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Lessons Learned: Don’t forget about the groom!

This is something I’ve been grappling with over the past year or so, so bear with me :). I think we’ve all observed that wedding blogs these days put an obvious focus on the bride over the groom- how much time is spent poring over a bride’s details? how many styled shoots have we seen with a bride + wedding details, but no groom in sight? how many posts have we seen on picking the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, the perfect shade of lipstick? And it seems almost natural that this happens, seeing as how much more effort usually goes into planning the bride’s attire, accessories and details than the groom’s. But because a wedding day is about a union, a commitment to love for better or for worse, because a wedding day is about two people becoming one, and because my WHY for my business is to allow my couples to feel redeemed through intimate, organic portraiture, it’s become increasingly apparent to me that my method of posing and the motivation behind it needed to change.

In taking a look back through some of my older sessions, I’m constantly reminded of how “bride-centric” the majority of the images are; photos focused on the bride with the groom in the background, photos with the bride front and center and the groom gazing off into the distance, etc. etc. These sort of photos are fine, in and of themselves, but when it’s all an entire e-session is comprised of? I think it can start to come across as me telling my grooms that they don’t matter as much as their bride, which is clearly NOT true.

I was missing the point. I was failing to capture the excitement, the sheer joy taking place between a bride and groom, and was instead focusing only on the bride- the bride’s beauty, the bride’s dress, the bride’s accessories. And while it may be natural to photograph the bride more because, simply put, she has more “things” to photograph, I find myself cringing when I look through my old work and struggle to find images that also focus on the groom. It was as though I was really just photographing a bride with a groom in attendance as her prop. And how ridiculous does that sound? But that’s how I did it for the longest time, both in my wedding images and during my engagement sessions.

During the June WTAW that I attended, Justin & Mary talked quite extensively on aligning your shooting style to fit with your WHY . And it really stuck with me- I started to question how I was posing my clients, and whether or not it really fit into my vision for my business at all. I was taking my cues from other photographers and the poses I saw on their websites, which is sometimes fine to begin with, but if I’m taking what someone else has done and simply copy + pasting without tailoring it to my vision and my couples? Well, no wonder I wasn’t achieving intimate, organic portraiture. I was achieving stagnant, contrived images.

One of my biggest sources of inspiration in the way I WANT to pose my couples comes from how my husband loves and adores me- his love is redeeming, authentic, and completely organic. So if this is something I want reflected in my images, doesn’t it make sense to photograph my brides and grooms together, in poses that evoke emotion and positively ooze with adoration? I still love the occasional image that intentionally draws your eye to one person in particular, but I’m finding more and more that my favorite images are one that place just as much of an emphasis on the groom as they do the bride.

It’s required a bit of change, this shift in posing mentality. It’s changed the way I think, the way I position myself in relation to my couples, even the way I interact with my brides and grooms. I have a long way to go before I feel like I’ve mastered it, but even just realizing there was a NEED for change has been an enormous step for me. One of the things I love MOST about Justin & Mary is that they’re a team, and their relationship is so clearly reflected in their images- their portraits are always balanced, brides and grooms as a pair. Two parts of one whole, each as important as the other. We all love photos of a beautiful bride, but what I love even more is a bride who’s made exponentially more beautiful because of the way she’s loving and being loved by her groom.

Happy Wednesday!

JeanKovaleski - September 20, 2012 - 1:40 pm

Beautiful ,the couple,the wedding,the photography

Raja Puri - September 20, 2012 - 1:40 pm

This is a beautiful picture of you two! Congratulations and may God bless you with all the happiness in the world!

Rici - September 20, 2012 - 4:46 am

You write true words! Thank you for reminding me to think about my approach and style and my WHY! Thank you!!! Your selected images of union above are really beautiful! ~ Saluti.

