Abi Fields: Blog https://www.abifields.com/blog en-us (C) Abi Fields (Abi Fields) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:44:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:44:00 GMT https://www.abifields.com/img/s/v-12/u944918669-o133055696-50.jpg Abi Fields: Blog https://www.abifields.com/blog 80 120 Paint a Dress for Success: An artist's journey https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/3/how-to-raise-money-for-your-kickstarter-dream-paint-a-dress-for-success  

            As an independent photographer and small business owner, the creative wheels never stop churning. From innovative marketing ideas to challenging myself to dive outside of my comfort zone, my journey, however isolated it may feel at times, is not embarked on alone. Where does an independent artist in Asheville find inspiration, financial backing, and most importantly, an enormous group of loyal supporters tirelessly rooting in their corner?

            Stina Anderson, clothing designer and owner of ARTeries by Stina, is not alone either. Late last month she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise financial backing for the next part of her journey: a full-service Mobile Boutique offering custom designed handmade clothing, seamstress services and hand-picked local and regional products.

Stina Andersen, Fashion Designer and owner of ARTeries by Stina

Asheville's live canvases for Stina's Paint a Dress for Success event

            In harmony with the campaign, Stina hosted a “Paint a Dress for Success” fundraising event on Saturday, March 14th, at 310 Art Gallery. The events featured models adorned in blank garments created by Stina as community supporters took to paint brushes and were able to leave a personal creative mark via paint.

Asheville model, Betsy Fregoso, dressed in the Atelier Collection

asheville fashion designer on runwayAsheville Model, Ginger Wilde, in Stina's Atelier Collection

It was visually representative of the vital role Stina's community plays in her success as an artist. Through their strokes, guests not only pledged financially to the Mobile Boutique, but visually as well.

Asheville model, Sarah Merrell, in Lady in Lace

The Lady in Red

            The event concluded with an intimate fashion show highlighting the elegance of local models and Stina’s beautiful designs. I sat down with Stina to get a personal peak behind the curtains of the Mobile Boutique and to see what success means to her.

Abi:  Tell us how you first got involved in fashion and design? Any mentors that have helped shape your vision and passion? How has Asheville contributed to it?

Stina: I came to fashion from a fine arts background in sculpture and fibers, but I was always a self taught sewer and fashionista; making and designing clothing and costumes from an early age. I first modeled for a friend in a local fashion show, and was like- I should be designing, not on the runway!  I have always regarded my colleagues as extremely important in my growth as a fashion designer, but my sculpture professor in college was the creative mentor that helped me define my life as an artist. James Nestor stressed the importance of living my life artistically, not just making art.  Asheville helped me find my niche with making custom clothing and costumes; I created my business here because they were in demand.

Abi: What is the inspiration behind the Mobile Boutique and how is it unique?

Stina:  After renting several studios in the River Arts District, I decided to go mobile. There are trucks all over the country, and traveling is second nature to me. (I have lived out of an art car while traveling through Mexico.) My mobile boutique will also include Renegade Seamstress services, sewing classes and all designer handmade clothing and accessories. Many Mobile Boutiques carry imported clothes like big box stores. I strive to offer amazing customer service and tailoring, and quality unique, local and regional products. In time, I want to represent several other local clothing and jewelry designers in the regional market.

Abi: Your Paint a Dress for Success event was fantastic, original and brought together so many artists from the community. Tell us more about how the idea materialized and how do you feel like it was a success?

Stina: This was a reinvented concept for a fundraiser; as I had on two previous occasions, costumed myself in white and had paint available for people to paint my clothes.  The concept of a 1$=1minute of painting was an accessible and fun way for people to enjoy themselves and donate to my kickstarter campaign in person. The 5 transformed by paint outfits I had designed from up cycled white garments were then silently auctioned off after the runway show. I was surprised with how many artists came to paint, and enjoyed watching the collaboration process. The event was a great success- I would do it again! Perhaps a larger scale, gala style painting for an event as entertainment, (see my top reward tier for pre-buying a fashion show of this nature).

Abi: You have launched a Kickstarter fundraiser for the Mobile Boutique. How is it going and how can the community learn more about you and your venture?

Stina:  Yes I launched the ARTeries by Stina Mobile Boutique Kickstarter late last month. After this weekend's success we have crested over 20%.  With less then 2 weeks to go, I need a backer miracle. The best way to learn about the venture is to follow this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arteriesbystina/arteries-by-stina-mobile-boutique. Watch & Share the video about my sewing and local fashion business venture by local videographer, Marshall Hammer.

Abi: Do you have any other fundraising plans in the works?   

Stina: Wow! no. A 36 day Kickstarter campaign with a promo event has been the biggest marketing push of my business career. Fundraisers are exhausting, especially for a single parent, working part time, and keeping up with current commissioned projects. Fortunately, I have had the most amazing support team to help me build success together. It has been an amazing educational experience. After the campaign closes, if unfunded, I will investigate taking out a business loan to purchase the mobile boutique vehicle.

