Kara Abbey Photography | Irwin, PA » Organic, Happy, Natural - Wedding Photography


I can hardly believe it, but my little munchkin turned a whopping 18 months old this week!
She is such a little princess and is growing like a weed. She literally learns something new (sometimes good things and sometimes bad things) every single day & it is SO exciting!

Here’s a little update on what she’s up to these days!

She is madly in love with Daniel Tiger. Obsessed, infatuated, head-over-heels, crazy. She affectionately calls him “Danny” and could literally watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood all day long. She watches a show every morning while I answer emails and the last few weeks, she’s been picking Daniel over Baby Einstein (her previous love) – it’s just another sign that she’s growing up! We are going to Idlewild next week & I cannot wait for her to meet Daniel in person!! It is going to be so much fun to ride the kiddie-land rides based around his Neighborhood, watch the little shows they put on, and even get to MEET him!! My little Mama heart will probably explode! (we’re just hoping she isn’t scared of seeing a life-size version of her idol like some little kids *cough* like I was *cough* are)

She has a daily increasing vocabulary! A little over a month ago, she put her first 2 words together and they were: “more cheese” – what a kid. Since then, her 2 word sentences have since increased to “Thank-you Mama” and “Oh no” and “Oh boy” and “Bye-bye Abby”. She’s becoming steadily more and more proficient at repeating what you say, for example, we had to wish her little friend Xavier a happy birthday last week, and she could say “Happy” “Birth” – but the “Day” part was a little tricky, so it was “Happy .. Birth!” He just turned 2, so he speaks her language.

Abby is her very best friend. Braelynn asks for her literally the moment her eyes pop open in the morning. She can regularly be found laying on Abby, giving her hugs, reading her books, and feeding her treats (she discovered where we keep them, so now that cupboard is kept locked). She tells her “Bye-bye” every time we leave the house and has to give her good-night kisses before bed.

She is a pro at climbing up and down the stairs, climbing up and down off of the couches, climbing up and down off of our bed – basically, she’s a little monkey. She tries so so hard to jump, but still can’t figure out how to get both feet off of the ground at the same time. She does really well in the car, which is fabulous considering that we travel almost every single weekend! And she’s a pretty decent eater, but loves graham crackers and Cheerios and Kiefer smoothies the most.

She still doesn’t sleep thru the entire night and I think her morning nap is quickly coming to an end. She loves swimming at the lake (she cries when we arrive in the evening and can’t go straight down to the water) & would rather walk than ride in the stroller. Her tiny little feet have finally grown & we’ve moved into a size 5! WOOHOO! She is the proud owner of 12 teeth!! She literally went from having 4 to 12 in the space of about 6 weeks – she was doing really well and almost sleeping thru the night until that happened and then it was all over! She is very attached to her blankie, baby, bunny, and bear – and loves every stuffed animal she can get her hands on. She also has this funny attachment to washcloths? She loves to gather them up and carry a whole pile of them around – weird!

In a nutshell, we can’t imagine life without her. Anytime she isn’t with us, all we do is talk about how much we miss her and wish she were with us. She is our little sunshine, our super smiley, friendly lovebug, and we simply adore her!

To celebrate her half birthday, we did a little photoshoot! My thought was: since she has a January birthday (meaning, no fun outdoorsy photos for her birthday), we decided to go all out & have some fun with her half birthday! We combined all of her favorite things: reading, her blankie, bunny, & baby, and her big lion that was a (generous) gift from the Bacorns.


  • July 29, 2016 - 1:56 pm

    Jennifer Williams - Braelynn is absolutely adorable and I just love her many expressions. She has the cutest smile and her personality shines through your gorgeous images. She is a very lucky girl to have you as her Mom. I love reading all your updates about her!ReplyCancel

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5 Ways to Calm Wedding Day Jitters by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PA

The morning of your wedding, things will be a little chaotic. No matter how you prepare, how much you do the night before, how much you plan, wedding mornings are just crazy. There are things that simply cannot happen until the day of & suddenly everything is set into motion. All the trains and cars and cabooses have been set on the track and suddenly everything is rolling.

That craziness can send a bride one of several ways: into full blown bridezilla mode (which, let’s be honest, no one, including the bride, wants this to happen), into crazy work mode (rolling up her sleeves and working thru problems instead of enjoying the process that is a wedding morning), into laid back I-don’t-care mode (so much is happening, it’s so overwhelming, it’s easier to just roll over and play dead).

Then there are the brides who’s personalities are just so relaxed that nothing can shake them, and they are like solid rocks of happiness on their wedding day. Rain? No problem. Wardrobe malfunctions? It’ll make a funny story later. Missing guests? They’ll find their way somehow. Earrings left at the salon? Just borrow someone else’s. The limo is late? Well, the wedding can’t start without me!

