Shared Humanity

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.

2017.11.24 - Connecting with People - blog 01.jpg

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

Meet Amanda! | Portrait Project

Before we left the State's, I had taken a couple of portraits that I wanted to share on my blog. So without further adieu, meet my sister, Amanda!

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/400 sec, ISO-500

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/400 sec, ISO-500

"The best experience I have ever had was having kids. They are so entertaining and fun to be around." Amanda told me, as I asked her about the best experience in her life. 

My nieces and I being silly. |  Nexus 5X

My nieces and I being silly. | Nexus 5X

Amanda has two daughters, Haelee and Savannah, which are the cutest, most hilarious, and loving kids ever (yes, they are my nieces, but I most genuinely say this :). They're a joy to be around and add so much life to the room when they're present.

"Haelee says some hilarious stuff and Vannah does too. I love being a mom--it's such an honor to be the mom of these two girls." Amanda is really good with her kids, too--when you see them together, you clearly see the adoration of her two girls towards their mom.

I know my sister well, but I asked anyway about what some of her passions are and it's fun that photography runs in my family so much! She told me: "I love is photography. There is so much you can do with it. It's awesome to start off with a picture and create something beautiful out of it." 

Amanda has been photographing weddings and portraits for some time now and loves it. Our love for photography began about the same time and although we're passionate about different topics in this field, we still love to take photo walks together with our mom when I'm in town. This picture of her, actually, is from the last photo walk we took together before I left.

Thanks Amanda for letting me share your photo and parts of your life! 


If you'd like your picture taken and your story told, let me know and we can arrange that!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Ashley

Differences in Worship

Growing up, I really thought worship was defined as singing or playing an instrument. Little did I know that my upbringing in the West fashioned my mind to think this way. I'm not saying it's wrong at all, in fact, I love playing my guitar and singing! For me, it's something very important that I like to do often. Going to other cultures though and seeing the differences in worship, I can't help but ponder more about what worship is exactly. 

5D Mark II; 85mm f/1.8  |  f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO-1600

5D Mark II; 85mm f/1.8  |  f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO-1600

The definition of "Worship" from Google is this: to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites. 

The worshipers at the Golden Temple (pictured above) decided to show reverence by bowing and touching their head on the platform. Some places people will throw flowers, give money, bow down prostrate or even do hand motions.

As a bystander in most of these situations, I find it fascinating to see what people do. I think it widens our perspectives to watch the practices of other cultures. It might not be what we think is true, but it gives us insight into humanity and how we were created. 

 How do people worship in your culture? Leave a comment in the comment section below.

-Ashley

We All Work

Work. Some people don't like the word, others use it too much. 

It's all something we do though. Whether it's like this man who is a tailor, creating designs and making clothing for people, or if it's an educator at a university. We all have to work. We all have to provide for our families. We all want our children to have a good education. We all need to eat and eating requires money. Which requires work! :) See where I'm going here?

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-640  |  Chiang Mai, Thailand

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/200 sec, ISO-640  |  Chiang Mai, Thailand

I think people forget sometimes that all of us humans are quite similar. 

With globalization rapidly spreading, places that were so far away aren't so much anymore. People are moving and cultures are merging. Let's get over our stereotypes and get to know each other!

I guarantee somewhere in your city there is someone different than you. Rather than stay away from that person, reach out. Learn about them--their career, their goals, their family, etc. There is so much to learn!

I'd love to hear about your experience. Share in the comment section below!

-Ashley

Beauty in Diversity

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/1000 sec, ISO-800  |  Texas, USA

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/1000 sec, ISO-800  |  Texas, USA

In the last few months we've traveled and met all kinds of people in different life situations. A few of those places have had wood blocks, like above, where they chop their own wood. This is a new thing for me. I know it is silly, but growing up in the city, we just went down to the store and bought wood. I know someone somewhere chopped it, but I never had to do that chore....or even think about doing that chore! It does make for a good picture, though! :)

On another note, I am thankful to know people who have such different lives than me. It brings things into perspective and shows me the beauty of diversity in our world. Not all of us have the same chores, but we definitely all have work that we have to do.

