Travel

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

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

Bluebonnets in Texas

One of my favorite things about Texas is the state flower: the bluebonnet. 

 Somewhere in Texas :) | 2013

Somewhere in Texas :) | 2013

In the springtime, wild bluebonnets will begin to pop up everywhere on the sides of roads, especially along highways. You will see people parking on the sides of roads, wrangling their kids to capture family photos with the bluebonnets. They're beautiful and just pop when you photograph them! 

I captured this one above on a road trip in 2013 before we moved overseas. I just couldn't resist myself and had to get my husband to pull over the car. :) Sometimes you gotta do, what you gotta do! 

For you more techy people out there who are curious, I shot this on my Canon 5D Mark II, likely with my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. This was the lens I used almost exclusively for a while before I switched to Primes. It's a great lens and would totally buy one again! 

Hope you're weekend is awesome!

-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

Wadi What? | #ThrowbackThursday #tbt

Have you ever heard of a wadi? It was new for me earlier this year when I first visited the Middle East. A wadi is like a large dry riverbed or a place that does hold water in rainy seasons. Whenever they are dry, they are great places to hike and explore and look like this:

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Some friends of ours invited us to go on a wadi hike and it was a blast. The water is so naturally blue and beautiful. This is where we ended up before I had to put my camera away:

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I unfortunately don't have any pictures after this, but you basically swim and walk through this channel of water until it leads you to this small, narrow opening into a cave. Inside the cave are ropes to climb up and jump down. I was completely content watching others climb up and jump down--it had to of been at least 15 feet high! At times I honestly felt like I was at Disney World--but it was all real. lol  Imagine that! :)

By the end of the day we were beat, but it was a blast to go and visit a place that was only two hours from our home.

This has been so different from our experiences in South Asia, where the only fun things to do was eat, shop, or look at historical sites (which you can only do so much of!). Here we can actually get away and have some adventure in clean air. At one point, Joshua told me to look up and I was amazed at how blue the sky was. How can the sky be so blue?! It was amazing. 

So needless to say, I feel so spoiled right now. While there are so many things I miss about South Asia, I am enjoying the beauty of this new place. It's definitely more healthy for our bodies and our lungs as we've been way more active since moving and my asthma has declined greatly. 

I'm sure I'm in a honeymoon phase and in six months I will be complaining to you, but for now I'm content and okay with the phase I'm in. Hopefully since we've experienced culture shock before it won't be a complete surprise this time! :)

Have a good one (and go explore something! It's fun!)!

-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. :)