Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Washington DC Wedding Photographer, Gronde Photography, Wins 2015 Two Bright Lights Editors' Choice Award



Thanks to our phenomenal clients and our commitment to producing exceptional wedding photography, we are honored to announce that we have been selected as a winner of the 2015 Two Bright Lights Editors’ Choice Award!

The 2015 Two Bright Lights Editors' Choice Awards is a signature program that recognizes photographers and vendors within the Two Bright Lights community whose number of published features in 2014 placed them among the top 5% of all Two Bright Lights members. Winners were published across many of the most respected lifestyle, wedding and other print and digital publications in the United States and worldwide.

The 2015 honorees reflect those that have demonstrated a superior quality of work for their clients, and those that had their authentic, stunning imagery, and services published directly to the top industry print magazines and online publications.

Among thousands of photographers and vendors competing for publication, the Editors' Choice winners represent the best-of-the-best.

It is a great distinction to be recognized alongside this group of talented photographers and creative professionals. Over the past year, our features have given us the opportunity to increase exposure of our work and it is exciting to receive this award in recognition of our efforts.

In 2014, we had the privilege of having the following events published:

Marissa & Marco's Wedding
Melissa & Michael's Wedding (Published in Beauty & Lifestyle Bride Magazine)
Fashion & David's Engagement
Traci & Colin's Wedding
Melissa & Michael's Wedding

We pray 2015 offers even more opportunity for publication!  Thanks again to all of the other creative professionals and clients who made these features possible!

To see more of our work, or to get in touch about our services, please visit www.GrondePhotography.com.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Washington DC Wedding Favorites - Part II

Today, we continue our favorite shots from 2014!  Seriously, how much did you enjoy our last post? Some AMAZING images, right?  Let's continue, than, shall we?  :-)

Most Touching Image


This is Lauren and her Dad, Tim "Mr. Incredible" Christensen.  We didn't meet him until the morning of the wedding, but we have never met a Father of the Bride who was more involved with making sure every single detail of his daughter's day was absolutely perfect.  When Chris was shooting the groomsmen getting ready, he was studying what looked like a play book, but it was the choreography to this dance with his daughter.  He wanted to make sure he remembered it, so that it was perfect. We could tell from the moment we met him that he was a great man!  We were beyond honored to capture these amazing moments and saddened beyond belief when we learned he passed away shortly after Lauren Bryce's wedding from a sudden heart attack at work.  We have heard people say that wedding photography is a silly expense when everyone has a camera or an iPhone.  Or to just have people take photos and post them to Facebook and that's "good enough".  As sad as we were, we felt so blessed to be the ones who were able to show these images to Lauren and her family and know that these images and the look on Tim's face as he danced with his daughter will live on forever in their heirloom album and the images on her wall.  

Most Beautiful Offbeat Wedding Dress


Robin  Maddy definitely had the most off beat wedding of our year and we loved every second of it! She had such an amazingly perfect vintage look, from her tea length wedding dress to her custom made glasses she made made to fit the theme and color of their day!  When you make a living shooting weddings, it's so refreshing to see something off the beaten path!

Funniest Moment


Sometimes you just have to break the little bit of awkwardness when you start to take photos and Carla was the best!  This is an outtake from their wedding (didn't quite make the cover of their album but totally should have!), where she wanted to break the ice a little bit and just make a funny face to loosen up.  What a fun couple they were!

Best Groom Reaction


We don't even have to explain this one.  Just look at it!  Look at his face!  Daniel was so much fun! And even though, we THINK, he was goofing around when this picture was taken, he really was completely out of breath with how Gorgeous Leah looked in her dress from Ellie's Bridal.  We always encourage our couples to have a First Look and this is one of the reasons why.  Would you see this reaction if here were at the front of the alter?  NOT A CHANCE!

Favorite Ring Shots


Brandy is the MASTER of the ring shot!  When she tells you she's taking your rings on a field trip, this is what she's doing!  Your ring is the STAR of your accessories and she always makes sure you have an amazing image to share with your girlfriends for years to come!  Rings and shoes?  HELLO, GORGEOUS! 

Favorite Shoe Shot


Everyone who knows us or has been to our home or our studio knows that we are huge Disney fans (it's all over our home), and if you ask Brandy, she'll tell you, "A Good Pair of Shoes can change your life".  So when the dress is on, makeup and hair are done, earrings are in, and garter is up and you finally put on the perfect shoe, you have a complete look!  Don't overlook your shoes because you think it will just be hidden under the dress (unless you wear Chuck Taylors, we are totally ok with you wearing colorful Chuck Taylors!).  Your shoes are an important part of your look and we will not overlook them either!