No matter how relaxed you are though, as you get closer and closer to the big ceremony moment, jitters will arise. And here’s the deal: deep down, every bride (no matter her personality) wants to enjoy the wedding morning process.

So, what game plan can you set into place to start out on the right foot & calm those wedding day jitters?

Here are my top 5 ways to help keep the mood light, to enjoy the fleeting moments, and squash those anxiety bugs before they grow too large to get under foot!

Eat Something

Can you believe that most wedding mornings fly by & the bride doesn’t eat anything? It’s like, prepping for a marathon on a completely empty stomach! Even the worst athletes know that you have to put good fuel in your body if you expect it to perform for you – and the same goes for a wedding day. I don’t know about you? But when I get hungry – I get grumpy! So, save yourself a case of the grumpies, and make sure you get something to eat! Have someone bring in hoagies, prepare snacks the night before, hit up a drive-thru – whatever needs to happen to get some food in your system – do it!

Play Music

There is this amazing little tool – it’s called Spotify – ever heard of it? If you aren’t actively using Spotify (and on a daily basis) you are missing out! The ability to play any song an unlimited number of times is just – wow. Do yourself a favor, and create a playlist of your most favorite songs on Spotify! Go ahead, do a mix of sappy love songs, pumped up songs, Disney songs, songs from your teenage years, songs that make you think of your soon-to-be hubby, dance songs – everything! Then, come your wedding morning, you have a DJ in your pocket and all you have to do is set it up to shuffle and wa-la – instant mood-changer!
*want to avoid hearing the advertisements that come along with Spotify? the week of your wedding, sign up for their FREE 30-day trial of Spotify Premium!

Good Friends

It goes without saying that your best friends will be by your side as your bridesmaids and they will be getting ready with you. Here’s the deal though, they may not exactly know what that means. They may not be all educated up on the duties of a good bridesmaid, so you might have to tell them. It’s so much more than just wearing a pretty dress & walking down the aisle in front of the bride! If your friends don’t know what they should be doing the morning of the wedding, feel free to tell them! Ask them for their help, instruct them how they can help you, and above all, feed off of their good energy! They know you better than anyone, so encourage them to laugh and make jokes, and have tissues ready when the tears fall!

First Look

I know, it’s completely untraditional, and my Mother hates them, but seriously, the best way to calm any wedding day anxiety is to see the person you love so much. You are marrying them for a reason, right? No one can calm you down and light you up like they can. And trust me, as a bride who did a first look on her wedding day, it was like I could breathe again. Just being able to see him and genuinely react (without 200 pairs of eyes staring at you) and hug him – whew – that makes all the butterflies go away!

Invisible First Look

Okay, so say you are super traditional and simply cannot see each other before the ceremony. But you really want all the “effects” of a first look – what do you do? Do an invisible one! Meet at a corner or around a door and hold hands. Just a little touch will help so much. Plus, being able to talk and make sure everything is okay on his end is so so helpful. You spend weeks, months, even years planning this huge ordeal, and then suddenly you’re behind closed doors while it’s all set into motion. The groom can reassure you that everything is fine, y’all can squeeze each other’s hands, and then deep breath – the ceremony can begin.

Do you have other ways to help calm wedding day jitters?
Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear them!

And for other helpful tips and tricks, see my other “Common Wedding Day Questions” here!

5 Ways to Calm Wedding Day Jitters by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PA
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Behind the Scenes Anatomy of a Family Photo by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PA

If you’ve ever tried to take a family group photo of more than 2 people, I’m sure you’ve run into this common problem: people simply don’t cooperate. And that can be for so many reasons! Maybe they’re little people and they don’t understand that they’re supposed to look at the camera & smile. Maybe they’re having a bad day & are grumpy. Maybe there are too many distractions calling for everyone’s attention. Whatever the case, whenever you get a group of people together & attempt to take a group photo, it’s rare to get everyone looking, with pleasant expressions on their faces, & all eyes open in the same shot!

And that’s where Photoshop comes in.

Ever wondered how we photographers magically get “the shot”? Kid-squirming-crazy-atmosphere and all? It’s not magic, just a little bit of Photoshop work – that’s all. And I thought this most recent Abbey family photo would be a fun demonstration. Ready for a little “behind-the-scenes”?

I’ll give you a disclaimer: if you’re the type of person who believes their family is always perfect & never in need of any type of Photoshop work, then quietly back away & forget that this post even exists. Feel free to continue on being an innocent bystander.
I think most people though expect (and even ask) for a little bit of Photoshop “help”. Everyone is simply so used to it. “You can Photoshop that, right?” is a common question I hear all the time!