Abi: What three things are key for entrepreneurs, especially independent artists, to be successful in Asheville? What has been your biggest learning experience?


1) Educational resources are your friends; find someone with the answers. SCORE at AB Tech, at the Enka Campus, has great free business courses. 

2) What I discovered this past fall working with Handmade in America, NC REAL Entrepreneurship and the AAAC is that being a creative business woman is different from being an artist with a business. 

3) Staying motivated when times are tough, listen to a great podcast like Entrepreneur On Fire Business Podcasts - Daily podcast interviews with today's most successful Entrepreneurs.

Asheville is a great launching point for creative businesses. 

#1 importance: Define your niche, and get out in front of your target customers!

Abi: Where will you be six years from now?

Stina:  In 6 years...I will have explored most of the US with the Mobile Boutique, and will be traveling the last summer with my daughter before she heads off to college. I will have plans underway for getting my Mobile Boutique to cross the ocean for Europe.  

Have you checked out my Kickstarter? Every Buck helps buy the Fashion Truck. Thanks for your support!  

Wishing you all the best, Stina Andersen

* With just 8 days left of the Kickstarter campaign, I encourage everyone to lend a hand to Stina and the Mobile Boutique! 

All the best,



(Abi Fields) art gallery asheville art asheville designer asheville fashion asheville wedding photographer how to make money kickstarter photography https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/3/how-to-raise-money-for-your-kickstarter-dream-paint-a-dress-for-success Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:59:00 GMT
Color me Goodwill: A Fusion of Fashion, Art and Food for a Mission https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/color-me-goodwill-a-fusion-of-fashion-art-and-food-for-a-mission There is a fine fluidity that exists in Asheville; one that is grounded in and flourishes in the rich history of community and art. Anyone who is anyone knows this dynamic duo plays an intricate and necessary role in making Asheville, well, Asheville. But what if you add a third dimension to the mix: integrating a local non-profit’s aim to increase awareness of the impact of the community’s donations and financial support on its programs, services and the environment? How can an organization that has historically not been rooted in the arts, beholden to a sector where the fundraising clock never stops, think outside of the box and while doing so, make it personal, unique and fun? Goodwill rose to the occasion last night and answered brilliantly through their “Color Me Goodwill: A Fusion of Fashion, Art and Food for a Mission,” held at The Venue, in downtown Asheville. 

asheville art, goodwill, the venue, asheville model, asheville designer, asheville photographer, Color Me Goodwill: A Fusion of Fashion, Art & Food for a MissionAsheville models and creatives take the runway at The Venue.

MC’d by Susan Reinhardt, author, speaker and beauty consultant, and coordinated by fashion model and actress, Sarah Merrell, the evening showcased the phenomenal talent of local designers’ transformation of average second hand clothing into runway-ready fashion ensembles. Each of Goodwill’s six programs, including workforce development for adults, persons with disabilities, veterans and former offenders, was represented via beautiful models and energetic program participants in various teams of colored themes. They took to The Venue’s runway, in step with the musical talent of Eric Everett of Asheville Party, and flash art paintings from some of the city’s finest artists. Attendees overflowed The Venue’s seating capacity to standing room; hundreds of community members were entertained, educated, and involved in the mission of Goodwill’s programs and services. Ticket sales will be used to raise further awareness of their extensive offerings.

Delicious appetizers and desserts were plentiful; courtesy of Asheville favorites such as Asheville Bouchon, Social Lounge, Strada, The Colorful Palate Catering and The Local Joint. Guests even had the opportunity to purchase the various flash art pieces from the evening.

asheville photographer, asheville model, asheville designer, asheville venue, Color Me Goodwill: A Fusion of Fashion, Art & Food for a MissionLocal models and creatives take the runway in second-hand fashion masterpieces.

The event exemplified the endless possibilities of Asheville’s creative soul. The evening was anything but shy of an aesthetically personal integration of the community’s collectiveness and humanitarian roots. Finally, attendees were able to vote for their favorite color designer and artist.

Over-the-head high fives to Goodwill, The Venue, and all of the amazing designers, artists, businesses and most importantly, Asheville, for exemplifying the endless possibilities of our community’s creative soul!