Karen Field - September 19, 2012 - 10:55 pm

I love the way you took us through your thought process on this. I think your perspective is totally going to change the way you think about how to pose your couples. Grooms don’t seem as concerned about being in the photos as much as the bride is concerned about them, at least that’s what I’ve picked up. They’ve all been told, “it’s all about Her Day and you just show up on time with the ring.” It’s about time that this was evened up. And not just for the wedding day. There are brides who are all about the Day being about them and that is not a good precedent for marriage. For a marriage to succeed it takes each of them to work hard at loving each other and sticking up for each other. “Begin as you plan to go on,” is a phrase I’ve often heard used, though too little in recent years. I applaud you for being willing to grow and share about how you are growing and why. You set a good example for all of us in that way. If you want to have tea sometime and kick around ideas or just use me as a sounding board, you know I’m here. Mom

Annetta - September 19, 2012 - 6:20 pm

Thanks for the reminder, Abby. I will keep this in mind when I shoot a wedding in two weeks.

molly - September 19, 2012 - 10:52 am

PREACH! girl! that is why i was so adamant about having a second shooter so i could get those shots of my groom <3

Karin - September 19, 2012 - 10:14 am

It’s about a complete package! And I love seeing more shots like the ones above. It captures the whole love story. :) Great job Abby!

Lauren @ Every Last Detail - September 19, 2012 - 10:10 am

Yes yes yes love this! The best images, in my opinion, are always the ones that have the bride AND groom together… there’s something so pure and beautiful about it! :)

Rebekah Hoyt - September 19, 2012 - 10:01 am

You are SO right, and this is something I really need to be reminded, too! One of my favorite images from my wedding day is a shot of Matt by himself! It sits in a little frame right next to my computer and I look at it every day. The groom is just as much a part of the story as the bride!

Abby Johnson - September 19, 2012 - 9:58 am

I love this post. :) I think the bride’s glow comes from knowing she’ll spend the rest of her life being loved by her groom. It’s so awesome that you want to capture that in your photos!

Shauna - September 19, 2012 - 9:55 am

I’ve felt this way for a long time too. I always tell my couples, it not just about one person, it’s about the two of you. I look forward to watching your work evolve :)

Wendy {Weswen Design} - September 19, 2012 - 9:44 am

Great post. And yes, I feel the same way when perusing all the wedding blogs. The images above are so lovely because you get a sense of the joy and excitement between the TWO people…. loving the B&W especially with it being somewhat out of focus. They just look like they are having a blast!

Alli C - September 19, 2012 - 9:33 am

Love this post. It’s always “her big day” rather than “their big day.” And you are right, the pictures above are beautiful but they are even more so because of the love you can feel from the couple.

Bits and bobs on film

Ever since discovering that my Contax did, indeed, come with a shoulder strap, I’ve been making much more of an effort to involve at least a couple of rolls of film in my e-sessions and weddings. It’s taking training- sometimes I get so caught up in whatever I’m shooting that I forget to switch cameras, and other times I’m just too plain scared to break out the Contax for fear of looking like a fool. Something that HAS helped, though, is having my second shooter on hand to simply hold whichever camera I’m not shooting with, making switching back and forth much less of a hassle. I’m slowly training myself to intentionally pick up my film camera, because every time I go the “easy” route and leave the Contax out, I end up regretting it.

I was really, really encouraged with this latest batch of scans because I can see my images moving closer to what I imagine them being- my settings are more accurate, resulting in more desirable shots straight out of camera, instead of having to fiddle around in PhotoShop. Seeing that change definitely pushes me to want to get out and shoot MORE! Who knows? Maybe I’ll shoot my first all-film engagement session this fall!:)

A few from Gary & Clarisse’s wedding

Virginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographer

A few from Jay & Meagan’s e-session

Virginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographerAbsolute favorite.

Virginia film photographer

And a few from Brad & Lauren’s e-session

Virginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographerVirginia film photographer

I lied. This one is my absolute favorite.

Virginia film photographerVirginia film photographer

Whaddya think? Is it getting close to time to try out an all-film session? I think it might be:)

Happy Tuesday!

Megan Guernsey - September 19, 2012 - 10:30 am

LOVE the film shots! can’t wait to see ours :)

Brittany Claud - September 19, 2012 - 12:06 am

Abby! I love seeing your film work…it really inspires me to shoot with film again. I haven’t shot film since college and would love to get back into it some day and shoot color too!! And…you are totally ready to do an ALL film session!!

ashley link - September 18, 2012 - 7:21 pm

i feel like jose villa would be proud! these are phenomenal! keep going, girl! :)

molly - September 18, 2012 - 4:43 pm

wow these film images are gorgeous. you are really so talented, abby! (also, i’m going to be honest and say that when i first saw the title of this post i thought it said bits & boobs and i was like WHOA, ABBY. WHAT?! and then i felt stupid)

Amelia Renee - September 18, 2012 - 1:33 pm

oh goodness. that’s it. I’ve got to get myself a film camera! such quality! wonderful job, abby!

