Vision

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:

 
2018.10.09 - Architecture - Look Up.jpg
 

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

What's Your Drive?

Are you utilizing your skills for your own benefit? Are you in your field for your gain? Are you sharing your story or focusing on others? 

These are some questions I've been pondering over the last couple of days due to a podcast I recently listened to. The podcast is called "Depth of Field" and is hosted by Matt Brandon, a travel and documentary photographer. The goal of the podcast is to interview other photographers for the benefit of other working photographers (or those who aspire to be a working photographer). The person being interviewed was Esther Havens, a humanitarian photographer, who has traveled the world working for NGOs, non-profits, and other organizations, to share their stories and the impact they're having on the world. She's a passionate person, who does amazing photographic work and someone who genuinely cares about the organizations she works for.

It was a challenging podcast, as it made me truly evaluate what I am doing as a photographer. Am I in this for myself? For my gain? Or am I trying to lift others up and share their stories? 

I don't know if I have a complete answer for myself--but I do know that there have been moments when I shot a picture and thought, "Oh! What a great shot to put in my portfolio!" This goes for taking pictures of people and even inanimate objects or scenery.

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO-400

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO-400

Like this picture of the splash of ocean water--if I thought immediately how great it would be to post this on my website, I'm not praising God for His creation, but thinking about myself. How short-sighted this is!

I feel slightly ashamed realizing that (and admitting it to you!), but in the creative field, it's a hard reality to fight against. The reality that everyone is trying to be better than others in their field and will do crazy things to stand out and receive a following. I don't think I've done anything crazy, but my heart and mind have sometimes wandered to myself rather than the person I was photographing. This is something I truly want to change in myself and my work.

I think that whatever field you're in, these are good questions to ask. It's good to have a "heart check" and ask yourself if you're trying to gain praise or if you're actually making a difference in the lives you're working with. I want the latter. I want to make a difference in the people I'm photographing and the stories I'm sharing.

So, what's you're drive? What's compelling you to do what you're doing? Is it for yourself or for others? Go think about it and let me know your thoughts!

If you want to listen to the interview, click here.

-Ashley 

Expecting the Unexpected

Do you ever have those moments where you're expecting one thing and something else happens? I feel like this is the case for me a lot--both personally and photographically speaking. 

I am a driven person, normally (I do have my days of laziness!). I have dreams, goals, and aspirations--and ambitions to meet all of them! Obviously, to meet all of those aspirations is impossible, but I think Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) is true: "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Plans are good. And it's good to hold these plans, goals, dreams, etc. loosely for God to move them in a different direction, if need be.

This idea is something I'm currently working on. I'm trying to hold my plans loosely and expect confidently that things will work out, but maybe not in the way I'm expecting. I think there is something to be said about someone who has vision for their life and is willing to let God change things up a bit. I'd really like to be like that...and God is giving me many opportunities to try it out! :) 

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/80 sec, ISO-500  |  Portland, OR, USA

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/80 sec, ISO-500  |  Portland, OR, USA

Photographically speaking, sometimes I will take pictures expecting one thing, and I get another. Sometimes they're good and other times...they're pretty bad (and you'll never see those!). ;) The picture above is an example of an unexpected outcome. I tried to focus on the building in the water, not the water itself. Even though I didn't envision this image, I ended up really liking it!

Life is the same way. My focus is on one thing and I end up getting something a little different. When I think back over my life, I clearly see how when I received the unexpected, I was always more satisfied in the end. In these moments, sometimes disappointment arises (you can read my thoughts about disappointment here), but to know that God has great plans for me, I can rest assured that my life has purpose and God's not wasting any of my time on this earth. It's really not mine anyways!

So, here's to expecting the unexpected. Whatever happens will be good!

-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

Eager for Change

Have you ever felt like something was brewing inside of your mind and heart that you didn't know how to describe? Something that kept mulling repetitively in your mind, but you couldn't put your finger on the exact thought? 

I have no idea what that's like!! ;)

Okay, yeah, I'm lying. I'm totally in that spot right now.

I feel really challenged...in a good way, I think. I have been trying to think through what it is that I'm trying to accomplish with my website, photography, and blog. And to be forthright, I'm unsure. 

I want to make a difference. Plain and simple. I feel like if I were to die without changing someone's life in some way using photography, I would have missed part of my purpose in life. 

I never realized 9 years ago, when my Mom gave me my camera as a "graduating university" gift, that I'd be doing it professionally one day. I never would have imagined the places I've taken my camera and the fun things I've been able to do with it. Case in point: the picture below (taken in Thailand).

But I want more. And I don't mean that in a greedy sense. What I mean is that I want more than just sharing beautiful photos. I want life change.

I want to act as a catalyst for change in people--in their thought process, actions and views.

I want to learn and grow.

I want to share the world that I see with you.

I want to challenge my readers to do the same, wherever they're at. 

We weren't just put on this earth to do nothing. Our lives are precious and we should fiercely try to figure out what that purpose is so we can live in it.

And that friends, is what I'm doing. Aggressively asking, what is it I'm supposed to do with photography? How can I be a change agent in this industry? If I could answer those questions, I suspect things would be very different for me.  

More on this later. 

-Ashley

Meet Tiffany | Weekly Portrait Project

I've known Tiffany for a long time. We met when I was born--she's my cousin on my Dad's side! :) If I stood next to her you'd see the resemblance, especially if she had her hair curly. 