So, on with the show! The last time we were altogether, Mom Abbey called for a family photo. Ellen was traveling with us, so bonus – we had a photographer to take the photo (usually it’s a tripod & remote shutter!) Here we are setting up – notice how thrilled Braelynn looks – she’s playing the role of the grumpy one in today’s example.

Behind the Scenes Anatomy of a Family Photo by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PA

Ellen fired off 17 versions of the image below. And as you can imagine (this is a shocker, I know) not one was worthy of printing or even posting to Facebook.

So, in looking thru those 17 images, I found the one with the best “bones” – usually it’s the one with the least amount of “problems” and the most amount of happy smiling faces. Sometimes though, the image that gets picked as the “foundation” is picked simply because it’ll be the easiest to fix!

Obviously, we had some problems with the image I picked to fix up. Both Braelynn & Cameron weren’t looking, the group was off-centered, and the sky looks like it was about to rain. All in all, not a horrible photo, but not one I would want anyone to frame!

Behind the Scenes Anatomy of a Family Photo by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PA

So, then I set out, like a pirate seeking treasure, to find images from those remaining 16 that have the pieces I need: in this case, I needed Cameron & Braelynn to be at least looking at the camera (hey, if they are under the age of 3, I settle for simply looking at the camera, pleasant expressions can come later)

Behind the Scenes Anatomy of a Family Photo by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PABehind the Scenes Anatomy of a Family Photo by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PA

Then I get to work swapping heads! Shh, it’s much less painful than it sounds. I did some other minor editing as well – I swapped the sky for something that looks a bit more pleasant, brightened everyone’s faces up, warmed up the image a bit and wa-la! So much better! And now definitely worthy of being printed, framed, and hung on a wall for display.

Behind the Scenes Anatomy of a Family Photo by Kara Abbey Photography in Irwin, PA

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A Day in the life of a Wedding Photographer, Irwin, PA

So I thought this would be a fun change of pace! Ever wondered what the days of a wedding photographer really look like? It might seem all exciting & glamorous to shoot fabulous weddings on Saturdays, but what does the rest of life look like? What about a wedding photographer who is also a wife & Mama? Here’s what a typical day looks like in the Abbey house!

Braelynn is an early riser, she always has been! So, we’re typically up around 6:30am. After a few lazy moments in bed snuggling & looking for the dog, we tromp downstairs where she gets her morning smoothie & Mama gets her coffee. Braelynn settles into the couch with Abby to watch her newest obsession: Daniel Tiger (a few weeks ago it was Baby Einstein, but we’re progressing!) and I head over to my computer. I have about 30 minutes to get administrative tasks completed for the day: answering emails, bookkeeping, paperwork.

Then the business is put on hold & it becomes Braelynn & Mama time. We make breakfast, read books, do laundry, vacuum, play dollies – until nap time which is typically around 10am. Braelynn goes down for a nap & I set back to work. It’s amazing the amount of work I can get done when I have a limited amount of time! 90 minutes isn’t a lot, but it’s the bubble I get, so I put my hustle on & get to it! Editing, timelines, blogging, SEO – it all happens while the babe is asleep!

When she wakes up, we make lunch, and then if we have any errands to run for the day – we head out. We run to Target, go grocery shopping, stop over at Grandma’s, or go have a playdate with the little boy Aunt Amy nannies. Then it’s back home for an afternoon nap – typically around 3pm. Enter another bubble of hustle time for this Mama! During off-season, this time is a little more relaxed & includes more reading, and research, and learning. But during wedding season, it’s all about getting those wedding photos turned around!

Derrick gets home typically right around the time Braelynn gets up from her afternoon nap & then we move into dinner & family time. We like to go for walks, read books, and play outside together! Braelynn’s bath time is 7pm and bedtime follows! I would love to say that my evenings are typically spent relaxing & enjoying time with Derrick, but he would beg to differ that most of my evenings are spent working. We both are building small businesses so, we both tend to work for at least an hour after Braelynn goes to bed. Computers usually go off by 9pm though and we snuggle together with our good friend Netflix. Our current obsession is Fixer Upper and we simply can’t get enough!

It might not be pretty or perfectly “balanced”, but it works! Of course, there are days when we completely scrap our schedules and go do something completely different! And that’s exactly the flexibility & freedom that comes from owning your own business! I know there are tasks and things that need to get done, but I also know if I work hard & tackle my to-do list, I have the freedom to do fun things! And I absolutely love it – I wouldn’t trade it for the whole world.

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