One year ago today I signed up for my French adventure (well, my second French adventure)! I had traveled to Paris, France about ten years ago with friends and I was so eager to go back. The Signature Atelier opened on January 2, 2017 and I was one of the first to sign up (The new registration opened TODAY so hop over to get a seat). I didn’t really know what to expect. For the coming months I watched all of the pre-workshop fun via social media and it was so exciting to think about what the workshop was going to be like. I was also excited to meet the other women who had signed up. More importantly I was over the moon about meeting ABBY GRACE!
The day finally arrived and I was on my way to France. I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport and hopped in an Uber to take me to the Chateau. When I arrived I was greeted by Alicia Yarrish, Dawn Brown and Pj Saffran. We walked down the little street to grab a drink because we had around an hour and a half before check in. When we made it back to the house we knocked on the door and standing there was ABBY! She greeted everyone with a huge hug and showed us our rooms. The house was amazing!
Pj and I were roomies so we went up to unpack and chat. As the other ladies started to arrive and the house was filled, Abby and Katherine invited us all down for the welcome dinner. The meals were so great every night! This dinner was great because we were all together and we all had a chance to talk about who we were and why we decided to come along on this journey. We ended the night with a chat by Abby and an explanation of what the coming days were going to entail. Later on that night, Alicia and I went out for a walk and got lost trying to come back home, it was a little embarrassing but we’re alive and well! The next morning, Pj and I ventured out of the house at sunrise to view the quiet streets and take in the French air. The little town of Le Chesnay was so charming.
When we arrived back home we went straight into breakfast with the other ladies, followed by one of our many mentoring sessions given by Abby. The sessions were amazing. Abby poured out her heart starting from the very beginning of her business. She taught us what it felt like for her to grow and also gave us some of the best tips. Tips that you had to be PRESENT to receive. At Lunch time we jumped on the REI for an adventure to the Latin Quarter and for a walking tour of Paris! The REI was so much fun and the French Quarter was beautiful. My favorite time during this day was the walking tour of Paris. We stopped in for a few headshots at the Palais-Royal and I was stunned at all of it’s beauty. I had only dreamed of stepping foot on these grounds. After a while of being together as a group we split up into smaller groups and searched the city on our own. I had the pleasure of being with the lovely Katie McGihon. If you don’t know her you should! She is the sweetest soul and was a blast to hang out with. You’ll find here pictured in front of a green wall. Isn’t she the cutest? We ended our day with dinner at home followed by an evening roundtable.
The next morning we woke up super early for a sunrise anniversary session at the Eiffel Tower, this experience was amazing. The gown was handmade by Katherine Bignon, a talented designer and the co-host of The Signature Atelier. We all had time slots and were pushed to the max in our posing and ability to communicate with our couples. I particularly enjoyed this because I have had my share of posing difficulties. So of course when it was my turn to pose the couple, the grounds keeper came to sweep in a neon green jacket. He literally wouldn’t move and I was super frustrated. I asked for a time out and Abby sweetly said no! I was nervous on her answer but then she explained it. “What if you only have 5 minutes for bride and groom portraits during a wedding, what are you going to do?” From that moment on it all made sense, jump in with both feet, use what you have and make it great! This was the highlight of my time at the workshop.
The second highlight of my time in France was the French garden wedding styled shoot. I absolutely loved this shoot because we were introduced to medium format film. If you have been following me, then you know that I purchased my Pentax 645n in July. I have fallen in love with my film work. We all had a chance to shoot the Pentax in the garden and The Find Lab scanned my film after the workshop. Abby spent time with each girl as we metered, shot the images and learned how to seal the film. I was blown away when I received my scans a little while after the workshop. This season you will find me Pentax in hand at every wedding event! Stay tuned to the blog for more about my film journey!
On one of the last days, we ventured to Versailles with Abby, Katherine and Jenn Heller. Jenn is a super talented graphic designer and she is just as sweet. I snapped an image of the trio at the front gardens and i’m so glad I did! The three were laughing and smiling and you could tell they just love each other so much. I could only imagine to have a friendship like this in my own life in the industry. Abby took my headshots in the gardens and then we all split to venture on our own. We had fun walking through the Petit Trianon. I got a chance to do some headshots for the other girls and take in the city and this entire experience.
Looking back to one year ago, I am so glad to place this in my memories. I learned so much, I laughed so much and most of all I loved so much. I came back to KC ready to create but it didn’t really hit me until I had a chance to decompress and take it all in. This off season has been the best and I absolutely cannot wait to create this year with our 2018 brides. To the new workshop attendees, you will not be disappointed. I can’t wait to see all the fun unfold this summer.
If you haven’t yet, click HERE to check out our new website that launched last night and stay tuned to the blog for more updates on our 2018 journey!
Workshop: The Signature Atelier by Abby Grace and Katherine Bignon
Eiffel Anniversary Shoot
Model: Arienne Swinson
Blush Gown: Katherine Bignon
Jewelry: Bekah Anne Accessories
French Garden Wedding Styled Shoot
Model: Trevor + Christie Dixon
Lace Gown: Katherine Bignon
Ribbon: Ruffled Lane
Jewelry: Bekah Anne Accessories
Stationary: Jenn Heller Design Co.