I believe that God has all given us different tasks to do in our lives--we all have a purpose and can live in that purpose. I believe part of my purpose is to take photos. When I take photos, I feel like I glorify God. I get to take pictures of His creation to show off how good of a Creator He is! That's a fun job! :)

What's your job? your purpose? your calling? It's good--I promise! If you don't exactly know, why don't you ask Him? If you know what that is, tell me about it in the comment section below. I'd love to hear about it.

-Ashley

Looking Inside

When we were in Thailand once, this man (pictured below) for some reason began to laugh while he scooped up our creamy coconut ice cream, with jellies and vermicelli noodles. As I watched him, I secretly snagged a couple of photos of him in that moment of joy. These moments, I just love!

I love these moments because I can clearly see how we are all alike. God gave us all smiles, laughs and senses of humor. This man may look different than you or I (or maybe you look just like him!), but inside, he is the same as you and me. 

Once I was really afraid to interact with those different than me, but now I see the beauty in the differences and couldn't imagine my life any different. If you have a fear of people different than you, reach out. Just say hi and ask how their day is. You'll quickly see that they are just another human on this earth, seeking to do something with their life. It's that simple!

-Ashley

Meet Sage | Weekly Portrait Project

We met Sage five years ago when we visited a church in Tacoma, Washington. He might look like an intimidating person (I did try to get him to smile--promise!), but is one of the most fun people we've ever been around. Him and his wife (and kids!) are amazing people who are constant encouragements to us. We love these guys. Read about Sage's story below:

My name is Sage Sanchez.

Jesus rescued me 11 years ago. I was born into a generational curse of drug addiction that plagued my family for years. Sitting in jail, I started asking myself questions, that never dared to ask while I was entrenched in the lifestyle of gangs and drugs. Not too long after sitting in jail for a year, and searching for the Lord, I was in a position that I had face reality, and all my fears, I realized I was face to face with God, broken and, crying out to Him to save me! He was faithful and just, He rescued me, and has been restoring me back to who I am created to be. I am called to be a husband, a father, and most importantly, a child of God. I am thankful that He let's me partner with Him in ministry, and serve broken young people that I can relate to.


Like Sage, we all have stories when we've been in a broken place. We might all be different looking, from different countries, speak different languages, and have different experiences, but the bottom line is that at a basic level we're all the same. I hope that from this portrait project you are beginning to see the beauty in diversity of people and their stories. 

Give me the opportunity to share YOUR story! Email me (ashley@transparentlifephotos.com)!

-Ashley

Meet Kaycee | Weekly Portrait Project

I really enjoyed meeting Kaycee this past January in Washington. I met her through her sister, which is a good friend of mine, and I felt so blessed to meet and hear more about her life. 

That's what I love about this project. Taking photos of people, hearing their stories and learning about the experiences people go through is both stretching and encouraging. It reminds me of how we are all so similar--we might all have different stories, but we are all humans desiring to make a difference. 

To be encouraged by Kaycee's story, read below!

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For seventeen years I was the youngest of four girls. I thought a lot about having younger siblings, but never really thought it would happen. At the age of seventeen we started foster care, which I loved, but it was also heart breaking when we had to say goodbye. Then at the age of nineteen, in November 2012, our family’s adoption of two siblings from Uganda was finalized and they got to come home! For the first time I had younger siblings, and for the first time I had a brother. A little over a year ago another adoption went through and we gained another brother, this time from Ethiopia.

Many times when people find out how many siblings I have, 16 (including foster siblings), they react in shock and they go on to say how in awe they are with what my family has done. For me it always throws me when they say these things. I never thought about how much it takes for what we do. It’s just what we do. We say yes to God. Especially with my adoptive siblings, I could not possibly imagine not having them. At times, it’s like we have all been a family forever and that there is no difference between us. The way my family is put together has been such a blessing and has shaped me to be the way I am. 

-Kaycee


To share your story and picture on my blog, leave a comment below and we'll set something up! Thanks for stopping by!

-Ashley