Look Up!

If you follow my personal Instagram account you’ll notice that I tend to take a lot of pictures of ceilings and the sky. I don’t know why my eyes are drawn to it, but I notice the patterns, shapes, and colors. Like this one below:

 
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This was taken in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Behind me is the tallest building in the world (the Burj Khalifa), but I turned around and saw this building instead. :) This shows you my priorities! Anyways, I love the curves, the trees, the expansive sky, and all the lines. This is definitely what my eyes go towards!

I think one thing to glean from this though is to follow what you like to do and not what everyone else likes to do. Some people might have thought it strange that I was photographing the small building behind the Burj Khalifa, but it’s what my eyes were drawn to. I think it’s important to find your vision and calling and stick to it, even when it seems unconventional. Speaking of which, I have a blog post that I’m working on about this topic. Vision in whatever you create is so important, especially in light of how short our lives are. More to come on that soon!

-Ashley

Clarke & Elaina | Engagement Portrait

I had the pleasure recently to do an engagement shoot while traveling in Europe. It wasn’t planned and I haven’t shot an engagement shoot in a while, but I found the approach to this kind of portrait came back quickly. I forgot how much fun it is for me to capture couples interacting together. Honestly, it was a nice change from my masters project work on many levels! Below are some of my favorites from the shoot—enjoy!

 
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One thing I love about this top left image is the metaphor of getting married as “tying the knot” and the rope that is tied on the pole behind them.

They both have such great smiles and look so good together! They made my job easy. :)

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I love the way these came out and am so thankful it worked out for me to do their photos. Excited for you Clarke and Elaina! Thanks for including me in your beginnings as Mr. and Mrs.! :)

-Ashley

A Look Back to 2015

There are so many things I have wanted to do the last couple of years, but I kept putting it off because I just didn’t have enough time. One of those tasks was to polish the galleries on my website. There are many projects and events that I don’t have shown which could be valuable.

For example, after my exhibition at FCC University, the images were used for the university calendar—which was not only used by the school, but by several other entities around the country. It was an honor to me that they used my work! I still have a calendar for my recollection, but I never photographed it and put it online. Here is what the calendar looked like:

I enjoy looking back at the things I’ve been involved in, as it brings back memories to how doors were opened to do things I thought I’d never get to do. Personally, I was surprised when FCC commissioned me for the exhibition and subsequently used the images in their calendar. What a blessing! I am thankful for these opportunities and hope for more in the future.

What surprising opportunities are in your past that you were excited to partake in? I’d love to hear about it!

-Ashley

Looking for the Special Moments

It can be really hard to have tourist-like eyes in your own city. Finding interesting things to photograph can be a challenge, especially if you see the same things every day. A trick for me to get out of that funk is to walk around a specific place with my camera in hand; looking for interesting scenes—whether it be textures, symmetry, interesting faces, interactions that are peculiar, or something beautiful. There is always something worthy to be photographed—you just have to have the eyes to see it! Take this for example:

 
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We were walking in a market and I just happened to see this rug hung up on the wall with these colorful poufs underneath. I loved all the colors and how it looked, so I took the shot and this is what I got. It’s beautiful! I think I’d normally miss this if I didn’t slow down and look.

I think this goes beyond photography and can be applied to our lives in general. Sometimes we can get so busy that we miss the beautiful or surprising things or people throughout our day. I, myself, am trying to slow down and “smell the roses”, as the old adage goes. I don’t want to miss those special moments because I was preoccupied with a task or schedule. Life is too short friends, so don’t miss out on the important things.

On that sobering note (sorry for the reminder of our short lives!), I hope that in the normalcy of the day you look and find something or someone new in your path. Enjoy your day!

-Ashley

Ramblings on Identity

I have been thinking a lot about identity lately. If you’ve ready my blog posts, you will see that I have moved around a lot. In the last five years, I have lived in three different countries (four if you count the one I come from) and have traveled around the world. I have seen polar opposite cultures, from women fully covered to women practically naked, or from bustling urban cities to empty, wide-open country. Each place is so different.