Rici - September 18, 2012 - 12:06 pm

Oh Abby!! These are sooooooo stunning and beautiful and great and just awwww! I love them! I think you can totally rock an all on roll session!!!

~ Saluti.

jamie - September 18, 2012 - 11:27 am

Yes, it is time for an all film session!! These images are beautiful…love that you set your mind to learn something new and go after it.

Tara Peddicord - September 18, 2012 - 10:55 am

seriously. beautiful work! and I second everyone else’s comments so far, as well!

Spring - September 18, 2012 - 10:16 am

I think when I finally make it to your neck of the woods we should do a sunrise all film shoot :)

tina - September 18, 2012 - 9:57 am

oh my gosh abby, these photos are gorgeous! i cant believe its all FILM! yes yes yes – do an all film session for sure. you’ve got it down and they all look great :)

Anna K. - September 18, 2012 - 9:18 am

I am in love with these! So gorgeous!

Brittani - September 18, 2012 - 9:12 am

ABBY!! These are GORGEOUS!! Oh my gosh, those two e-sessions looked incredible and your film work is just stunning. Watch out Jose Villa!

Krista A. Jones - September 18, 2012 - 9:12 am

These are so stunning Abby! You’re so talented!

I have the same trouble shooting both film and digital at weddings but my husband loves film and is starting to help me capture both! Having a second with film makes such a big difference! We just got a Contax last week and we’re so excited about it – especially after seeing your images!

Kirstie Frydenlund - September 18, 2012 - 9:09 am

You need to 100% film 100% of the time!!

Brent - Live View Studios - September 18, 2012 - 9:09 am

Great work! Are you still using Richards?

Monday Mash-Up

I’m back! And I’m exhausted. I need a staycation to recover from my vacation. Matt and I had such a good time with our family in the Outer Banks, but there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed again. It’s amazing how much relaxing can wear you out!But we’re back home now, me with a sweet tan and Matt with some more freckles :).

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

  • Shucking crabs is dangerous. I have three battle wounds from an evening of cracking open claws, and then the scarred memories of painful lacerations full of Old Bay seasoning.
  • Never underestimate an excitable puppy’s ability to inflict unintentional wounds with their newly-cut nails. We picked up Lily from the outdoor kennel she’d been staying at for the week and she went NUTS when she saw us. The ensuing scratches were totally worth it, though- we were just stoked to have her back!
  • On another note, if you ever want to tire your dog out, take her to an outdoor kennel where they let the dogs run around on a farm all day. Lily’s barely moved from the couch since we brought her home.
  • That whole sentiment about cloudy days can be more dangerous than sunny days? Totally true. Because the one day I was sunburned? It was overcast.
  • We found a hornet’s nest being built on the under side of one of the deck chairs at the beach house, so Matt went to war with a can of wasp killer. I did the damsel-in-distress thing REALLY well.
  • Photographing children is hard (for me)- I’m used to shooting adults with longer attention spans. Photographing children who are under the age of three and have a fever? Yeah, forget about it. UNLESS, I discovered, you have a little secret weapon I call CANDY! Our two-year-old niece Evelyn was feeling yucky on our last day of vacation and whenever I asked her to smile for me, she started to cry. But then I broke out a piece of bright red taffy and the sobs immediately turned to smiles. WIN!
  • In poking around a Christmas store, we found tree ornaments of the cast of Jersey Shore. I wept for the future of America’s youth.

A few snapshots from our beach vacation!

Matt loves mini golf. I do not, because I’m terrible at it. However, by some stroke of luck, I managed to beat him on Saturday! I think he was just having an off-day, but I’ll take it.

Before an offer of taffy… AFTER!

Happy Monday!

Karen Field - September 17, 2012 - 10:10 pm

Terrific picts of the vacation!

Matt - September 17, 2012 - 8:14 pm

I was the one that pointed out the Jersey Shore ornaments and you beat me fair and square in Mini-Golf. I love the pictures of Evelyn, I think they capture her very well!

admin - September 17, 2012 - 8:13 pm

I was the one that pointed out the Jersey Shore ornaments and you beat me fair and square in Mini-Golf. I love the pictures of Evelyn, I think they capture her very well!

Rebekah - September 17, 2012 - 7:40 pm

Ahh, the Jersey Shore ornaments. That is so disturbing.