Author, Speaker & Beauty Consultant Susan Reinhardt - Author

Model & Actress, Sarah Merrell

Catherine Vibert, Catherine Vibert Photography

McKinney Gough, Mckinney Gough Designs
Bethany Adams, Rhetorical Factory
Stina Andersen, ARTeries by Stina 
Leanna Echeverri, Grateful Threads Organics
Tami-Lu Barry 
Kati Foster, KatDog Couture / InTerGalaCtIc KiTTy

Lynn Smith Stanley
Michael Allen Campbell, Art by Michael Allen Campbell
Breah Livolsi Parker 
Barbara Frohmade
Mary Alice Ramsey, 310 ART Gallery
Fleta Monaghan, 310 ART Gallery

The Venue Asheville
Asheville Bouchon
Social Lounge
Strada Asheville
The Colorful Palate Catering
The Local Joint

Ruth & Ranshaw

Eric Everett of Asheville Party

(Abi Fields) asheville model asheville venue asheville wedding photographer best asheville restaurant fashion photography https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/color-me-goodwill-a-fusion-of-fashion-art-and-food-for-a-mission Sat, 28 Feb 2015 22:00:00 GMT
3 of New York City's worst coffee shops for bloggers https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/3-of-New-York-Citys-worst-coffee-shops-for-bloggers It's freezing. And it should be, it's dead winter in New York City. I'm in Chelsea and have three hours to kill before I am due at Wix Lounge for a website/portfolio consultation hosted by APA's New York City chapter. I am probably like a ton of other bloggers and photographers in the city with time to kill; I am looking for three things: warmth, coffee and free wifi. As a millennial, I assume (and expect) that finding a local, non-Starbucks, coffee shop with wifi in NYC should be a breeze! Right? Wrong! I began my quest for the trinity about an hour ago as I ascended from the 23rd street Path Station. My Google search for "best NYC coffee shops for writers" pinged back with an array of possibilities. New Jersey landscape photographer. New York landscape photographer. New Jersey snowscapeBlack and white landscape of New Jersey winter. First up, Cafe Grumpy. It's Chelsea location is on 20th street between 7th and 8th Avenues.  If you are looking for a posh, locally owned and operated coffee shop with a catch, this one's for you. Go Chelsea. 

I was there in a hop, skip and a jump and upon first glance, was aesthetically impressed! Like most independent coffee shops that appeal to me, it was small, quaint and to my surprise, had a few empty tables. Success. I had found what I was looking for! Then it happened. The unthinkable. A warmth-coffee-wifi-seeking-blogger's worst nightmare. I approached the counter, ready to order my large drip coffee and there it was, staring me down as if it was the final stand-off. Taped, glued and in big, bold letters, my nemesis read: "NO LAPTOPS ALLOWED." New York City landscape photography. New York City coffee shop, Cafe Grumpy, Chelsea. One of NYC's coffee shops with a no-laptop policy!

"What can I get for you?" gleamed my seemingly miserable, hipster barista.

"Uh, can you recommend a coffee shop that allows laptops?" I couldn't believe the words had just come out of my mouth.

"Yea, there's B Cup. It's like right around the corner."

That's friggin vague, I thought to myself, this is New. York. City.

"So back towards 7th Ave?"

"Yea, it's like right around the corner. By the bank."

Fitting name, Cafe Grumpy. I rounded 7th, spotted the bank across the street, and did a quick intake. Pub, check. Italian restaurant, check. Bodega, yup. B Cup? Not quite. Back to trusty Google. I found B Cup on the map. But it wasn't around the corner, not by a long shot. Walking directions: 1.7 miles. Just around the corner eh? I guess the west village is considered by some in Chelsea to be right around the corner. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love walking the streets of New York with my camera and taking in the sights in sounds. I was short on time, was loaded down with camera and laptop, and the village was the opposite direction of where I needed to be in a few hours. And as a millennial, I can completely appreciate a "no laptop" policy. Human interaction is diminishing behind screens. Lots of screens. But today just wasn't one of those days. I was on a mission. 

As I did another quick intake, I saw FIKA across the street. It looked too stuffy to be a locally owned coffee shop, but this nose can smell coffee a mile away. I went to investigate. 

New York City landscape photography. New York City commercial photography.Fika, New York City coffee shopNYC coffee shop with limited wifi!

I cut right to the chase. "Hi, do y'all have wifi?"

"Yea, we do, but it's limited to 30 minutes."

I immediately cut my losses. 

"Thanks, can you recommend a local coffee shop in the area that has unlimited wifi?"

"Well, our other location does. 16th and 6th Ave."

New York City architecture and landscape photography.New York City skyscraper.New York City architecture at its finest!

Still cold, I set off down 7th ave. As I crossed to 6th, I saw Think Coffee. It looked perfect! As I walked in, I did a laptop check. And there they were, people huddled over mac books and iPads! Finally, I thought. But just to be sure...

New York City landscape photography.Think Coffee, New York City. Another NYC coffee shop that doesn't believe is not blogger friendly. Their slogan should be: Not doing wifi. One blogger at a time.

I approached hipster barista, subject number 3. 

"Hey, do y'a'll have wifi?"

With a half cocked "I'm way more cool than you" smirk, he said "No honey, we do not."

Is today groundhog's day? Am I missing something blatantly obvious?

"Ok, can you recommend a coffee shop nearby that allows laptops and has wifi? I felt like a complete moron. An obvious not-from-around-here-laptop-junkie.

"I mean, I think Burbon Coffee, around the corner, has it. "

Around the corner. Here we go again. At least it has a cool name. 