Best Stolen Moments


Being a wedding photographer is like conducting a good Jazz Band.  You direct, keep tempo, and make sure everyone is on the same page, but every so often your band just gets in an awesome groove and you just have to put your hands down and let them jam!  Some of our most romantic moments we capture have NOTHING to do with us, once we get our couples in a groove we just let them interact and catch these amazing stolen moments without any direction from us what-so-ever!

Best Twirl


If you were to bring Brandy with you to shop for your wedding dress (which if your maid of honor or mom can't make it with you and you honestly asked her she would TOTALLY go with you!), before she would let you make that final decision there would be one final test... "The Twirl Test".  If you have an amazing dress and it doesn't twirl the right way, it just isn't perfect enough.  So be sure to twirl during your dress shopping trips!  Marissa had an amazing mermaid style dress and an incredible heart felt first dance with her new husband Marco full of spins and twirls.  We happened to catch her dress at just the right moment to see this amazing twirl!  *swoon*  Good choice in wedding dress, Marissa!

The People's Choice Award (Fan Favorite)


We looked through the past year of sneak peeks that we posted to our social media pages, like FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and found the image that had the most likes.  Leah's amazing dip photo was the winner with 42 Facebook Likes!  Want to see your image here next year?  When we post your sneak peek, be sure to tag all of your family and friends and share as much as you can!  

That wraps up our 2014 favorites.  We cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store!  These are some incredible moments that we cannot wait to top in 2015.

XOXO, 
Chris and Brandy

Monday, January 26, 2015

Washington DC Wedding Favorites - Part I


We are absolutely LOVING engagement season and meeting so many new couples who are starting the greatest journey of their lives!  Congratulations to all our 2015 and 2016 couples and everyone who might be reading this that haven't contacted us yet but recently got engaged!  With as excited as we are, for this upcoming wedding season, we are still having withdrawals for our incredible year last year.  We decided it was time to go through and pick a few of our favorite moments, images, and wedding details from 2014 wedding season.  Every image we take has a story that goes with it, here are just a few of them!

Favorite View/Background


This category is a tie between Marissa & Marco's Wedding at the George Washington Masonic Memorial and Ashley & Greg's wedding.  You could also call this category "Yay, we actually got fluffy white clouds!"  The sky is so much better when we have clouds.  Not full of ugly grey clouds, but those big fluffy white clouds!  When the sky has NO clouds and is completely clear, it tends to give really harsh light and ends up just looking white and blown out in photos, so there's nothing better than these clouds.  Plus, when you add such an iconic building such as the Memorial in Alexandria (which is designed to mimic the Lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt) or a beautiful country setting with a field of tall grass, it just doesn't get any better than that!


Favorite Cake


We saw some amazing cakes with some even more amazing cake toppers, but the thought that went into Allyson & Jonathan's cake (by Cake Panache)... well... it takes the cake!  (wow, that was a REALLY bad pun and completely unintended)  To really appreciate it you have to know that she is a biochemist who is working on her PhD... in her 20's... during her wedding planning!  Now let's describe this cake a little bit. What most people see is pillars that surround the entire cake, someone who was into chemistry or biology would notice it's one of the most beautiful shapes in science... the double helix!  Even greater than that is the top tier.  Most couples have a monogram or something of that nature adorning the top tier of their wedding cake.  That just simply wasn't enough for Allyson.  If you look closely you'll see something that looks like a chemical diagram.  Well, that's exactly what it is!  But not just any chemical diagram; it's the chemical diagram for Oxytocin, which has been called "The Love Chemical".  It's one of the chemicals in our brain that deals with attachment.  This is just the perfect cake for Allyson & Jonathan and we loved being able to photograph it!

Funniest Father/Daughter Dance


This gem comes from Allyson & Jonathan's wedding as well!  Funny father daughter dances became, kind of, a viral internet phenomenon during this time and when Allyson's wedding came along, her and her father (A retired Air Force Colonel) definitely delivered!  It was a montage of several songs of varying speeds and styles and they did everything from the Waltz to Disco.  The guests loved every second of it with cheering, laughter, and thunderous applause!  This is a moment that Allyson and her father will remember for the rest of their lives, and this style of dance is definitely a trend we hope continues into 2015 and beyond!  The bar has been set, ladies!