Tori Watson - September 17, 2012 - 10:40 am

bribing children with candy and secretly loving jersey shore ornaments….sounds like a great vacation to me! ;) haha

Alicia - September 17, 2012 - 9:47 am

Those ornaments are crazy!! Your niece is beautiful! I love the pouty picture too:)

Wendy {Weswen Design} - September 17, 2012 - 9:31 am

Those crabs look DELISH! And those ornaments make me shake my head. Hahah. Looks like you had a great time!

Beach lovin and livin

This. This is why I love him. Because, despite his dislike of having his photo taken, he’ll traipse down to the beach with me in the evening to stand in front of a camera, holding a remote, taking photos of the two of us. Kissing. In front of other people. So that we can remember how it felt to be young and in love, away from work and free from worry.

Thank you, Matt. You’ll never know how much I treasure these.

Outer Banks photographerOuter Banks photographer

Happy Friday!

Annamarie - September 18, 2012 - 8:36 am

oh I love these! You two make a beautiful couple…you guys are super good at self portraits! Glad you had a fun trip!

Megan Guernsey - September 17, 2012 - 9:55 pm

these are amazing!! you guys are so photogenic :)

Karen Field - September 16, 2012 - 12:06 am

So beautiful! I love these photos. The one of Matt alone is the best I’ve seen of him! I want copies! Mom

amanda apple - September 15, 2012 - 10:09 am


Lauren - September 14, 2012 - 2:29 pm

Love these… hope there is more to come! :)

Kelly - September 14, 2012 - 1:03 pm

These are gorgeous Abby! Lighting is amazing…illuminating!

Sarah B. - September 14, 2012 - 1:01 pm


Serena Severtson - September 14, 2012 - 12:37 pm

Awww – you two are super sweet! Hope you both enjoyed your time at the beach! :)

molly - September 14, 2012 - 11:53 am

oh my gosh these are so sweet <3

Lindsey - September 14, 2012 - 10:51 am

Gorgeous couple :) I can feel the love!

Rebekah Hoyt - September 14, 2012 - 9:29 am

Oh wow, these are gorgeous. That first one looks so romantic and so natural! You are the queen of selfies, my friend! I can’t take self-portraits like this to save my life!!

Katie Wallis - September 14, 2012 - 9:15 am

These pictures are adorable :) hope you enjoy relaxing together!

Hannah Rancourt - September 14, 2012 - 9:07 am

LOVE! You two are adorable together!

Theresa - September 14, 2012 - 9:06 am

Love it! Great pics, guys!

Gabby Tuesday- elementary film equipment

Yes, I realize it’s Wednesday. I recorded this week’s Gabby Tuesday post last week and didn’t realize until Sunday that Tuesday was September 11th, and I wanted to hold off until the 12th.:)Sorry for any confusion!

This week’s video blog is all about my film gear! Mind you, that list of gear is pretty limited as I’m still learning to get comfortable with film, but there you go.

  • I recorded this video blog four times before I was satisfied with it- the first time, it was seven minutes long. The second time, it was still too long and Lily was laying on the floor next to my tripod so you could hear steady, heavy breathing in the background, and I decided that was creepy if you didn’t know I have a dog.
  • Also, how RAD are these red skinny jeans? Target! Wooo. Their sizing is totally wack, but if you can get over that small detail, life is good.
  • In case y’all were wondering, the intro/extro (extro?) song I use is called “Daftpunk Is Playing At My House” by LCD Soundsystem. You should go listen to it right away. After you watch this video blog.

As always, drop questions/comments/concerns in the comments section!



Happy Wednesday!

Justin - September 12, 2012 - 2:10 pm

Great post! I love film! And also I love the strap on your 35mm Film Camera. Is that a dreamer strap I see? Awesome. Oh and being musical, I must correct your extro for a replacement of the word “outro”

ali w - September 12, 2012 - 11:01 am

i think the biggest thing I fear is how to load it! I got the 35 mm down, but i have a holga at home that I have no idea if it is loaded right. I don’t want to ruin the film, but I’m clueless as to how that little guy works :) thanks for the post girl!

Stephen - September 12, 2012 - 10:28 am

Elementary my dear Gracie!

Hannah Rancourt - September 12, 2012 - 10:22 am

You are the cutest and I LOVE your pants!!!! You make film sound so tempting to try. I don’t need any more expensive hobbies so I am going to enjoy watching you learn instead!:-)