New York City landscape and street photography.NYC black and white landscapes. Even if it was freezing, New York has incredible photo opportunities! Just look up!

A few minutes later, there it was. As if beckoning me from another realm, a sign. "Free wi-fi." I must admit, I am quite embarrassed with my triumphant victory. I guess you just had to be there to fully appreciate it. 

New York City landscape and street photography.Bourbon Coffee, New York CityA New York City coffee shop for bloggers!

To my surprise, I entered into a super cool, large coffee shop and eatery with heat, wifi and laptops. Not to mention a slew of power extension cords. An hour later, I had arrived.

New York City landscape photography. New York City winter skies. In NYC, just look up for amazing landscape photography opps!

Dear Chelsea,

It's me, wifi.





(Abi Fields) Joshua tree national park budget travel camera hiking holiday how to milky way new york new york city new york city landscape photography new york city photographer photography star https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/3-of-New-York-Citys-worst-coffee-shops-for-bloggers Thu, 12 Feb 2015 19:28:00 GMT
10 Killer Places to Camp in California: Day 2 https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/10-killer-places-to-camp-in-california Day 2: Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite

Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CaliforniaJumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CaliforniaCalifornia Christmas camping in the Mojave Desert. Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park.


Initially, we had planned to hit the road bright and early and head towards Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. We figured roughly 4 ½ hours of drive time north, but the group unanimously voted to spend the daylight hiking Joshua Tree National Park and to arrive at Sequoia later in the evening.  We couldn’t have been happier! Our first hike was the Split Rock Trail. By 11am the desert sun was on our side and it couldn’t have been better hiking weather- 44 degrees! The 2.1 mile loop hike led us up and over and around incredible rock formations that date back more than 3 million years! We passed beautiful, you guessed it, Joshua Trees, juniper and Mojave yucca! (History here from the park page)

It was relatively not crowded and we got fantastic views of courageous rock climbers! An hour and a half later, we wanted more and dropped by the Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms. The ranger recommended the hike to the desert oasis and we were immediately curious. The 49 Palms Oasis Trail is a moderate hike- the first part is an uphill switchback to the top of the pass, downhill to the oasis, then the same trail back. At 3 miles and 3 hours round trip, we made great time and were able to enjoy the aww and wonder of the enormous palm trees in the desert oasis. It was quite incredible to hike for 40 minutes over a barren dusty trail only to be greeted by the biggest, most lush palm tree community I have ever seen! Sitting there at the floor of the desert, was a massive sprawling oasis. It was mind boggling! After a quick snack break we were on the road in search of the grand Sequoia!


Hiking Advice: Looking for a not-so-touristy-but-badass-hike? Ask a ranger to recommend their favorite, off-the-beaten-path hike and you will be pleasantly surprised!  Be sure to mention, not-so-touristy!

(Abi Fields) 2. "christmas" Beach camping California Best camping California California camping California national parks Camping Camping California Camping California coast Camping sites Camping southern California Joshua tree Joshua tree camping Joshua tree national park Winter camping California budget travel california camera camping sites hiking holiday milky way photography san Francisco star star gazing travel winter camping https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/10-killer-places-to-camp-in-california Wed, 11 Feb 2015 03:27:17 GMT
10 Killer Places to camp in California: Day 1 https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/best-places-camping-in-california-national-park Day 1 of California Camping: Joshua Tree National Park:

Last Christmas, my spouse and I decided to be somewhat adventurous (this is normal for us) and we leapt at the opportunity to experience the best camping in California National Parks. My Nikon D800 was out for repair, so I scooped up a bargain priced Sony Alpha a7 full-frame, mirrorless camera, (huge bonus for shopping post-Christmas) and couldn't wait to take it for a test drive! First stop: Joshua Tree National Park!

The holiday travel began in Lake Arrowhead with our family so we booked our return ticket for January 5th out of San Francisco (SFO). Knowing we had to be in San Francisco for our flight home to Asheville, we came up with a rough itinerary that included a huge loop throughout California’s best winter camping sites. We are National Park junkies, so naturally we wanted to cover as many National Parks as possible. We had 8 nights to camp and unlimited miles on the rental. Cory’s cousin Chris and his girlfriend Jade decided to join us on the adventure and let me tell ya- a Dodge Avenger can get quite cozy with camping gear for four people! We prefer to have a rough agenda with options of where we’d like to camp, but we’ve found that the best approach is to just go with the flow. Our plan? Do one. Big. Loop.

I know, you’re probably thinking, there’s no such thing as winter in Southern California. I thought the exact same thing unit we spent our first night camping in the high Mojave Desert at Joshua Tree National Park. Secondly, yes, I thought there was only one tree, and that that one tree was so big and so majestic, they had no choice, but to name an entire park after him. Horribly wrong! California can be damn cold in the winter and the tree called Joshua has a lot of relatives.