Moving from culture to culture so fluidly can be jolting and confusing. One moment everyone is speaking a language you understand until a five-hour plane ride later, you’re in a completely different place, with not only a different language, but a different set of rules to how you live life. It’s mind-boggling.

Living in the US you don’t experience this as much. Of course, every state has it’s culture and way of life, but it doesn’t feel that different for an American, especially compared to traveling to a different country. Traveling on a three-to-four-hour flight across the States takes you to another place where English is spoken and the culture relatively the same. On the other side of the world however, a short plane ride can take you to exponentially different places. Places that contain people who see life very differently than you ever thought or imagined. It’s a wild contrast and with globalization and the ease of travel, it allows such a change in just a day.

These days the ease of traveling makes transitioning from place to place more difficult. I have realized now that I need a buffer before I head back to the States. My mind needs some kind of adjustment period where I exit the culture I’m living in and enter my home culture. This transition gets easier every time I do it, but it still is a challenge. It takes a bit to remember where I am and how I relate to people.

Why is it that culture affects identity and how we live our lives? I have found pieces of me change as I’ve lived in each place. From how I dress, to how I interact with men, to even how I spend my time has morphed in the last half decade. Culture seems to have a great impact on people more than one would think.

I am unsure where to go with all of these thoughts (and this is just scratching the surface), but I have plans to build a project around these ideas. I plan to introspectively take a look at my life and how I have changed over these last several years and how culture has had an effect on that. Some of the imagery might be self portraits, but I have some other ideas that I want to experiment with. I’d love it if you’d follow me on this journey and I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on identity, culture, and globalization as well.

In the coming days, I plan to map out my ideas and see how I can start fleshing this out photographically. If you want to share your ideas with me, please comment below or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I do plan on continuing my project over fatherhood. I still have much interest in the topic and I can’t imagine dropping it as I’ve become quite passionate about it. So keep following me on my Instagram, as that’s where I’ll mostly be posting from that project.

For now though, I leave you a photo from a recent trip to Rome. I had never been there before and I was quite enchanted by the city. It reminded me of other parts of Europe, but the more we explored, the more we realized how different and beautiful it is in its own way.

Have a great weekend!

-Ashley

 
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A Needed Break + Engagement Session

The last two weeks have been a breath of fresh air! Since finishing up my MA I have barely touched my camera, I haven't posted on my social media accounts until today, and I have not given much thought to really anything related to school or even photography. It's been freeing! I think somewhere in the back of my mind I'm expecting for the next module to begin soon....but it's not going to, so that will be an odd feeling. It's strange that something that has been a constant in my life the last two years is now complete. 

Even though I haven't been thinking about photography very much, while traveling recently I was able to do an engagement shoot. I have begun working on editing those and it has been a treat! I haven't done too many of these kinds of portrait sittings in the last two years--it's been mostly photo shoots for my project, which has a very different focus and feel to them. I found myself having to relearn how I did these kinds of sessions in the past. It came very quickly though and we had a blast doing the shoot together. I forget how much I enjoy these kinds of sessions. 

Here's a sneak peek of one of the photos:

 
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Soon, I am hoping I can begin diving into some new projects, but this break has really been needed. I'm unbelievably grateful for the opportunity of getting my MA in Photography--honestly I sometimes have to pinch myself that it actually happened. It's not every day that you get to pursue what you're passionate about, so I feel very fortunate. I also have great expectations for the future and what I will do with it. We'll see what pans out.

I'll be posting here more soon, so be on the lookout. 

-Ashley

(P.S. - If you're not following me already on Instagram, do so below! I have two Instagram accounts, one where I'm still posting images from Foreign Lands and the other one is my Transparent Life Photography Instagram account. Let's get connected!)

Foreign Lands: American Fathers Living Abroad:

 
 

Transparent Life Photography:

 
 

That's A Wrap!

I've been delaying this post because I was trying to let it sink in. 

I'm officially finished with my MA in Photography from Falmouth University!

I can't believe it. The last two years I have been so focused on finishing this MA that the time flew by. It has been my constant companion these two years, which has made the last few days feel awkward and empty. My schedule is now in need of an overhaul--one that doesn't include school. It's amazing and frightening at the same time!

