I know you’re probably thinking: a) NO DUH. And 2) it’s about dang time!

It’s been almost two years since we’ve made any tweaks to my blog, and for the entire nearly-4 year existence of this blog, it’s been the same basic layout. Different colors and fonts, headers and bio pages, but same functionality. And it’s worked really well for me! The blog audience has grown and grown, and I can’t believe the number of people who read my little slice of the internet every day.

But something I’ve learned is that just because something “works well enough,” that doesn’t mean it’s really working FOR me. My blog layout, while familiar and comfortable, wasn’t a perfect match for the sleek, joyful, sophisticated feel I’ve come to associate with my work and brand. I’ve come to a point in my career where “good enough” is no longer enough- it needs to be GREAT.

Fortunately for me, I have the world’s most amazing designer. I got linked up with Jeff of J. Shipley Creative after my mini identity crisis in December 2012 and realized my then-current web presence was no longer a fit for the business I wanted to curate. We scheduled a Skype date (can you believe that was 2 years ago, Jeff??), and after clicking “end” on the call, I knew I was in good hands. (Psst- that’s Jeff!)

J Shipley Creative

I was scared by the idea of spending more on my website, a mere 6 months after forking over more than $3,000 for a full branding and web overhaul with my previous designer (who did a great job!). But I knew Jeff got me, and I knew he was going to be able to pull who I am and what I represent, and put it into a visual representation for my online presence.

Since our first go-round of website revisions, I’ve continued to come back to Jeff over and over. And bless him, he is so patient with me! He’s always willing to chew over what I’m saying I want, but the thing I love most about Jeff? That he’s not afraid to tell me when I’m being…well… kind of stupid. I’d emailed him during a freak out I was having last spring when I felt like my website had been copied by another creative, and so I’d sent him a list of things I wanted to change to be BETTER than that other creative’s website. And here’s what he said-

“If I may, I’d like to invite you to take a deep breath. 🙂 It’s all good. As tempting as it is to feel the pressure to change things when someone does something similar, I think it’s okay, expected and not necessarily a bad thing…. But I’d encourage that we make those changes from a place of making it fit your more and to evolve alongside you, rather than a reaction to what someone else is doing.” 

(This was my first ever blog design!)


Can I get an amen? That is so, so on point! Having the mindset of “how can I do what’s best for my business, best for my client?” is ALWAYS going to yield more fruit than simply asking “how can I be better than THAT person/group?” The first question comes from a place of outward-focus, whereas the second question is all self-centeredness and conceit, at least in my case

I was trying to WIN the photography game, but there is no winning it. Because it’s not a game. These are peoples lives, this is MY life, and I love that my designer gently points me back to the questions that actually matter.

Jeff, you are so dang awesome. I know it probably gets repetitive, me telling you how amazing you are, but I hope you know I genuinely mean it. Not in a “using-the-world-‘literally’-in-a-figurative-sense” kind of way, but in a “you-really-are-the-best-designer-I’ve-ever-had-the-honor-of-meeting” way. I’m so grateful for you, for your raw talent, but more importantly, for your ability to ask the hard questions of me. And for not just letting me take the easy way out.

(And this was the second iteration of my blog from sumer of 2012!)


I hope y’all enjoy the new site layout- feel free to poke around- I would love to know your favorite part! And if you’re feeling like your blog could use some sprucing up, definitely check out the Tonic Site Shop (a collaborative genius by my designer Jeff and the gorgeous Jen Olmstead!)- my blog is a modified version of the Southside layout, and I’m completely in love with it!

Totally new blog layout and design!

February 19, 2015

  1. Alicia Lacey says:

    Yay, I love it Abby!!! I chose Southside too and love how much you can change it around to be YOU!

  2. Jean says:

    Always good to change things up a bit, especially when you have someone awesome helping you out. Great new design!

  3. Kat says:

    AH! I love it, girl!!!

  4. Shalese says:

    Remember when we talked about how I found you and how long I’d been reading your blog? Since the Abby-on-the-slide days!!!! Seeing that blog took me right back to sitting in my college apartment reading your blog when I was supposed to be reading Shakespeare. 🙂

  5. Lindsay says:

    Abby I love it!!! My favorite part is the category archives for your weddings, engagements and anniversaries! Such a perfect way to display your galleries! Also I love your cleaned up “about” section- it’s SO you- classy and fabulous!

  6. Abby, Abby, Abby, oh my GOODNESS!! This is amazing and I love it so much! I especially love the background – it fits your DC style so well and it is so “Abby Grace”!! I love this!! 🙂 Very CLASSY!!!

  7. Elizabeth V says:

    You know what is cool? Today is our fourth wedding anniversary… it is SO exciting to see how far you have come over the past 4 years! I remember that FIRST website! This one looks awesome, though, and I am so excited for you 🙂

  8. Rici OMG says:

    OH my Gosh!!! YAY!!! A new outfit for your blog!! So lovely! Is this Sarah`s picture of you on the left column? <3
    Many cheering you on greetings!!!

  9. Sydni says:

    Very lovely! I remember all of your previous blogs! Wow, can’t believe I’ve been following you that long – that’s fun 🙂 I kind of miss the key because it was such a great little signature, but I like how grown-up your blog is now too 🙂

  10. Sydni says:

    PS – I meant to also say that I love how honest you are! We can all relate to wanting to operate out of pride/jealousy rather than pure motives, and I love that you are open to sharing those thoughts on your blog. Thanks for being real!

  11. Jen Olmstead says:

    I just love seeing Jeff so well appreciated! He DOES give some great advice, and is a fantastic source of sanity. 😉 This update is such a perfect next step for your presence. I love how it turned out!

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