Update on Life

Ever since my Masters program began, I have not been very faithful to posting on this blog. My apologies! I would like to put some plan into place, but as you know in your own life, certain priorities take precedence over others and unfortunately this blog is not necessarily required for daily life. Although I would argue to say that this blog does help me in many ways, like processing ideas, getting my work out there, and interacting with other creatives. 

So what have I been up to since my last blogpost (in November?!)? A lot!

My first semester of grad life is down in the books. I had a scare though--I didn't realize there was a huge grading difference between the State's and the UK and let's just say I had a mini-heart attack when I first saw my grade. Fortunately an academic adviser contacted me to explain the system and made everything clearer for me. Although when I look at my final grade, I still feel like I didn't do well. After 16 years of using one system, it's hard to wrap your mind around what is good and not. Apparently I did do well, so I'll take their word for it. :)

We celebrated Christmas and New Years. I purposefully stepped back from grad work after the course ended and tried to enjoy the festivities. It was a lot of fun, although so different than celebrating in the State's. Sometimes I enjoy celebrating in a culture that doesn't widely celebrate Christmas because it really makes you consider why you're celebrating in the first place. While I missed family and friends, I'm glad we were here!

Trying to catch up on neglected tasks and projects. After my program ended there was so much I needed to catch up on and do (i.e. email!). I'm slowly getting through everything, but as you know, there is always more work to do. 

Photographically speaking, this break I didn't do much other than personal pictures of the holiday's. What I would like to share are some images from my portfolio in progress for my program. These are towards my project on Fatherhood. 

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully I can begin regularly posting again soon!

-Ashley

Final Project Progression

My project has been progressing well. I met with the professor for the course two nights ago and it was a very encouraging tutorial for me in many ways.

One of the things I was struggling with was how to take such a big project and break it down into bite size pieces. What was suggested to me by both the professor and the teaching adviser was that I make mini-projects for each module, breaking the project into smaller size goals, rather than one large project.

For this first module, I’ve decided I’m going to focus on the “Faces of Fatherhood”–a small mini-project where I will be photographing different fathers with their children. In this mini-project I’m hoping to discover about what fatherhood looks like by taking images of men and their children. I’m wanting to rid myself of my personal view of fatherhood, if I’m able, by being an observer in this society. Kind of like this picture below, you can see what I’m talking about:

The images might vary, but the general idea is to just catch a glimpse of what fatherhood/fathers looks like here.

I also was challenged in my project to not become universal in how I create this project. While I think fundamentally that humanity has many similarities just by the nature of how we were created in God’s image, it would be tragic of me to simplify the differences between cultures, reducing the value of the nuances and beauty that makes us all different from other nations. I felt this was really sound advice and something I want to be careful of.

Overall, I’m pleased where this project is headed and looking forward to what I uncover and learn in the process.

Commissioned Micro Project

In my class, we were given the assignment to pair up with another student in order to commission that student to create a piece of work. This is the brief Andrey commissioned me to do:

BRIEF: Is this really South Asia?

Can you create a series of images taken in your city that will very likely look decidedly non-South Asian in the eyes of most viewers. So no women in saris or men in Sikh headdresses or Ambassador cabs. It can be places, street scenes, people, or buildings that most will not likely associate with this area.

It was a fun micro-project that really made me think twice about the process of creating a body of work. Here's what I came up with! If you want to read the process I went through to create this micro project, you can find it here on my critical research journal for my class.

Opening in most large cities, fancy shopping areas are places to escape the heat and enjoy clean, air conditioned shopping without the hassle of markets.

Opening in most large cities, fancy shopping areas are places to escape the heat and enjoy clean, air conditioned shopping without the hassle of markets.

In a land where "Chai" (tea) is normally the hot beverage of choice, coffee is a new phenomenon that is gathering a following.

In a land where "Chai" (tea) is normally the hot beverage of choice, coffee is a new phenomenon that is gathering a following.

Franchises from other countries, like Cinnabon, have successful debuts, allowing other nations to enjoy something new and different.

Franchises from other countries, like Cinnabon, have successful debuts, allowing other nations to enjoy something new and different.

