Meet Abbey Moore; she's her own boss over at Abbey Moore Photography capturing it all - weddings, seniors, families, even dogs. She currently lives in Grand Rapids with her husband & dog and can be found unwinding from the day with a glass of wine and Netflix. Catch her advice she has that got her to where she is today, and be inspired by her own inspirations (like Beyonce's maternity photos!?) Thanks for sharing a piece of your story Abbey!
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU IN SCHOOL, WORK?
Right now I’m living my own personal dream as a wedding photographer and full time self-employed human! I photograph weddings, couples, seniors, families, dogs … you name it. I also lead workshops with two other photographers called The Own It Workshop.
WHAT'S YOUR DAILY ROUTINE LIKE? ANY MORNING RITUALS OR TIPS ON HOW TO GET READY?
Every morning I’m woken up when my husband leaves for work and re-tucks me into bed and pulls the covers up. I sleep for about thirty more minutes and then drag myself out of bed to go workout. I go to the same boot camp class every morning at 9:15. I love the structure, the people and being done and ready to start my day by 10:30. When I come home I typically change back into my pajamas and get cranking on my e-mails! I can never start working until my e-mails are answered and my house is tidy. And as always - I’ve got a cup of coffee with french vanilla creamer in it (I really just drink the coffee for creamer). I make myself a lunch most days and edit any photos that need to be edited until the evening. Weekdays are broken up with coffee dates with friends, photo sessions, taking my dog McCoy to the park and the occasional lunch with my parents. My evenings are spent with a glass of red wine, Netflix (currently binge watching Shameless with my husband) and in bed by 11pm. I end each day reading on my Kindle - but usually it’s just me re-reading the Harry Potter series.
SO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS, TELL US HOW THAT STARTED!
I went to Michigan State University with the hopes of pursuing a degree in Journalism, specifically photojournalism and design. I focused on that up until my senior year of college when I stumbled upon a few photographers who - in my opinion - took wedding photography to a new level (Jill DeVries, Studio Castillero, Sean Flannigan … to name a few). I became obsessed with learning everything that I could. I finally got my hands on a trustworthy and impressive camera and began photographing ANYONE and EVERYONE who would let me. I mainly took headshots for the theatre students and my dance classmates. I loved interacting with people, making art and telling a story. It was the perfect combination of my journalism background and my artsy tendencies. After college I took a design job in Milwaukee, WI where I worked on my photo skills during the lunch hour and weekends. I shot my first wedding in 2011 for a friend and began second shooting for anyone who would allow me to. After a year of living in Wisconsin I moved back to Michigan, worked part time and continued to try and build a business. In the summer of 2013 I was full time. I hustled, I got lucky and I was at an age where everyone in my town I grew up in was getting married. It was super exhilarating.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST, THE PROCESS OR THE RESULT?
Ooh - that is such a good question. I think that both aspects of the job fulfill a different part of me. Speaking of weddings specifically - I am so in the moment on the actual day that I usually don’t even realize the gravity of the images I’m taking. I’m not necessarily your “fly on the wall” photographer. I tend to build relationships with everyone at the wedding - and in a way - insert myself into a part of the day to get the most real and true reactions (aka hugs with grandmas, dancing with their friends, etc). It’s exhausting and incredible. I thrive on building relationships and creating connections. The process does that for me. The result however - allows my introverted self to hole up on a couch, work on edits, and perfect my craft. It’s where the artistry comes in - and fulfills the detail oriented, perfectionist side of my brain.
WHO'S YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
I don’t think that I have a single person who is an inspiration to me - and quite honestly it changes all of the time - but today - now - here’s my answer. 1. Pete Souza. The Obama administration’s photographer for all eight years produces some of the most brilliant and best documentary photography I’ve ever seen. The way he captured the happy moments, the serious moments and all the in-betweens completely take my breath away. My goal this year is to try and use his journalistic approach to the weddings I shoot. He seems to always get the expected image in a completely unexpected way. 2. Beyonce’s maternity photos by Awol Erizku. They created conversation, arguments and complete awe. They are original and REAL pieces of art. I want to work with clients who are willing to take a step outside of the box and make photos that are really meaningful and special. 3. I am always and forever inspired by the work of Frida Kahlo. She’s such a mystery to me - and the contrast of the bright happy colors with the subject matter of her pieces is brilliant. I love who she is as a person - and I love how she used her life challenges to fuel her art. It’s sometimes so easy to disengage your real life with your art - when the best work probably comes when they two come together.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK LIFE AND PERSONAL LIFE AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN?