Favorite Dip


This category is another tie between Carla & Matthew's Wedding and Mallory & Ron's Wedding! Carla's dip kiss was taken underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Alexandria while Mallory's dip kiss was taken in the middle of main street outside the George Washington Hotel in small town Winchester, VA.  Both are absolutely breathtaking! 

Favorite Dress Shot


Fashion & David had one of the most memorable locations we've ever shot at in Maryland. Beaches, boats, sunsets, and flowers were key elements to every image and when we took Fashion's dress on a field trip we fell in love with this Pergola that was full of amazing colorful flowers!  It just looked like the perfect spot to hang a wedding dress.  Ladies, PLEASE allow us to take your dress on a field trip!  We promise, you will NOT be disappointed!  

Favorite Bridesmaids Dresses


We love the color of Mallory's bridesmaids dresses and love when a bride understands that sometimes a single dress just is not going to look the same on every single bridesmaid, so it's good to mix it up a little bit. They flowed well, moved well, and were amazing to photograph.  There were super fun girls to work with, too!

Favorite Exit


We are totally suckers for a good sparkler exit!  They never cease to deliver amazing images to end the night, and when we told Ashley & Greg to stop half way and give us one last kiss, man did they deliver! Wow! 

Favorite Flowers


These are the bouquets from Mallory's wedding and a boutonniere from Emma's wedding.  Mallory's flowers were from our favorite preferred vendor florist, Love Flowers Shenandoah (seriously, she's AMAZING to work with).  They are amazing and their attention to detail and friendly service are unmatched!  We love that they label their bouquet vases with little chalkboard labels.  Emma and Michael were teachers from the Mississippi Delta, so cotton seemed like the perfect added touch to their flowers.  In its raw form, it really is a beautiful little bloom.

Favorite Food


We shoot weddings all year long and have had a lot of chicken and beef wellington over the years (as well as cold turkey sandwiches), but when we saw Maddy & Robin had a Nacho bar in their buffet, we sang to the heavens with delight!  What's better to have at an amazing wedding than some real, feel good, comfort food!  It was oh so yummy!!  

Most Magical


Allyson & Jonathan were down for anything we threw at them that night, so when we said, "Hey, do you wanna go have some fun experimenting with the sparklers?".  We didn't realize that saying "experiment" to a Biochemistry PhD student was pretty much the "magic word"!  It only took a few shots before we had our cameras dialed in to the exact amount of long exposure that it would take to get some of the most amazingly magical sparkler images we've ever taken!  We just started jumping up and down with excitement, and had to show Allyson & Jonathan the image on the back of our camera right away because they were just too awesome!  This image now graces the cover of their heirloom album!  Seriously ladies, want amazing photos? Make sure we have the time to capture them!  

With that, we will end this post.  If you didn't see your wedding in this set, don't fret!  There's a part two!  Everything from favorite ring shot, to fan favorite will be covered.    We hope you've enjoyed our little trip down memory lane!

XOXO
Chris and Brandy

Friday, June 27, 2014

{Real Wedding} Leah and Dan Reily Wedding - Lansdowne Resort, Leesburg, VA

In the spirit of the World Cup, we would like to show you a sneak peek from Leah (that's Lay-uh, like the Princess, in case you were curious) and Dan's Wedding!  Their vintage, romantic wedding was an amazing joining of two families and multiple cultures.  Leah, being from the Netherlands, had family fly in from all over Europe which made for an amazing reception!  Talking with her family and her guests was definitely a fun experience!  Having the beautiful rolling hills as the backdrop at Lansdowne Resort hopefully made them feel a little more at home than the usual Washington, DC scene.  Leah and Daniel's personality and playfulness from beginning to end is really what made us love this wedding. (besides Leah's absolutely amazing dress!!) . From the moment Dan first saw Leah to our trip around the resort taking photos (to include a visit from a groundhog friend) to the last dance they just oozed love that was so much fun to capture!  Take a look!






