and then headed to Taste of Reston Saturday evening. All in all, amazing. It’s a crazy novelty, getting to live like the normal Monday-Friday folks during the summer!

Aix-en-Provence wedding photographer- Abby Grace

Know what else is crazy? Getting to check off an item on my list of big goals- I’ll be back in France this summer from July 20-24! With an Anniversary Experience session in Paris and a shoot with a bridal designer in the works, I am SO excited to be heading back across the Atlantic. One of my newly-recognized dreams is to shoot more in the south of France as well, so who knows- I may take a day (or two) trip to Avignon or Normandy while I’m out there! I’m going to start stocking up on film NOW. (PS- if you want a daily dose of all things Parisian, make sure you’re following my 50 day series over on Insta!)

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

  • Being outgoing and bold can have its perks- while we were at Taste of Reston on Saturday, I walked past a guy I recognized as Jonathan Thorpe (a big-time commercial photographer and all around awesome artist). So I turned around, asked if he was indeed…himself, and he was! Matt & I ended up bumping into them again a bit later and Jonathan actually critiqued one of my studio ballerina portraits for me- IT WAS SO COOL!
  • I’m really hoping today’s not the day that Jonathan stumbles across my blog, because I sound like a teenager at a BSB concert ^right there^.
  • Know what’s good? French-pressed coffee. Know what’s not good? Paleo’s version of French-pressed coffee. Sorry, but almond milk just doesn’t go well with a cuppa joe.
  • I was in Manhattan a week and a half ago and decided to stop into B&H for a pack of film for my anniversary session that night. While I was there, I started remembering all the little notions I needed for business back in the office- a new card reader, a hand strap for my second shooter, even more film, etc. I didn’t want to lug everything around the city with me all day, but I also didn’t want to have to pay for shipping by ordering it online because I was LITERALLY in the store where everything came from. So then someone at B&H clued me into the fact that buying in-store means you can send items back home with no shipping fee. Cue: photographer on a shopping spree in a camera store. It was… unexpectedly expensive.
  • But seriously, if you’re a photographer and you’ve never been to the B&H store in person, you HAVE to go! It’s magical!

And here’s another photo from France. Because I’m just so freaking excited that I’ll be back there in one month!

Paris, France fine art film photographer | Abby Grace

Oh, and HERE’s a preview from Rome! I’ll be blogging my Italy images later this week, so stay tuned!

Rome, Italy fine art film photographer | Abby Grace

  • Jean - Beautiful images! The one with flowers would be beautiful in my newly remodeled bathroom! So excited that you have another trip coming up. More excited to see you soon!ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - Oh gosh, if I went into the B&H store, my brain would probably be like, “Why yes Shalese, after 3+ years, you DO deserve that 85mm lens!” GAH!ReplyCancel

  • Sydni - Can’t believe you’re going back to France!! I’m LOVING your 50 days series :D Could you share a post sometime on how to financially/feasibly go to Europe so frequently??ReplyCancel

Posing used to be my BIGGEST fear going into an engagement session- I’d panic, then freeze, and then try to covertly check my phone for that Pinterest board I’d created as a guide. And the more nervous I became, the less trust I was instilling in my brides and grooms. Trust is SO big when it comes to something as intimate as photographing two people in love- if your clients can’t trust you to make them look their best, they’ll begin to second guess other areas of your professionalism as well. And no one wants that, right? Right! So posing has actually become one of my biggest strengths because of how much trust I earn during an engagement session! And that engagement session trust then leads to more comfortable and natural wedding day portraits. Win for everyone!

Posing tips for engagement sessions- Abby Grace Photography

Because of how crucial posing your clients is for that whole “amazing wedding photography experience” notion, I thought I’d share some of my top tips for rocking out an engagement session! Here we go:

1) Kiss… then smile! I think I learned this one from Katelyn- after every kiss, ask your couple to smile! It’s a natural reaction anyways, we’re just helping our couples remember what natural feels like. They’re going to be at least a little bit nervous, conscious of the fact that someone is watching their every move- that can often result in people forgetting what they do when the camera ISN’T there. So the kiss-and-smile (sort of like the bend and snap!) is just meant to elicit what’s already there, peeling back the mask of nerves that could otherwise prevent authentic interaction.

Posing tips for engagement sessions- Abby Grace Photography

2) Fingers gently closed. When I ask a bride to place her hand on the back of her groom’s tricep, sometimes she’ll do so with her fingers spread apart. For some reason, no matter how tiny she may be, if her fingers are spread they end up coming across on camera as though her little digits are swollen. To avoid the catcher’s-mitt look, I ask my clients to gently close their fingers.

Posing tips for engagement sessions- Abby Grace Photography

3) Walking- lots of walking! I sometimes worry that I overuse the “talk a walk while holding hands” pose, but there’s so much variety within that one little command! You can ask your couple to loop their arms around one another, to look at each other, to look at you, to walk away from you, to walk PAST you, etc. And by switching lenses and varying where you’re standing, you can introduce even more variety! Plus, come wedding day, there’s even MORE you can do when you have a big tulle skirt and a bouquet. Little adjustments, lots of portrait possibilities! See?