Before I share what's next for me in the photography world, I want to celebrate the accomplishment and thank God and all of my family/friends for their support. I couldn't have done this without the countless dads who said yes to participating in my project, to my husband who made so many sacrifices (especially towards the end when I was in "do not disturb" mode), to all my amazing professors who encouraged and critiqued my work, and to all of my friends who have encouraged me to do this program. THANK YOU to all of you. What's amazing, is that I haven't just accomplished this MA, but have published a book! I am still in awe about that one and never thought I was capable of such a thing. I remember when I began this MA I had NO IDEA how I'd ever get to this point--but I did it. Whew. This is by far the hardest, yet most rewarding program I have ever done. Looking back, I can truly see how much I've changed--I am not the same as I was when I started. I feel more refined and certain about who I am as a photographer and how I operate within my practice. So all this to say, I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had and can't wait to see how it helps me in the coming future. I'm sad to see it go, but I'm thankful I made it through (although I won't know if I officially made it through until mid-September when I get my grades...but I'm pretty positive I passed; we'll see).

Moving on to the future, what's next? Several people have asked me that over the last few days and while I was trying not to rush to the next thing, I have thought a lot about it (of course!). Here are some of my ideas:

  • I am uncertain of the name of this project, but I really want to dive into my identity as a nomad. For the last five years I have lived abroad and it's really changed me. How I see people, culture, and situations are different than before--especially my home culture. So I really would love to do a project that communicates that change within me and I'd love to explore what has changed and how it has changed. It's a lot of self reflection and introspective thinking, but ideally I want to create images that reflect on my reflections about my life and thoughts, looking at expatriates and what happens to them when the live in other cultures. It's very different than my project over fatherhood, but I think it would be interesting to see what comes of it. I have some ideas technically how I'd accomplish this project, but I'll divulge those later. :)
 
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  • My project Foreign Lands: American Fathers Living Abroad is still active and going. I would like to keep up my Instagram account, so I will continue to post there. I also would love to continue in the theme of fatherhood--I've become very passionate about the topic and don't want to stop looking at dads. I've thought of doing other projects that look at other nationalities living abroad (like South African's or British dads maybe?), creating a series of books along the same topic. These are just some ideas, nothing is set yet. Follow me on my Instagram account here!
  • I'd love to teach or train photography in my city, so this is also on the agenda. I don't know at what capacity this will be, but I love teaching (especially cross-culturally). In the beginning, this is what motivated me to get my masters in the first place, so I'd love to end up doing this in the near future. We'll see! 

So lots of ideas! I'm trying to listen to the advice of some friends by celebrating this accomplishment and not rushing into the next thing, but this is hard for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't like to be idle. There is always something that can be accomplished. :) But rest is an "activity" too (apparently). :) 

Well friends, you will now hear more from me on this blog now that my essay-writing-days are over (can I get an amen!?)! Thanks for coming back after my long hiatus! Chat soon.

Ashley

Book Release!

If you haven't heard already, I have exciting news....

I have officially published my book. 
Foreign Lands: American Dads Living Abroad!

This has been a two year process for me of tons of shooting, editing, selecting, more editing, and even more editing (publishing a book is not for the faint at heart!). I didn't realize the work that would go into this, but it is so worth it. I am very pleased with the project's outcome and what I discovered about fatherhood in the process.

When I received the book I was so impressed with the quality. I decided to use the Print-On-Demand (POD) service, Blurb.com, as my audience is not just in one location, but in several countries. It is a great way for the most people possible to get their hands on a copy. If you'd like to view the storefront page, click the image of me holding the book!

Overall I am very happy about the work and so excited for people to see it. I really hope that it's an encouragement to dads out there who are struggling or just need to hear from other men who are in similar situations. Fatherhood is such an under-researched and overlooked topic and I really hope that I can help share the significance of this role in a family. 

Another piece of exciting news is that I have been interviewed by an Instagram user, @happywithdaddy. The interview should be rolling out soon, which I will post here when it's released. Thanks to everyone for their amazing support and to Hannah, who helped design the book. She did a fantastic job and really made the book come together. I couldn't have done it without her. 

Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to hear your feedback about the work. 

-Ashley