Saturday, June 14, 2014

{Giveaway} Win 2 Free Tickets to "I Still Do" Marriage Conference by FamilyLife

Brandy and I are about to celebrate our 5 year anniversary this July and we are just so excited to be celebrating this milestone!  If you have known us long or have worked with us before, you already know that we don't just love weddings; we love weddings, but we love marriage even more!  We care about the marriages that we have been able to influence even the slightest bit by our example or by our photos.  We have learned over the years that great marriages don't just happen -- they take lots of continual maintenance.  Yes, you read that right, marriage takes WORK!  We have always had this dream that in 20 or even 50 years when we are retired on some tropical beach somewhere (I did say it was a dream) that we could look back at our career as wedding photographers and know that every single marriage we photographed is still going strong.  Even if we can play a small part in that, whether it be the little gifts we give our brides before the wedding (we've been getting RAVE reviews about how we upped our game this year!), the constant reminder of their beautiful wedding from the gorgeous photos on their walls, or doing giveaways like this, we love to help anyway we can.

Last year Brandy and I had a chance to go to a weekend long marriage conference called "A Weekend to Remember" and we walked away feeling so refreshed and connected.  The speakers were amazing and completely honest and candid about the path their own marriages were on.  They opened up about their own struggles and triumphs on a relatable level that later opened up a lot of communication between Brandy and I.  Don't ever think of this kinds of conferences as being only for failing marriages or for couples who do nothing but argue.  Every single marriage can get something out of this, so we wanted to share this experience with one of our couples!  We will be attending this conference as well, and wanted to allow another couple to go and we're picking up the tickets for you!  Enter below!  :-)

FamilyLife announces "I Still DO", a powerful, practical, one-day marriage event where couples can invest in and strengthen their marriage.  Couples will join thousands of others to affirm the fundamental importance of strong, healthy, committed marriages in every culture.  By exploring God's design for marriage, couples will have a chance to reaffirm that their marriage matters -- to their children and to the rest of society.

The "I Still Do" event is October 4, 2014 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC so there is still plenty of time to plan to attend.  This contest is open to any married couple, not just our past clients, so please be sure to share this blog post and this contest with any and all your married friends who want to spend a day strengthening their marriage!  Entering the contest is easy, just follow the directions below, follow our social media pages, and be sure to leave us a comment down below this blog post to let us know you're entered, excited for the event, and excited for your marriage!  Hope to see you there!




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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What the Ferengi "Rules of Acquisition" have Taught me About Owning a Real Photography Business



Ok ok ok...first off I would like to say that I (Chris) am a huge Trekie!  (Brandy is a closet Trekie)  So, with that said, some of you may immediately close this blog post, while others might get super excited and read further.  I just ask, if you own a business or want to, that you hear me out for a moment! 

The other day Brandy was out shopping with one of her girl friends and I was at home with the boys and decided to have a mini Star Trek: Deep Space Nine marathon (a la Netflix).  One of the main characters, Quark, is one of the large eared "alien" race known as the Ferengi.  They are a male dominated society whose entire life is dedicated to making profit.  (and when I say male dominated, their females are not allowed to wear clothing...just to put that in perspective)  They live by a set of 285 rules, "The Rules of Acquisition", that teach them how to remain profitable.  Most people, even in the show, just scoff at their entire race as little trolls who are backwards thinking and don't fit in the 25th century, and on most cases I completely agree and just enjoy them as comic relief to the show.  However, as Quark was reciting the rules of acquisition while talking about the bar he runs on their space station for which the show is named, I realized that there's several of the rules that many of us small business owners can learn from! (and a few that we can't).  Here are just five of my favorite rules for real life business use:



Rule of Acquisition #17 A contract is a contract is a contract ...but only between Ferengi.

We follow a lot of forums and blogs that have a lot of people wanting to break into the business of photography and many times they complain about things like clients who cancel on them last minute or want refunds for ridiculous things or a plethora of things that should have been spelled out explicitly in a well written, binding contract.  No matter how much you charge for your photography, whether $50 a session or $10,000 a wedding, you NEED to have a contract and you need to STICK to that contract!  Let your client know that the contract is there to protect your rights as well as theirs and you can avoid SO many issues.

Rule of Acquisition #21 Never place friendship above profit.