Panorama Sunset, Joshua Tree National ParkPanorama Sunset, Joshua Tree National ParkCalifornia Christmas Camping, Sunset over the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree National Park

We left our cozy Lake Arrowhead cabin on Dec 27th and after 3 ½ hours of windshield time, arrived! The temp on the dash showed 43 degrees and the passengers showed signs of being smashed in between packs and food bags for 3 hours too long. Antsy to get out and enjoy the last hours of daylight, but just as antsy to find an open campsite, we stumbled upon Jumbo Rocks Campground. Upon passing our first few campgrounds, it quickly dawned on me- we weren’t the only ones who thought of a post-christmas camping adventure! The park was packed!

There is a secret we have picked up in regards to first come first serve campgrounds. First, just because the sign says “campground full,” doesn’t mean it is! Because these campgrounds operate on an honor system (fill out a site reservation card and drop your fee in the box) people tend to leave behind their site cards when they leave. Translation: check the site cards for a departure date, the site could be open! You do have to be committed to checking every site and the time to do this can be lengthy, but the process works wonders. Within five minutes, we found a fantastic site that was private and backed up next to, yup you guessed it, Jumbo Rocks (and apparently, one of the park’s most popular campgrounds)! This was California camping at its finest!


Cory and I did a firewood run (about a 15 minute drive to the town of Twentynine Palms) while Chris and Jade pitched the tents. We did a short hike up to sweeping panorama views and were blown away by the sunset. If you are looking for a mind-blowing photography opportunity, and colors and views that will leave you speechless, this is the campground for you!

The bitter desert chill found us sooner than we anticipated with the overnight lows hovering around 24 degrees! (I'd take it any day over summer highs in the 100s!) The jet-black skies offered unpolluted views of the Milky Way and the stars seemed to stretch to infinity! The ultimate time to view and photograph the Milky Way is under a new moon. Grab your camera and head to Arch Rock, Skull Rock or the Indian Cove Campground. Or, look just look up! A whopping 29 percent of Joshua Tree visitors come just for views of the night sky! Thankfully, we were all prepared from a gear perspective and had a warm night’s sleep that was preceded by a beautiful serenade from the wolves. Success with our first night of California winter camping!

Sunset in Joshua Tree National Park, CaliforniaSunset in Joshua Tree National Park, CaliforniaSunset photography at Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Gear Advice: Weather-sealed 3 season tent with rain-fly (4 season if you can afford it), lowest degree rated sleeping bag (mine was 15 degrees and I didn’t lose any toes), wool long johns, well basically wool everything! If you don’t want your water to explode, grab a HydroFlask water bottle. I picked mine up for $25 at Diamond Brand Outdoors in Asheville, but REI carries them as well. 

Camera Advice: Cigarette powered DC-AC adapter. Got mine at Best Buy for $45. Spare battery, weather coverage- I stuffed my gear inside a stuff sack then kept it inside the tent at night to avoid the possibility of damage due to extreme weather exposure.

Editing Advice: If you haven't heard of BlogStomp, I highly recommend it! For $49, it allows you to upload images, create amazing layouts, AND it does all of the resizing magic so that your images look their best on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. 

(Camping update: Feb 12, 2015): Info from Joshua Tree National Park's Facebook page: "If you arrive at the park and all designated campsites are occupied, a night in Joshua Tree National Park’s backcountry might be the perfect solution. Backcountry camping does require more planning and preparation, but can be an incredibly rewarding experience. 

Stop by any backcountry board located throughout the park in order to pick up and submit the FREE backcountry camping permit. Completely fill out the form, and follow all instructions before setting off into the wild. Your backcountry camp must be located at least one mile from any road and 500 feet from trails. Pets are not permitted on trails or in the backcountry. Campfires are also prohibited.

Leave No Trace ethics should be followed when traveling through the park. This means: pack it in, pack it out and select a campsite on a durable surface in order to protect sensitive vegetation.

For more information about camping in Joshua Tree National Park’s backcountry, visit http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/backpacking.htm "


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(Abi Fields) "Joshua Beach camping California Best camping California California camping California camping sites California national parks Camping Camping California Camping California coast Camping sites Camping southern California Joshua Joshua tree Joshua tree camping Joshua tree hiking Joshua tree music festival Joshua tree national park camping Joshua tree national park map Jumbo rocks campground Winter camping Winter camping California Winter camping gear Winter camping tips abi fields photography asheville wedding photographer budget travel california camera camping sites christmas francisco hiking holiday milky way national park" photography san star star gazing travel tree wedding winter camping https://www.abifields.com/blog/2015/2/best-places-camping-in-california-national-park Tue, 10 Feb 2015 03:34:00 GMT
NC Gay Marriage https://www.abifields.com/blog/2014/10/nc-gay-marriage NC GAY MARRIAGE: Oct 10, 2014

            Let’s face it, change is happening! And by that I mean, love is in the air. The battle for marriage equality has been long and as a child of the ‘80s born in rural Texas, I never thought I would see the day. When my partner and I got engaged two years ago, we had many inequalities and tough decisions ahead of us. Getting married, legally, in NC was not an option. Neither was Texas. In the midst of our excitement and discussions of our future, there was frustration- at our legal system, and for their ability to say our love was unconstitutional. Amendment One was handed down and it was a huge defeat for the LGBTQ community in NC.