If I needed some cheering up or if I was really depressed, this woman would be the one I'd go to. She exudes joy. Her laugh compels me to laugh. She's thoughtful and caring. Since being back in the state's, I've really had fun seeing her more often and I treasure every moment.

You know, even though Tiffany is my family, there are still things I don't know about her. One of those things I just learned when I asked her to participate in my weekly portrait project. She has been working as a nurse in the Dialysis scene for some time now and has vision for something really awesome in the future that she's praying about. Hear it in her own words:

This is something I've been thinking about in the back in my mind for a long time now. When I started working with Dialysis patients, they said the main cause of kidney failure is uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension. Our patient population in the U.S. for these issues are expected to double by 2020. 

So my passion is for the church to be healthy. I know God wants the church to be healthy and obesity is taking over us.

What I'm praying about is doing a non-profit in churches that does health screenings. It would help people become educated in their numbers--what their blood pressure is, etc. In my latest job I heard horror stories of people not knowing they had high blood pressure, they crashed in the ICU setting and then ended up on Dialysis because they didn't know.

So my passion is for the church to be healthy. I know God wants the church to be healthy and obesity is taking over us. I think knowledge is power--knowing your numbers are power. I've seen a lot of people who didn't know they had high blood pressure and then their kidney's failed. 

Going into church settings and doing health screenings would help--and even taking it a step further than that, educating people how to use a glucometer or a blood pressure machine, teaching them what's normal, giving them one and empowering them to check their numbers at home. Or when they come in to be screened and their blood pressure is too high, we could immediately send them to the ER. The goal is to catch them before they have kidney failure and are forced to be on Dialysis. 

God didn't make me a nurse for no reason. When I heard that our patient population would double by 2020, my first thought was how can we stop that? I don't think there are enough people or enough programs to help and I feel like this is something God has put on my heart.


I am really excited to see how God develops this in Tiffany. If you have the same passion about healthcare, maybe God wants to use you in this way too. Feel free to contact me and I can put you in contact with Tiffany. 

If you want your picture taken and your story told on my blog, facebook message me, email me (ashley@transparentlifephotos.com) or leave a comment below!

-Ashley

What's your vision?

One of the photographers I follow, David duChemin (a world and humanitarian photographer), always talks about how vision is much more important than just taking photos. This challenges me and I agree with him wholeheartedly! Vision should always drive the train in everything we do. 

So what's my vision, you might be thinking? Good question...I'm still trying to figure that out. I was telling Joshua (my husband) the other day that when I take photos, I feel like I glorify God. It reminds me of the quote from the movie Chariots of Fire.

I believe that God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure. - Eric Lidell
— http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082158/quotes

I feel like when I take photographs, I feel His pleasure. That might be extreme for some of you, but there are only a few things that I do that is accompanied by God's pleasure and photography is one of them. So, saying all of that, I believe that God has a purpose for photography in my life and I want to figure that out so I can do it and do it well.  

In 2016, I hope that I can uncover this. This is one reason why I am doing weekly photo portraits. I love taking pictures of people and I love showing our shared humanity. I feel like (and maybe I'm wrong) I do a good job at it, too. I also love showing the beauty of creation, hence all the pictures of the ocean, flowers and sunsets. Urban settings are fun to shoot, too! I have many things I love to capture, but hopefully as I gain a vision for my photography, you will see that reflected in my work. 

So friend, let me flip the question back to you: What's your vision? What drives what you do? I hope that you can answer this question and be excited about whatever it is you're doing with your life!

-Ashley

See, Compose & Shoot

One day earlier this year, I did a photo walk around the campus I work at (I teach English here) and I came across a plant that was really beautiful. I hadn't gotten my camera out in a while (when you're teaching....it's all you do!) and I wanted to do something creative--get my mind off work.

When I am out taking photos, I don't just snap everything I see. Normally, things catch my eyes and I inspect it, looking at how I can compose the photo. I move around to get different perspectives. I think about how the light is hitting the subject and how I can share the beauty of what I see. I then bring the camera to my eyes, look through the frame and try to take different pictures from different angles. I try different depths of field, different shutter speeds, etc. etc. etc. This is what came from it:

When I first started with photography, I thought I could just get lucky when I would take photos. I would see things, of course, but I wouldn't think about my camera settings (in fact, my camera would just stay at a wide aperture), I wouldn't think to move around a bit to change my perspective, I wouldn't think about what my focus was, and on. Perhaps I was a little lucky in the beginning, as I still got clients and had a small business going. However, as I wanted to grow, I switched to RAW format, changed my settings to manual (so I was forced to figure things out), started studying and observing other's work, and I practiced a lot. I'm not where I want to be still, but I hope I'm still growing and changing in how I see things. 

David deChemin, World and Humanitarian Photographer, talks a lot about vision and letting that be your guide. I am struck by his posts, as I want to be driven by the vision that God gives me. I'm still trying to figure that out, but I hope that as I do my photography and other art forms shape with it. I want to be driven by something, not just "shooting in the dark" per say.  (pun intended :-) )

I hope you have enjoyed my photo of the day project--I honestly was only planning on doing it for a month or so. However, I have really enjoyed sharing photos with all of you and I'm going to try to keep it up for some time. Once I resume teaching soon that will tell if I can keep it going! Thanks for stopping by.

-Ashley