This might be a hard pill to swallow for some and seem a little harsh, but hear us out for a second, especially for those that are just starting out.  When you start a business, naturally the first place you are going to turn to is your friends for support.  The problem falls into when that friend thinks they can squeeze a deal out of you because they are your friend.  We have fallen prey to this problem more than once.  Unfortunately, the clients we have had who were supposed to be our "friends" before they were our clients have more than once turned out to be some of our worst clients.  They expect to not be charged as much, circumvent our contract, and rush turn around time for their photos before other clients because they are our friends.  They simply did not respect us as business owners.  They thought by being our clients they were doing US a favor by giving us their business and in return we owed them something more than the stellar service we already provide. Which ends up hurting or even destroying friendships.  Now don't get us wrong, we have some FANTASTIC friends that are clients; but they appreciate us as photographers and business owners.  We finally talked to a friend who owns a bakery; she told us that she does not offer "deals" for friends because of this fact.  This also falls back to the 17th Rule of Acquisition which we previously mentioned.  If they respect your friendship, they will respect your business.

Rule of Acquisition #57 Good customers are as rare as latinum (their currency)-- treasure them.

When it comes to small business two of the biggest things that can increase your bottom line is word of mouth marketing and repeat business!  Both of those things require you to really appreciate your good clients and show them that they are appreciated!  Does this mean giving them huge discounts?  Not really.  Not every client out there is just looking for a discount.  Your GOOD clients will know value when they see it.  They can get pictures from anywhere and if you think you have the best pictures out there...you're wrong.  Somebody out there is better than you.  What you can do though, is provide them with an unforgettable experience from beginning to end.  From your first email, to the packaging of their photos, make them feel appreciated and they will come back to you and bring friends!

Rule of Acquisition #218 Always know what you're buying.

This is another one that I have especially for the newbies out there, but naturally for everyone in this business.  Since 1839, photography has always been a two part deal: 1 part art, and 1 part science.  In the old days the science was more about chemicals and developing.  Today, the science part is more about technology and software.  Know what you're buying!  Do your research and know how the software or camera or lens or lighting is going to help your bottom line.  Do you want it because it will help an aspect of your business grow or because it's the new cool trendy thing to have in photography?   

Rule of Acquisition #255 A wife is a luxury ... a smart accountant is a necessity.

This one I put mainly because it makes me giggle, but there is a little bit of truth behind it.  Brandy is a entrepreneurial business major and she knows her stuff when it comes to keeping us out of the red, and we grow exponentially every single year and I treasure that!  Yes, we also now have a CPA who does our taxes as well!  As a small business, it's not a question of if you get audited, it's a question of when you get audited, and there is probably an obscure tax law out there that you didn't know about.  You need a CPA who knows the federal laws and especially your specific states laws!  In your state is giving a CD of images considered a service or a product, and is it subject to sales tax?  What's the best way to get a tax deduction for vehicle use?  Can I charge this meal as an expense?  Your CPA is going to keep you out of trouble! 

So, although much of the Ferengi rules of Acquisition contains frivolous amounts of greed and selfishness, there are several that have real sound advice for business owners.  You can't always be the good guy in business.  It's not personal...it's business!  If we had millions of dollars we would probably just travel the world shooting weddings for free to people who deserved to have beautiful photos, like Extreme Wedding Makeover: Photography Edition, but alas we are not millionaires and need to make a living and choose to do so by owning our own business like so many hard working Americans do, and even more did so before them.  The next time I get into a business discussion, I plan on having one or two of these rules ready to quote! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

{Boudoir} Gronde Photography Boudoir Mini-Session Marathon (NSFW)


Here in Virginia things were finally starting to heat up after such a crazy winter, but then it got cold again and actually snowed in April in some areas.  We decided that we would help things heat back up a little bit by giving you guys a very limited sneak peek at our boudoir mini-sessions from February.  There are many reasons we love doing boudoir photography and why our clients love it, as well.  These aren’t paid models who hang out in their lingerie all day.  These are real women, of all shapes and sizes, who work regular jobs and always come into our studio space and say the same thing, “I’ve never done anything like this before.”  The amazing thing is, as nervous as they are to take photos like these and see themselves with their hair and makeup professionally done, it only takes a few minutes of shooting for them to find a new confidence and empowerment in themselves.  We stop having to direct the poses and just shoot what we see.  They leave the session ready to take on the world and then again when they get the photos back and see how amazing they look in them (we never hear any complaints from their husbands either, who always receive a “little black book” as a gift).  The ladies below specifically asked us not to share any images that show their faces (with todays age of internet privacy, or lack there of we completely understand) which is a shame because there are so many AMAZING images we wish we could share with you where you can see the confidence in their eyes, which as any guy knows, is the sexiest part! 
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Please Contact Us today to book YOUR boudoir session!
& Thanks for following our blog!
Chris and Brandy
Gronde Photography

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