            We decided to do a destination wedding at the Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach, OR (yes, home of the Goonies)! Cory’s parents, based out of Portland, generously offered their unconditional support and love for our marriage, and gay marriage was on the upcoming agenda in OR. To our surprise, it passed in OR a month before our big day! We were ecstatic! Just another sign from the universe that it was meant to be. (I’m an optimist, to say the least).

I had never dreamed of a wedding, let alone a legal one. But lingering in the back of our minds was reality: we’d be returning to a place that didn’t recognize our union.

It was Friday, Oct 10th and we were getting ready for date night when the group texts and Facebook updates started pouring in. “Gay marriage passed!” “Equality for NC.” There had been news about the potential for it passing the previous few days, but unfortunately we were skeptical.

It felt like it literally happened over night! Less than two months ago, we were on our honeymoon. Again, we were ecstatic!

    “This is the best date night ever,” we told each other!

 As a LGBTQ wedding photographer, I was elevated. History is being re-written, as it rightfully should be and to be a part of it is priceless.

Monday, October 13th was the first full day of NC Gay Marriage. Cory and I loaded up the camera gear and were at the County Deeds Office by 9am. We spent the entire day meeting beautiful families and participating in their love and excitement.

We were surrounded by loving ministers and officiants, beaming parents and friends. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville provided free ceremonies for most of the day- an entire community came together in love and with open arms.

Just when I thought the day couldn’t be more spectacular, I got a text from our friend Becky, “Hey we should be at the Deed’s Office by 1:30.” We knew they were planning on getting married, but didn’t know we’d be there to capture it! I followed them back to the Deed’s counter and shot away as they vowed to one another. It was incredible! Then at 4:30, we headed to the Unitarian Church for their ceremony. They were surrounded by their parents, siblings and a beautiful crowd of support.

When working with couples, I always ask them to tell me their love story. How did they meet? How long have they been together?

In Becky and Amie’s words,here is their beautiful story:

“Amie and I met about six and half years ago oddly enough, through my mom.  She worked with Amie's neighbor at the time in Catawba, NC.  We'd love to hear the details of that conversation, but the result was Amie and I exchanging contact information.  We spoke on the phone for many hours at night while Amie was on vacation with her mom and step-dad who lived in Asheville.  When they returned to town Amie and I finally met, and the connection was instant! Amie lived in Catawba for a few more months, so we would travel back and forth to see each other as often as possible.  Eventually, she moved to Asheville, and we've been inseparable ever since! We knew that we were meant for one another within the first couple of weeks, and have wanted to get married for years.  The question for us, was whether to travel to another state or wait until North Carolina finally came around.  We eventually decided that we wanted to wait until our home state recognized us as fully equal citizens.  We wanted to be one of the first couples to legally marry in North Carolina, so once the decision came down on October 10th, we scrambled to get our family here to celebrate with us.  We applied for our marriage license on Monday October, the 13th, and had a short ceremony at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Asheville a couple of hours later.  It was a beautiful, love filled day that we will always remember! We're so happy to be married, and are so thankful to all of the people that paved the way!”

For us to love is to be free. Congratulations, North Carolina!



(Abi Fields) abi fields photography asheville LGBT asheville gay photographer asheville wedding photographer asheville wedding videography best wedding photographer digital film gay marriage gay photographer asheville light photography wedding who is the best photographer in north carolina https://www.abifields.com/blog/2014/10/nc-gay-marriage Fri, 10 Oct 2014 05:37:00 GMT
Ashlie + Josh: Lake Eden Events, Black Mountain, NC: 9/20/14 https://www.abifields.com/blog/2014/9/ashlie-josh-lake-eden-events-black-mountain-nc-9/20/14 As a wedding photographer, and a newly wed myself, there is nothing more exciting than having the opportunity to capture two close friend’s big day!

For the past year I have been patiently awaiting Ashlie and Josh’s wedding-especially because I have had the pleasure of watching their relationship grow and blossom over the past few years. I first met Josh through one of his closest friends, Pierce, when he was living in North Asheville and Ashlie, in Charlotte. I had recently moved to Asheville from Austin and as luck would have it, I was in need of an investment broker and Josh just happened to be established with Edward Jones. We hit it off immediately.

Because of the long distance, Ashlie and Josh took turns driving to see each other on the weekends. He spoke frequently about how much he wanted her to move to Asheville and it was obvious how much he cared about her. After a year, I finally had the chance to meet Ashlie at their engagement shoot. I knew right away why Josh cared about her so much- she was kind, warm-hearted and down-to-earth. Not to mention, beautiful!