Exercise is a growing value that's drawing both men and women, working out in the same space—a taboo idea that makes some still feel uncomfortable.

Exercise is a growing value that's drawing both men and women, working out in the same space—a taboo idea that makes some still feel uncomfortable.

Sari's and Shalwar Kameez aren’t the only chosen dress for South Asians anymore—Western clothes are accessible and an acceptable clothing choice that many prefer to wear.

Sari's and Shalwar Kameez aren’t the only chosen dress for South Asians anymore—Western clothes are accessible and an acceptable clothing choice that many prefer to wear.

Thanks for taking a look! Hope you have a great weekend!

-Ashley

Perspectives

I've wrote about the idea of "perspectives" on my blog before, but I think it's worth bringing up again.

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Finding images that are interesting around us is fairly easy to do. Just like this boat I came across in Thailand a couple years back, I saw it and was so excited. I loved the colors and have even posted images of it before. 

However, what happens if I would have stopped just there? The above shot is nice, but it's good to get different perspectives by walking around your subject. 

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO-500

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO-500

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/250 sec, ISO-100

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/250 sec, ISO-100

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

There are so many details that I would have missed if I would have just taken that first shot and walked on. All that to say, if you have the opportunity to take time on your subject, shoot away! Changing your perspective, whether that's walking to the left or right or getting higher/lower can completely change the image. 

This week I had a micro project that is about the topic of perspectives in my photography class and it's been really challenging. The topic is "Is this really South Asia?". The idea is to take images that one would not normally associate with this area of the world. I'm compiling the images today and will post them here tomorrow! This program keeps me on my toes!

Hope you've had a great week!

-Ashley

How's it Going?

Well, almost two months ago I blogged that I'd be starting my MA in Photography and I haven't given an update at all in my progress and how it's going. 

The program has been excellent. I have proficient teachers, a diverse cohort, and challenging material/projects. I've had to wrestle with concepts in photography related to my practice that I've never had to think about before. These topics are a variety of things--like the ethics of photography, photography being global, collaboration, etc. All the topics have been perfect for what I needed to work through and I didn't even realize it beforehand! All this to say, I'm extremely grateful for the program.

While there are certain things we have to do in the course of this program, the main one is our proposed project, which we have to complete by the end of the program. I think I've settled on my proposed project, which is a project on fathers and their children. I'm hoping to take assumptions of fathers and their relationship with their children and show actually what it's like where I live, hoping to break some of those stereotypes that exist. I have much to flesh out, but I'm excited about what I'll learn from this!! I'll post more about this as I discover more!

"After completing the collection of grass for hay, this man utilizes his bicycle to deliver the goods." Canon 5D Mark II; 85mm f/1.8  |  f/3.2, 1/250 sec, ISO-500

"After completing the collection of grass for hay, this man utilizes his bicycle to deliver the goods."

Canon 5D Mark II; 85mm f/1.8  |  f/3.2, 1/250 sec, ISO-500

That's all for now, but one more thing to note is that my plan is to begin blogging again, so be looking out for most posts. It won't be daily like before, but my goal is around 4 times a week. We'll see how it goes. :)

Have a great week!

Ashley

New Aspects of Culture

One fun thing about living in another culture is being able to experience new aspects of that culture which are very foreign to you. Such as this man above, selling powder to make beautiful designs. I had never seen this before! The circular looking items to the right are stencils that help you create the design almost flawlessly. 

I learned that these particular designs are called, "Rangoli", and is used during many festivals here. The powder is made from rice (or other materials, like flour) and you can find many colors--all being very bright! 

I thought they were really beautiful. Many of the shops we passed actually had designs like these on the side of steps in front of their building. I don't understand all the cultural meanings or implications, but it was something very unique for us to discover while we were out shopping the other day!

I sometimes wonder about what I think is normal in the State's that other cultures would consider fascinating. Just like Rangoli designs, this is something they do on a yearly basis--so while it's probably special, it's still common enough to know about and to not think of it's uniqueness. I imagine if I thought hard enough, I would be able to come up with many holidays, customs, and events Americans perform that would be strange or unique to other places.

