Tag Archives: Contax 645

They’ve been together for ages; since the beginning of the UK’s equivalent to high school, so going on 15 years now. After 10 years together they tied the knot, and just a few years into marriage, they made the decision to up and relocate from London, England to the West Village in Manhattan. Why? I asked. “Why not?” If ever they could do it, that was the time, and they wanted to shake things up- Paul & Suzanna felt they were getting too settled into the every day ins and outs, and they wanted an adventure. So they moved to the busiest city in the US. I’d say that qualifies as an adventure, wouldn’t you?

It’s been five years since their wedding day, and after a couple of years in New York City, Paul decided it was time to celebrate this particular stage of their lives. Exactly where and how they are now, so that one day they can look back and reminisce about the gorgeous slice of Manhattan that they called home for a while.

Paul, Suzanna, I cannot conceive a better way to have spent an evening in New York than by exploring with you all, documenting your sweet relationship, and gabbing over prosecco. It was such a joy to see that after all these years together, your spark is still so present! Thank you, endless thank you’s, for allowing me into your world for the day. It was a privilege!

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West Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace Photography

West Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace PhotographyWest Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace PhotographyWest Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace PhotographyWest Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace Photography

 

Matt prepared a travel journal for me for my most recent trip overseas; along with a love letter for every day I was gone, he also gave me a thoughtfully-planned writing prompt for each day. He knew I love capturing my travels in photographs, but he also knows how much I love to write. And one of my favorite writing prompts from the trip was “Describe Rome in one word.” Without hesitation, I chose the word “layered.” Rome is layer upon layer of history- thousands and thousands of years of culture, politics, people, stories, everything, all crammed into what ended up feeling like a small town. It was unimaginably cooler than I was expecting!

My sweet host, Heather, was incredible- she planned the perfect mix of relaxed experience and active wandering, and I couldn’t have enjoyed my time more! For example, after arriving home from being picked up at the airport, we went straight into making limoncello. By hand. With lemons from trees in Heather’s front yard. Words cannot describe my glee!

Without further ado, I present Rome, Italy for your viewing pleasure.

Rome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby GraceRome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby GraceRome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby GraceRome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby GraceRome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby Grace

My gorgeous host, Heather!

Rome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby Grace

Rome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby Grace

Rome, Italy | fine art film photographer | Abby Grace

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For all those of you who’ve asked about a print shop, stay tuned! More information on fine art print sales SOON!

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

I’d taken the plunge in June of 2012 and bought the mother of all medium format film cameras, the Contax 645. I knew I loved film and 35mm just wasn’t enough for me anymore, so I took a chance and purchased the Contax- I’d promised Matt if things didn’t pan out and I never used it professionally, I’d just resell it on eBay (that’s another story for another day, though).

So I started shooting with this new film camera. At first, everything was going alright- I was getting more and more comfortable with my settings, my results were becoming more consistent, and I was gradually becoming less afraid of, in general, mucking up my film. But then some sort of switch got flipped- I think  I’d spent too much time reading Jose Villa‘s book Fine Art Wedding Photography, or maybe it was too many hours poring over Elizabeth Messina‘s The Luminous Portrait. Whatever it was, I stopped looking through my viewfinder with the question “how should frame/compose/photograph this?” and started filtering everything through “how would Jose or Elizabeth photograph this?”

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

To someone who’s not a photographer, I know that may seem like a silly thing to get worked up about. But it was causing serious stress in my film work, esPECIALLY when I was trying to shoot with film & digital in one session- it was like having a split personality, trying to switch back and forth between Abby Grace mode and Jose/Elizabeth mode. It was really, really hard, and to be honest, I was pretty bad at it.

Why? Because I will only ever be ME. No matter how hard I try, I will never be as good of a Jose or an Elizabeth as those two are, and that’s what makes their work beautiful- they are the only ones who can produce that particular kind of art. The way Jose sees the world through his viewfinder is uniquely HIM, and with my 2012 film mindset, the best I could ever hope to do is spend a lot of time copying that artistry without ever actually creating something uniquely ME.

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

It wasn’t until I quasi-stopped shooting with film, and then had a conversation with my friend Christina (about ceasing film work) that things finally shifted. I told her about my split personality issue when it came to my Contax, and that I’d pretty much stopped shooting because things were too hard, and she told me this:

“STOP COMPARING. Your work is YOUR work and it is beautiful. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing so many Villa/Messina imitations. I thought I wanted my film to be like theirs, then I shot it and found I prefer something else. So I am doing my own thing and hoping people love it. If you believe in your work, others will too. [There were] YEARS of self-doubt that I had to change into self-APPRECIATION.”

