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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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'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'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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Fourth Anniversary to Gronde Photography!


First of all, we wanted to say Thank You all from the bottom of our hearts for even reading this blog post whether you subscribe to our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter,Google+, Instagram, or any of the other 500 social media sites we seem to be a part of.  (It’s really a full time job just keeping up with all of them)

If you would have asked us 10 years ago (or even 5 years ago) if we thought we could build a photography business that would be this successful, we wouldn't have believed you.  It really has been an amazing four years growing this business to what it is today and we feel like during the next few months and the 2014 wedding season, it will grow more than it has in the past four years combined.  We found some amazing photographers to mentor us into taking what we already have and make it thrive even more and we have learned SO much about the business side of photography.  We've changed so much of what we do and offer already.  We have loved the response we have received via reviews from our recent brides and clients!  We don't want to just offer you amazing photos on your wedding day; we want your entire day to be better because we are there.  For our family clients, we want to provide you with timeless art for your home that fits the style of your family, personality, and story of your lives.

We are so very excited to start our 5th year at Gronde Photography and see where this road takes us.  With Brandy leaving active military service with the US Navy soon, there are multiple options open for us and where we can go or what we do from here.  Brandy may have the opportunity to go back to school and earn another degree, find an awesome day job being the incredible administrative assistant that she is, or possibly be full time with Gronde Photography and operate out of the studio we may set up in our home.  This would let her take family and newborn clients during the week and allow us to include more of those during our busy wedding season.

We are putting a large push this year to ensure our clients have their photos on their walls; however, unlike a large majority of other photographers, we will otherwise be offering in person consultations/ordering sessions to show you the difference in the quality of prints and products we offer from our new vendor this year and show you samples of how great they will look on your wall.  So many clients get their DVD and never take the time to have them printed and hung on their walls.  Even we have fallen into the trap now and again with our OWN family photos!  We feel this is simply because we were not offered prints by the photographer and just never got around to doing it ourselves.  Our new prints are printed on 3mm styrene so that they are more durable and don't bend as easy, they also have a protective UV coating that makes them smudge resistant, fingerprint resistant, fade resistant, and even water resistant! (dare we say child resistant?)  This also, means, for your most important images you can frame without needing UV protected glass or glass at all! (a large portion of the cost of framing)  Our new prints are more durable, last longer, look better, and are more affordable to frame than what you can get by taking your images to CVS or ordering from Shutterfly.  One of the other changes, that will start very soon, is that we will no longer be providing DVD's with our packages.  Instead, we will turn to USB drives.  Technology has gotten to the point where many computers no longer have optical drives in them and that limits where you can view or upload your images and the last thing we want is for your images to stay on the DVD and not be shared with everyone (word of mouth is our #1 marketing tool!).  Even some tablets have USB ports now.  We know this is a great move for us and a great service to provide to you, who have often requested this change!

We've taken a long time to research what USB drives to offer so take comfort in knowing we are only offering the best!  In addition, we will be offering 2 types of files: 1. Print quality - These will be the files that you can use to print IF you decide not to order our fabulous prints.  2. Online quality - These will be watermarked images that are specifically formatted to display on social media but are NOT large enough to print.  What files you receive will depend on what package you purchase, but rest assured all photos will still be up to the standard you have grown accustomed to from Gronde Photography.

Thanks for reading!
Chris & Brandy Gronde

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

{April Fools} Gronde Photography, LLC has Been Acquired by Facebook

     It is with heavy hearts that we must inform everyone that Gronde Photography, LLC has been acquired by Facebook for $1.2M.  Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook recognize the quality of our work and the impact we are making on Washington, DC and the country as a whole.  It is definitely exciting to think about the future of what Facebook has in store for our company and for you, our client base and fans!

     On the heels of acquiring other companies like What's App and Oculus, Facebook has decided that wedding photography was an industry that they wanted to add to their portfolio and saw that opportunity in us, Gronde Photography.  "We want to make wedding photography social again," commented Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, "and Gronde PHotography had the same vision for wedding photography that we originally did for social media.  They are about the experience and so are we.  $1.2M was a steal!"

     Some experts in the industry are already beginning to speculate on what this merger will mean for both sides of the deal and what this power house could bring to the wedding industry.  Facebook just purchased Oculus, which develops completely immersive virtual reality headsets.  They could easily use this technology to allow those who can not make it to the wedding, or want to relive it, to see the photos in full 3D as if they were standing right there at the ceremony.  "This is a breakthrough for the wedding industry!  It's like you can reach out and touch a bridesmaid," said Tom Spradley of Wired Magazine.  Others considered integrating instant uploads of photos from Chris and Brandy Gronde's cameras directly to the bride and groom's facebook feeds so that their friends and family could instantly have their newsfeeds filled with over 2000 wedding images continuously throughout the evening until the point where they actually long to have a Candy Crush game request or melodramatic breakup post from a friend.

     Chris and Brandy Gronde said, "We are super excited for what Facebook is going to do with our company and being on their team will also allow us to expand our business further into Destination Weddings as we set up our new home and studio location in Cabo San Lucas!...Oh yeah, and Happy April Fool's Day!" ;-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

{Fashion Show} Gronde Photography at the 2013 Canadian Embassy Fashion Show

2013 brought a lot of firsts for Gronde Photography.  We have had a lot of requests to blog about one of those firsts and we never really got around to doing it so here it is!  Chris had the chance to photograph an annual fashion show at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC.  It was a few days before the event and we got a message sent to us through LinkedIn of all places!  So many people ignore that particular social network as being pretty useless, but Chris tries to keep up with it as much as possible and connect with people in the photography, fashion, modeling, and event industries.  This particular time it paid off, as we were contacted with a last minute requirement for a “step and repeat” photographer for the Canadian Embassy Fashion show.  Basically shooting the “red carpet” as the guests and designers come in to the show for the Embassy.  Then Chris had the chance to go inside and actually photograph the show himself (although there was an “official” photographer for the show itself; Chris had a GREAT vantage point for this part).  Below is a couple of the highlights from the best dressed guests to some of our favorite outfits from the show itself.  Be sure to let us know your favorites in the comments section!  Enjoy!

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Thanks for reading!
Chris and Brandy
Gronde Photography

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