All this to say, you don't have to live in an "exotic" place to capture interesting photos. I encourage you to go out today and to think critically about your life situation. What is unique? What is special? What do I think is "normal" that other places would see as interesting? Capture those photos and see what comes of it! Send me a link in the comments section if you go out--I'd love to see your work.

-Ashley

Time Flies By....

...when you have so much to do! :) I know that's not how the saying goes, but that's really my life these last couple of weeks. Since I posted 17 days ago (!!) I have been so busy with my class that started and normal life activities that I haven't had the chance to post any personal blog posts! Today I thought I needed to post something

To give an update, my class is awesome! It's incredibly challenging and I'm already learning a lot about my own photography practice and what I'm passionate about. It's been great. I thought I would be posting my thoughts and lessons learned here on this blog, but we've been asked to create a separate blog that would only include our studies. I plan to actually re-post on this website some of the blogposts that are interesting. If you want to follow that blog and see every post, you can find it here. However, do know that it will be more academic in nature, especially since I will be speaking about my studies and concepts, rather than what's going on in my life. However, I think the posts will be equally as interesting, as it will be coming from a different perspective than what I normally come from. 

Now, time for some photos to be posted! These photos have been seriously delayed (taken in July and now just being posted). Regardless, they're fun to post!

These are fireworks pictures from the last 4th of July, right before we returned overseas. My Mom, younger sister, and I went to a park and had a great view. These were all taken with my 85mm f/1.8. 

Canon 5D Mark II; 80mm f/1.8  |  f/22, ISO-320, 2 sec shutter

Canon 5D Mark II; 80mm f/1.8  |  f/22, ISO-320, 2 sec shutter

These are all handheld (forgot my tripod!), so I'm surprised they came out, especially since my shutter speed was so slow! 

Canon 5D Mark II; 80mm f/1.8  |  f/22, ISO-160, 2.5 sec shutter

Canon 5D Mark II; 80mm f/1.8  |  f/22, ISO-160, 2.5 sec shutter

Canon 5D Mark II; 80mm f/1.8  |  f/22, ISO-160, 2.5 sec shutter

Canon 5D Mark II; 80mm f/1.8  |  f/22, ISO-160, 2.5 sec shutter

This last one I had some fun with. I turned the camera in circles during the entire exposure and came out with this! The last 4th of July, I did this the entire time. I sometimes get bored with normal firework pictures. You can see some of the creative photos that came out of that by clicking here. It was fun. :)

I'll be posting some of the things I'm learning in my class here soon! Have a great Monday!

-Ashley

Exciting News!

I'll just get right to the exciting news! :)

After a lot of praying, counsel from mentors, research, and thinking, I've decided to begin....drum roll please....an MA in Photography!

**I AM SO EXCITED!**

Giggling incessantly, my nephew Zachary is showing the excitement I feel for this program! Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/1250 sec, ISO-400  |  Houston, TX USA

Giggling incessantly, my nephew Zachary is showing the excitement I feel for this program!
Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/1250 sec, ISO-400  |  Houston, TX USA

This is something I have wanted to do for such a long time and the timing has always been off. I love teaching, interacting with students, doing personal projects, etc. and I really felt that this would enhance my work as a photographer and allow me to teach even more proficiently than before. 

I'm gaining my masters through Falmouth University, which is ranked one of the top arts university in the UK (!!!). They began this year a Flexible Learning program, where students can gain a masters level degree in an art field online.  The program I'm enrolled in is part time (15-20 hours/week) and completed over a two year period. You can read about the program here!

One thing I love about this program, is that it's focused on the student and their practice. It's not about learning photography skills (which I'm sure I will learn more during this process), but the focus is on improving your practice of photography in the field you're already working in or hoping to move forward in. They're also offering four optional residencies, where you can visit the event taking place and meet faculty and other fellow students in person. I don't think I'll make it to all four, but I do plan to try for at least one.

There are so many things I want to accomplish during this time and I'm so excited about the possibilities. I'm also thrilled to work on my final project, which I already have great ideas for! 

That's the exciting news! I'm sure through this process I will be posting photos, concepts, ideas, projects, and the like on my blog. I will not be able to continue my photo of the day project, but I will still be posting a few times a week!

Thanks for following me through this process! Excited to share it with you.

-Ashley