Overseas

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

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

The Himalayas

The Himalayas are so beautiful. I've seen them in different spots and they've never disappointed me. Traveling in them though can be nerve racking as the roads aren't the best--very narrow and people can drive fast and crazy. But they're still beautiful to look at. :)

One day I'd love to travel to Nepal and do the Annapurna Circuit, which is a hiking trail that goes through a section of the Himalayas. It's a beautiful area, but it'd definitely require me to start getting in better shape! Apparently you can choose what sections you want to do (so you don't have to do the entire trail), but even then it would require for my legs to be stronger.

Do you like to hike? What's your favorite trail and why?

Have a great weekend!

-Ashley

Connecting with People

One of the things I love to do when I travel is connect with people. I think it comes more natural to me than it used to; in the past I was afraid to approach strangers, but I've grown in that area (although sometimes I still get scared). The fear that I feel though is generally washed away once I begin talking with people--I genuinely love meeting new people and hearing about their lives.  Like for example, this family I met in Thailand when I was there last year.

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These two women are sisters, and their family has been running this small restaurant on the side of the road for a very long time. The sisters make the delicious food and take care of all the customers and their parents as well who live with them in their home that is attached to this restaurant. 

Going to the back of their restaurant was pleasurable--we chatted while they cooked and I took a few pictures. Unfortunately their English was limited and I have no Thai language abilities, but we were able to small talk some and it was an enjoyable experience for us both.

People are willing to connect with you if you just try to understand them; try to relate with them on some level about what they do, their lives, where they come from, what they believe in, etc. I know for me, when others ask me about my life and experiences I feel honored and loved--I hope these women did as well. If I ever get back to where they are it would be fun to visit them again!

-Ashley

Surprising Moments | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

It was a nice sunny day as we stopped to hike a trailhead that someone recommended to us. It didn't look like much, but the bright green trees, colorful vegetation, and fresh, clean air was calling our names, so we didn't even care if the views were nice wherever we were going. It was just nice to be outside in nature for a change (rather than a dusty, dirty, big city). As well, we were with great friends, which made anything we did that day worth it. 

As we neared the top, we began to see a wide opening in the midst of the trees and the view was absolutely amazing. We stayed their a while, looking out at the small quaint town talking while the kids played nearby. It was an amazing sight, one that we couldn't have anticipated (or at least I didn't know what I was walking into!). I really appreciated it though and as I look back at this photo I'm reminded of the enjoyable moment I spent with my friends on that hilltop.

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What's been a surprising moment for you lately? I feel like sometimes we have to stop what we're doing and recognize that it's a special moment, otherwise we miss it. Fortunately I was in the position to just take in the beauty around me in this moment, but that's not always the case (and beautiful places that catch your eyes like this one does don't exist everywhere!). But I think there is value in noticing the beauty in the things around us. I know for myself, learning to slow down and appreciate what's around me is something I'm still working on. What about you? 

I hope that you have a surprising moment today that is encouraging to you!

-Ashley

By the way, for those of you who are wondering, this image was taken with a 24mm f/2.8 on my Canon 5D Mark II. This lens is a great one to have in your bag, especially for landscapes or tight squeezes, although you have to be careful of lens distortion. I'll share more about this another time. :)

New Territory | Personal Post

Living in a new country is always a learning curve--What gestures are appropriate? What do people find interesting to talk about? Where do you buy groceries--and what do you have/lack and what do you have change in your diet to go with what you can find? What do you wear? What's in fashion or what is inappropriate to wear? And so forth! The questions are endless.

Learning a new city is also an interesting experience. Some of our new finds include a local coffee shop that makes excellent coffee. We also found a bubble tea shop--something I haven't had in a long time (that was an exciting discovery)! We also have found that a lot of local places are closed between the hours of 1pm and 4pm. Larger grocery stores and shops are fine, but if you want to go to a market, don't plan to go at that time (we heard about this, but then forgot and learned the hard way--oops). You actually probably wouldn't want to go at that time anyway because it's so hot! Also the work week here is Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. 

So we are in new territory folks--learning a lot and realizing also as we learn how much we don't know about life. It's interesting living in other cultures as it teaches you so much about the creativity of God and how different life can be done. I think every person should live in a different culture than their own for at least some season of their life--it teaches you a kind of respect and perspective that living in your home culture doesn't. Not to say that in some cities you can't get that "international" experience that I'm talking about; I'm fully aware that pockets of many nationalities exist in major cities. But for whatever reason, immersing yourself in a new environment and having to learn how to appreciate differences (because you can't change what's around you or escape from it) is a character building experience. :) 

 October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

The other day while looking for homes, we were invited into someone's home and we had the pleasure of experiencing their hospitality. After cardamom-coffee, dates, somosas, fried fish, other-unrecognizable-items, and juice (remember this was a spontaneous house visit--they were prepared!), we left their home grinning ear to ear, very honored, and stomachs full. Our host was very adamant that she show us hospitality and how they do it, relaying to us every detail that goes into serving guests in our new city. They were very proud to be the first locals to invite us into their home and we enjoyed it thoroughly. It was actually recognizable in a lot of ways from our previous place of residence. 

I look forward to more of these experiences as I have much to learn in this new place.! Follow me to hear more about it. :)

-Ashley

Shameless Sunset Share | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

 April 2017 - Istanbul, Turkey

April 2017 - Istanbul, Turkey

I know that countless sunsets fill up the internet, but why not clog it up more with one I saw earlier this year! :)

Last April we had the chance to visit Turkey and we happened to be crossing this bridge right at sunset. It was seriously amazing and I took way too many photos! Seeing this again makes me remember the incredible feeling of viewing it firsthand, thanking God for being such a wonderful creator. It is seriously breathtaking! 

Hope that you are inspired by something in your day today that brings you encouragement and thankfulness. Have a good one!

-Ashley

Settling In | Personal Post

So with our recent move we've been house hunting and trying to figure out where to live. It's been quite a journey. With viewing 19 houses already I feel like a pro! I definitely have my list of what I do not want and what I do want very defined since we've seen so many places. 

I do have to say I am ready to be settled. After four years and four international moves under my belt, I'm done with packing, selling items, and saying goodbye. I have to say though, even with all of these moves, this last goodbye was the hardest for us. The day we left I held one of my closer friends for 10 minutes while she bawled (and I was too, I must confess!). It was unnerving, especially since I don't know if I will ever see her again. Yes the world is changing and globalization is happening, but she is very poor and I don't think she has ever left the country...or ever plans to. I'm thankful for the time I had with her and I hope and pray the best for her and her family (and everyone else we met).

 October 2016 - My friend teaching me how to make Biriyani. 

October 2016 - My friend teaching me how to make Biriyani. 

Sorry for that somber bit! I am excited that we are here and that I will make new friends--just sad about what we left behind. Joshua and I feel that we'll be here likely the next three years, so we feel we can make roots a bit more and actually be a part of our community than previously. There are some photographic societies that I hope to jump into here and who knows where that will take me! I guess time will tell. :)

So how do you handle transition and change? Do you embrace it or run the opposite way screaming? :) I think I can say that I'm embracing it this time and trying to keep up with everything that's happening. There's a lot going on so time will tell to see how we do. :) Pray for us! 

Have an awesome day and be on the lookout for part two for my master's project!

-Ashley