Posing tips for engagement sessions- Abby Grace Photography

4) For the bride: Ankles together, or one ankle hooked back behind the other. I do this allllll the time with my brides, especially if she’s in a dress! There’s something just a little bit more flirty with one foot tucked behind the other.

Posing tips for engagement sessions- Abby Grace Photography

5) For the groom: “relax your stance, weight on your back leg.” Maybe it’s because whenever I see Matt standing like that, I’m like “OH HEY, HOT STUFF.” But it’s also a pose you’ll everywhere from JCrew catalogues to an ad in Cigar Aficionado. It’s just a comfortable, natural way for guys to stand that also happens to look great! (see above)

6) Want them to laugh? Laugh with them! It’s the concept of emotional contagion (the unconscious tendency to feel and express emotions similar to and influenced by those of others [thank you Dictionary.com]). If you want your couple more quiet and subdued, your tone of voice needs to indicate that sort of feel. If you want them excited and giddy, you need to help them get there! When I want my couples to laugh, I physically laugh from behind my camera.

Posing tips for engagement sessions- Abby Grace Photography

Was this helpful? Want to learn more? There are still a few spots open for the August date of A Practical Wedding Workshop- we’ll be going over bride & groom portraits in way more depth where I’ll share all my posing secrets, tricks and tips! And you’ll have a full styled shoot to demonstrate and practice what you’ve learned! Find more info here.

This day was a long time coming. They’d just celebrated their 8th dating anniversary last month- together since high school, having weathered the ups and downs of attending colleges several states apart and the inevitable strife that comes with growing into one’s own. But they grew together, which made the process that much easier. Rather than two people growing completely separately, Nick & Nicole managed to grow autonomously while still moving toward one another. In today’s crazy fast-paced world, that’s what I’d call the beginnings of an incredible legacy.

After meeting Nicole as a fellow bridesmaids for William & Meg’s Bald Head Island wedding last year, and knowing Nick already had a ring, I was SO excited when I got the email from Nicole! I kew this was going to be one of my favorite days all year!

And as expected, their wedding day was sweet, so sweet. The years of anticipation, of planning and waiting, it all came together in one perfectly lovely wedding day. She was all smiles all day, with a hint of a joyful tear here and there. And he was completely smitten with her- from the way he took her hand to the longest kiss at the end of a first dance that I’ve ever witnessed. Slipping outside for portraits at sunset, she exclaimed about how this day was finally here, and all she wanted to do was soak it in!

Nick & Nicole, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to have been the one chosen to document this stage of your legacy together! Thank you so very, very much. I loved every minute of it, and I hope you’re basking in the full glory of an Antigua beach right now!

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Annapolis, MD wedding | London Town Inn & Gardens | Abby Grace Photography

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Details coming soon!

 

  • Jean - Gorgeous dress, beautiful bride. Just a beautiful album of a very special day for these two! So lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Abbeigh - Literally just ooh-ed and aah-ed over this entire post! Her dress, the bridesmaid dresses, the location, the details! Love it all!! You captured it perfectly!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - Ahhh, I just LOVE the back of her dress!! Lace perfection! Stunning wedding, Abby, you knocked it out of the park!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - You knocked this wedding out of the park!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - Abbyyy!! These are such a beautiful and perfect representation of us and our wedding! We are so lucky to have met you and that you shared our day with us and captured it so beautifully for us to cherish forever <3ReplyCancel

  • Diana Parker - The most beautiful wedding ever.ReplyCancel

These two. If you’ve been hanging around the Abby Grace water cooler for any extended period of time, you’ll remember them- Shawn & Ashley were actually my first engagement session EVER! Ashley was one of my roommates during senior year at Radford, and having the opportunity to watch her and Shawn’s relationship as it takes on each new stage of life has been such a joy. I was there (alongside 100+ of my CRU friends) when Shawn asked for Ashley’s hand, Matt & I witnessed them exchange vows on a beautiful June day in 2010, and since marrying, I’ve had the honor of photographing their love story as it grows!

From this anniversary session to this one, to little miss Emerson’s debut in the world, it’s an inexpressible joy to literally watch their story progress before my eyes. And they’ve been there since day 1 of Abby Grace Photography, from the time that it was a mere Facebook business page- they’ve watched me, they’ve seen my work grow up before their very eyes. It feels like Shawn & Ashley were the FIRST poster couple for AGP, and the fact that they keep coming back (because let’s be honest, that first engagement session was NOT my best work) speaks volumes to me. They started as two, then became three, and are now on their way to becoming four! Little miss Emerson joined us for a few images, too, and guys. She’s a treasure.

Shawn, Ashley, Emerson, and soon-to-be-Luda #4, I am so grateful for you all. As you continue to expand your family, Shawn & Ashley, it never ceases to inspire me how much deeper in love you fall with one another. I’m so grateful that you both are so intentional about investing in your marriage, and I am SO excited to meet your new little miss or mister in September!

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  • Kaitlyn Phipps - I’m so in love with these. These are so real and I love how you captured their little family.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - What a beautiful family. I know they will cherish these wonderful photos.ReplyCancel