We met at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville about an hour before sunset. (That magical hour that we photographers hold so dear!) We chatted for a while on the back patio- a stunning view of the mountains as our backdrop. Before we knew it, hours had passed and we were still shooting! They are both carefree and open-minded- a photographer’s dream couple!

The dress

This past Saturday, I arrived at the Lake Eden Events Center in Black Mountain, NC around 2:30. I wasn’t due to start shooting until 3:30, but the photographer in me wanted to get in as many moments as possible. It was my first wedding at Lake Eden, and when I arrived the day before for a walk-through of the venue, I was blown away! Between the tree-lined lakes, rolling green hills and panoramic mountain views, it couldn’t have been more serene. The weather was unbelievably perfect- blue skies and 75 degrees!

Walking down the aisle. So much love!

I met up with Ashlie and the bridal party first. There was a joyful presence in their cabin- Ashlie was in curlers, eyes resting, as her friend and stylist, Darren Gillian, began applying her makeup. (He did an outstanding job!) Everyone was welcoming and made me feel a part of the group. I stayed with them until 3:30, made sure I had captured the essentials- getting ready, the dress and jewelry, and Ashlie putting on her gorgeous gown. I texted Josh to let him know I was on my way up to the Hilltop and arrived to find five of the most handsome men! They were sharp and classy in linen suits. I favored the touch of turquoise as it was also my wedding color. We headed out to the hillside for candid group shots. I almost didn’t recognize Pierce- it was the first time I had seen him without a beard!

“Hey Abi, it’s me, Pierce!” We both laughed at the striking confusion a little facial hair can cause.

The wedding party was scheduled to convene outside of the bridal cabin at 4:00pm so I jumped in the car and headed back down the hill. The girls looked amazing and Ashlie was breathtaking! After meeting the flower girl, Josh’s niece, I immediately fell in love.

I was wearing a dress with hip cowgirl boots and she looked down at them, then up at me and said, “Why are you wearing those shoes?” Her mother and I had a deep belly laugh and I said, “Well, so I can do this,” and I improvised a short heel-to- toe dance for her. She really enjoyed that!

Then it was show time! It was 4:30, and because I was shooting solo, I moved purposely and quickly throughout the 16-minute outdoor ceremony. The violinist, Reanna Myers Franklin, was captivating and the ceremony was perfect! Sweet Bouquets Florist created stunning hanging jars of bright flowers that accented the end of each aisle. As Josh and Ashlie began their vows, her dog (who was sitting with the other guests), started barking at me as I snuck down the middle of the two rows! Everyone got a chuckle out of that and I telepathically sent it requests to not bark! Then out of nowhere, a larger dog came trotting up the aisle towards her dog and me. I had to get a shot of that!

After the family and bridal party shots, a golf cart arrived to take the three of us to the lake front for bride and groom pictures. We were greeted by weeping willows and perfect reflections of the mountains off the lake. (A photographer’s dream)! We then took the short walk up to the Barns for the reception and a few more shots. They were announced and greeted by family and friends and a million bubbles.

It was a great reception- live music by local artists, Walrus, love abound and a packed barn! Johnnie’s Catering did a phenomenal job on dinner and I met multiple generations from both sides of the family whom were all so welcoming and kind. I felt like a part of the family!


I know it may be cliché to have a “favorite wedding,”,but this one is way up there!  

Professional considerations for wedding photographers:

1) Second shooters are mandatory! Think different angles, lenses, perspectives, personalities and the ability to be in multiple locations at once.

2) Always do a walk-through of the venue the day before, preferably at the rehearsal. If possible, do so with the couple and place them in various lighting scenarios to gauge available light. This will help you prepare lighting equipment. Ask yourself: Should there be more professional lighting provided in the reception area by the venue/planner? If the reception ceilings are higher than 15-20 feet, bouncing the flash will not be an option.

3) Scout possible backdrops and shaded areas for the bride-and-groom portraits. Have your camera and get a metering with them in the frame. Be prepared for a shift in cloud coverage and rain.

4) Make sure you have the day’s timeline of events days or even a week prior to the wedding. Have the important times set as reminders in your calendar and carry a hard copy. (First dance, mother-son/ father-daughter dance, cake-cutting, etc.)

5) Technology-free ceremony and guests’ camera flash: When I consult with my clients, I encourage and over-encourage them to consider asking the guests to refrain from use of cell phone and/or cameras during the ceremony. Firstly, the guests are truly able to be present in the moment and in the celebration. Secondly, there is nothing worse than getting ready to press the shutter button for “the kiss” or the first dance only to have Uncle Joe stand up and fire away with his point and shoot. If the flash is not coming from my team, or me, it will ruin my ability to do what my clients are paying me to do: capture beautiful and meaningful moments. I cannot do this successfully with interrupted, external light sources. 

6) Network with the vendors. Consider offering them digital copies that will highlight their area of expertise. Professional and detailed shots, such as the cake, bride’s hair and makeup, DJ or band and decorations can be valuable marketing tools for vendors. It can promote word-of-mouth referrals as well.