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

So I stopped comparing. I stopped looking at what other people were doing, and I started shooting film the way I, Abby Grace, would naturally shoot. And you know what? It’s only made me better. My film and my work in general has only grown since I stopped trying to be a cheap imitation of someone else, and embraced what MY art looks like as a standalone product rather than in comparison to someone else’s. I’m proud of the work I produce, and though I know there’s still so much growth that will continue to happen over the course of my life, it feels really good to be able to say “This is who I am, this is my art. And if you love it? Amazing! But if you don’t? That’s 100% fine with me, too.”

Here’s to YOU looking through your viewfinder with only your artistic voice in the background- you have something unique to offer, don’t water it down by trying to imitate someone else. I’m proof that doing so will only hold you back, and that breaking that bad habit only leads to GOOD things.

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So I had actually intended to blog my most recent Paris images this morning. I even told a couple of people “Hey! Look for Paris on the blog tomorrow!” But then I had another idea! You all know how beholden Paris is to me, and therefore how precious my film from my time in the city is. And there’s always this sort of “womp womp” moment whenever I blog scans from the city of light, because in my head I’ve built it up to be this incredible experience, but in the end all it ever gets is a single day to showcase on my blog.

This time, instead of posting all of my Paris images at once, I’ll be posting one a day for the next 50 days over on Instagram! I’d love to have you follow along with the hashtag #50daysinParis! I know it’s different than the usual, but I think different is good in this case!

Ok, so now let’s talk about Scotland. Edinburgh was so much fun- I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, which made taking everything in easier. There weren’t any pre-inclined notions about how things should have been, you know? The city of Edinburgh definitely felt tourist-heavy, so the next time I’m in Scotland I’ll think I’ll go further out. I really want to see the highlands, the moors, the lochs and countryside. But for a first introduction to the country, it was amazing! And I just happened to be there during the spring peak of flowers all over the city, which made getting lost that much more enjoyable. I really liked the quirkiness of Edinburgh, and I have a feeling my introverted husband would LOVE it there.

Enjoy!

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One of the highlights of my entire adventure was visiting Elephant House, the cafe where JK Rowling began writing the Harry Potter series. Just being there, sitting in the same room with a pot of tea, it was incredible. I think I loved it because the cafe was so unassuming, so ordinary in terms of UK cafes, and yet something so huge was born out of the seemingly unremarkable.

Also, when you walk into the restroom at Elephant House? There’s Harry Potter-related graffiti from floor to ceiling (and on the ceiling itself), left by years and years of fans. Anything from “Thank you JK for influencing my childhood” to “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened- enemies of the heir, beware.” I could have stayed there all day reading the thousands of notes! But that would be weird. Because it was a bathroom.

Edinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby Grace

Rumor has it that JK Rowling strolled through this graveyard for naming ideas, and that the gravestone on the right is what inspired Tom Riddle’s name!

Edinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby Grace

These were too cool not to photograph. I didn’t think headstones ever actually looked like that in real life!

Edinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby Grace

The barista asked for my name, I told him “Voldemort,” and this was the result. SO MUCH WINNING!

Edinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby GraceEdinburgh, Scotland film + wedding photographer- Abby Grace

Photographing these together was everything I love about my job, all rolled into one session- a groom who’s utterly enchanted with his fiancée, a bride who fits so perfectly into her beloved’s arms. So much laughter, so much! And to top things off, a ballet-pink tulle skirt by Katherine Elizabeth Bridal, and a floral crown by Holly Chapple. Plus, when we arrived at our second location? There were horses in the field. I like to think that José Villa would be proud of us.

I could not love these two any more- they’re a delight to photograph, and an even greater pleasure to simply know! They’re just so easy together, the way he takes her hand, how she slips her arms around his waist. They’re hilarious together, and I can’t remember an afternoon where I’ve laughed so much while shooting. It just makes SENSE, them being together. Like Audrey Hepburn + Tiffany’s, or Dean Martin and that signature black tux.

Kevin, Arienne, I am so, so grateful for you two. Your engagement session felt more like a rendezvous with two old friends, and if things were this amazing during round 1, I absolutely cannot WAIT for your wedding day! SO much love to you both, I can’t wait for October!

Tulle skirt: Katherine Elizabeth Bridal
Floral crown: Holly Chapple
Hair + make-up: Alison Harper & Co
Mint maxi dress: Donna Morgan

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