What work life balance? Ha ha …. But seriously this is something I am ALWAYS working on. This year I am really challenging myself to stop chasing money - and start only doing the work that fuels my passion. It’s so easy to say yes to every project and every job that comes my way because it means more money - but I don’t want to burn out and I don’t want to just take photos for the paycheck. I think that finding this balance will give me more free time to spend with friends and family - especially during the summer when things get crazy.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT GRAND RAPIDS? GIVE US YOUR TOP FIVE PLACES!
Ooh oh oh! Love this. Okay.
- Terra GR - I’m obsessed with their beet salad (always swap out blue cheese for goat cheese) and their Terra 75 gin cocktail. YUM.
- Book & Mortar - new bookstore on Cherry St that is so incredibly beautiful and carries the best books. I could sit in there and browse forever. If they’re reading this - hire me?!
- Wolfgangs - I know it might be overrated but their breakfast is my favorite. Plus they have french vanilla creamer. I love sitting at the bar on a Saturday morning. I could sit there for hours.
- Roselle Park - this is technically in Ada - but it’s my favorite place to take my dog Mccoy for a walk. It goes along the Grand River and it’s usually pretty secluded and quiet. No matter if it’s snowy or sunny - it’s beautiful.
- Winchester - This is my favorite bar in the world. Forget bar hopping - just let me sit here all night and drink their red wine and eat their brussel sprouts. Plus - in the summer their patio is the perfect place.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING ON A DAILY BASIS?
No questions asked - it’s the idea that I can give someone something tangible to remember their life. That - paired with creating relationships and making people feel good about themselves is what gets me up every single day. I’m a huge advocate for body positivity and body kindness - and shooting fearless sessions (a type of boudoir photoshoot) has been life changing for giving women the gift of seeing themselves for how beautiful they are.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FOUR PERSONALITY TRAITS AND WHY?
Independent - I’m strong willed - I try hard not to lean on too many people and I tend to tackle most of the tasks in my life solo. I want to be the type of woman that can handle things on her own - but knows how to ask for help when it’s necessary.
Leader - I’m a Type A, Enneagram 1 person to my core. I’m a perfectionist and I tend to tackle my problems head on. I hope that I am always striving to be the best version of myself - and therefore encouraging others to reach their potential in the same way. I want to make good changes in the world - and I have a hard time sitting still and standing back :)
Strong - This word actually came from my friends. When I asked them what words described me the most - a few of them chose this. I like to think that it means I am strong-willed and can handle whatever life decides to throw at me. My parents are two of the strongest people I know - and I can only hope I gained a little bit of their strength.
Encouraging - This applies to my style of working with clients. I want them to walk away from their photo session feeling beautiful, and proud of who they are as a person. If they can feel encouraged and happy while getting their photo taken - I’ve done my job. Also I was a cheerleader in high school.
HOW DOES YOUR STRONG AND INDEPENDENT PERSONALITY SHOW IN DAILY LIFE?
Since day one I’ve completely enjoyed the process of building the business from the ground up - and putting the full weight and pressure of that on myself. I think that the independent woman in me loved the challenge and grew stronger because of it. You have to have a level of independence to be an entrepreneur - because if you don’t do the work - then it won’t get done.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? TEN?
First and foremost I hope that I am still in a loving and happy relationship with my husband and best friend, Jake. I hope that we have a second dog, too! But work-wise - I hope that I am creating work that pushes me and challenges me. It’s so easy to put out the kind of work that everyone else is doing - and I really hope that in the next five years I can push the envelope and create something more unique and individual than I’ve done before. Ten years? I hope I’m still a relevant wedding photographer ;) But honestly - I hope that that I am somehow engaged in a way to give back to the photography community and teach beginners how to build a business and build a life that they love. I see more workshops in the future, more teaching opportunities and more art and collaboration. I’ll be bummed if my work still looks the same ten years later.
WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO PURSUE WHAT YOU'RE DOING?
Don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. Take photos. ALL THE TIME. I used to grab anyone who I knew and make them go in front of my camera. At one time - 100% of my website was full of people who didn’t even pay me to take their photo. You can’t expect to get paid without having any experience. So take photos, make mistakes and know that every time you meet someone you are forming a future connection. My first weddings I did were from college friends or high school friends older siblings. Be kind. You never know who will be asking you to take their photo. And most importantly - go all in. If you have a backup plan to fall back on - you’re never going to fully commit and make the leap. I’ve always loved Jim Carrey’s quote that “You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
Check out more from Abbey below!