7) Know when and where you will do the bridal, group, groom, and family portraits. Don’t be afraid to jump in the car and drive the couple a few minutes away from the distractions of family and guests. The more relaxed and comfortable they are, the more natural the photographs.

8) Properly expose and get to know your histogram. Consider a hand-held light meter. Whatever you do, do not, I repeat, do not, blow out the dress! Turn on highlights notification.

9) Dress professionally and get there at least an hour before you begin shooting.

10) Have fun!


(Abi Fields) abi fields photography asheville wedding photographer asheville wedding venue barn bride ceremony digital film first dance gay wedding photographer groom lake eden light photography portait top wedding photographer top wedding venue asheville wedding wedding cake wedding photographer wedding ring who is the best photographer in north carolina https://www.abifields.com/blog/2014/9/ashlie-josh-lake-eden-events-black-mountain-nc-9/20/14 Fri, 26 Sep 2014 23:58:08 GMT
My Tackle Box https://www.abifields.com/blog/2014/4/how-to-become-a-professional-photographer I’m stubborn. Some would call it hard-headed. Grandpa called it witty. He was also known to say “did you hear that bear snort?” during childhood hikes at the ranch when he farted. Sometimes it was a deer snort, but most days it was a bear. (One of the two was more prevalent than the other in the Texas Hill Country).

Regardless, he was gold.  The importance is not so much as to what side of truth he accompanied, but simply that he taught me how to find joy in the unknown. 

“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Thank you grandpa.

My siblings and I on grandpa's porch. Circa 1989. The tackle box was to the right of the door, always. I'm wearing the loafers!

Not only was he witty, he was meticulous. About everything. The golden fishing rule of his ranch was you can only go into the tackle box with me. My 25 or so first cousins and I learned early on what fate was to be had in breaking the rule. No fishing for a month!


Every lure had its place. Organized by color, size, shape and rubber vs non rubber, he knew the contents like the back of his hand.  As an adult I see it as a “countrified” version of the hotel mini-fridge.


Even the slightest touch to a bottle results in motion sensor feedback.

And, of course, an unfavorable consequence. 

Back to the camera. My first memory involved my tall tale-telling Grandpa.  He owned a Kodak Star 110. It is rectangular shaped film camera with one button, and one button only. 


He kept it spotless. Pristine. His pride in it, and in taking photographs, contrasted sharped with the family’s impatience with him when he used it. Posing for Grandpa’s photos meant time. Waiting. More time. He’d hide behind it as he framed, focused, re-focused, changed angles and tamed the light. As a child it irritated me!

I wasn't alone. With a big family there was never less than 10 people hunched together contorting and bending so he could "see every face." And the whole time we all complained "“What takes so long to take a picture?! Seriously, it’s not that difficult! Come on, Grandpa/Dad/Ted!”

This scenario was a constant companion as I progressed through sports, band recitals, holidays and high school graduation.  I couldn’t escape it! At every turn, there it was; Grandpa taking forever to take a picture.  His “inability” to take a photo in less than five minutes became a legacy joke in our family. The more we poked fun, the longer he would take. (I could write an entire blog about how long it took him to cook (aka burn) brisket!)

People ask me all the time “How did you get into photography?” or “How long have you been doing it?” Standard inquiries in the photography business. If only I didn’t need an entire blog post to answer it!

I didn’t grow up with much but I did grow up with disposable, affordable, cameras. Thank you Kodak! We all have the “funny friend,” the “opinionated friend” and then there was me… the “funny camera friend.” I took photos of everything, everywhere.

I wasn’t fortunate enough for an allowance so I did what every other small-town Texas boy did. I mowed lawns. Enough mowed lawns to afford my addiction to disposable film cameras and Wal-Mart photo processing. I canvassed door-to-door in Johnson City, Texas; selling fresh cut lawns instead of smelly shoes in briefcases.  Me and grandpa at the ranchOne of the last photos taken of us.


My grandparents passed away, three years apart from each other, both from lung cancer. It’s only now, at 33, that what I once viewed as Grandpa’s wit (Grandpa’s idiosyncrasies) is in fact the inspiration and foundation behind my photography. I understand and appreciate the time he took to get every photo “just right.” I applaud him in his precision and unwavering focus. I see him in me.







I’ve learned his style of writing with light, which is this:

1)   A photo is not just a photo

2)   It is an experience

3)   It is emotion

4)   The moment, that exact moment, will never happen again

5)   Write like you mean it

6)   Have fun and be witty

7)   Protect your tackle box

(Abi Fields) asheville wedding photographer asheville wedding venue asheville wedding videographer box camera digital film fishing how do i start a travel blog how do i travel the world how to get paid to travel how to travel on a budget kodak light nikon photo photography ranch tackle https://www.abifields.com/blog/2014/4/how-to-become-a-professional-photographer Mon, 21 Apr 2014 21:36:36 GMT