Friday, April 21, 2017

Run to You | Inspiration

It's Friday.
And my weekend work is upon me.
A venue walk-thru this afternoon...
ribbon-cutting event this evening...
2 lifestyle shoots Saturday...
...and rounding out the weekend with an evening shoot Sunday.

Have a beautiful weekend everyone...Sunday should be especially gorgeous. I hope you spend it outdoors with the ones you love.  (Or, meander to the movie theater and see "The Promise"...there's nothing better than an epic history-based love story:)  Sigh...

Back to editing, lovely music, and a cuppa tea.

Love,
Ashley

 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Like an illusion...

Ever-inspired by so many art forms, but dance...you will always be my first love.  And love songs like this one.  Enjoy...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Timing is everything...

"I want to know that you moved and breathed in the same world as me..."
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love this quote...it has always made me think of 'time'.  Specifically the timing of life.  The days and years and decisions that have lead us to this exact moment.

One of the first things I ask my engaged couples is, "How did you two meet each other?"  I love the uniqueness of each story, yet they all share one vital thing in common - timing.  Maybe they were childhood sweethearts, high school sweethearts, college sweethearts...I knew one couple who met when they both showed up to the wrong restaurant for different blind dates.  Timing really is everything.

What if they were born a decade apart?  Raised in different cities?  Who would they be?  And who would they be with?  I suppose the divine destiny of life takes care of the details, but it's a curiosity that gets me nonetheless.

I hope the hours and minutes of your life are spent with that person who fulfills your soul in a way that satisfies your every desire.  Celebrate the timing of your life - and the unexpected ways it surprises us.  And if you're anything less than happy, it's never too late to restart the clock...

Love,
Ashley




Thursday, December 1, 2016

Run for the hills...

Hello my friend.  I'm taking a much-needed break for a quick blog during a very busy photography season.  Back-to-back shoots this afternoon, an Indian ceremony in the morning, rehearsal dinner tomorrow night, wedding Saturday, a shoot Sunday...and only a handful of open days during all of December to sit, edit photos, and be still.  The end-of-year bookings are upon me.......and soon it will start all over again in the new year.  New engagements.  New stories.  So grateful for all of it and I feel incredibly blessed to have such steady work.

I never believed in my wildest dreams that I would get to navigate life with a camera in my hands.  I don't ever want to take it for granted - or forget why I started it in the first place.  Passion.  That's it, really.  It's my only fuel and when my meter gets low...I go for a walk in the woods and find it again.  Some women prefer shopping or coffee with girlfriends...I make a run for the hills.  I love wandering those mysterious places.  I think I must have been a Viking once...or perhaps a lowland Scot:)  Moss covered stones and towering trees are my favorite company.  Things are so clear out there.  Quiet.  Motionless.  Free.  I don't know exactly when I became such a contented hermit, but I am.

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
...and miles to go before I sleep."
-Robert Frost

I hope you're enjoying this amazing crisp weather and the happiness that comes with the holidays.  Back to work now...with a little love song for you.

Love,
Ashley

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hands & No Man's Land

How do you remember people?

Some people remember faces - shades of eye colors, a smile, their scent - even the texture of someone's skin.  Others remember someone's voice or laughter.  For me, it's always the hands.  I can forget everything else about a person, but I can still picture the uniqueness of their hands.  And truly, hands are possibly the most personal thing we all carry.  Who we are touched by; held by.  The firmness of one's hand shake.  A wave hello.  Holding a child for the first time.  The grip on a camera.  The way he buttons his dress shirt in the mornings.  How she holds her coffee.  Our entire lives are measured by the people and things we hold on to...I love hands:) 

There's this particular moment I wait for during wedding ceremonies... It isn't one of the audacious gestures like the kiss or the walking down the aisle.  It's so much more subtle and easily missed if you're not looking for it...


You see, there is the briefest of moments that always involves the man's hands.  It's when they first turn to face one another at the altar.  She looks at him; he at her.  They take each other's hands and then I watch.....and wait.....and all of a sudden (as if someone whispers in his ear) he rubs the tops of her hands with his thumbs.  A no man's land that belongs only to him.  I think this must be part nerves, part comfort, part reassurance that "this is it".  It's all really happening.
 


I wait for those eager thumbs to glide over the top of her hands and that's when I know...he's all in.  When you do enough weddings over the years, you start to look beyond the big moments - and search out the subtle ones.  That's where the most meaning is, don't you agree?


I'm always drawn to the moments (and people) who don't garner for attention.  I see far more beauty and honest truth in the quietest of places - where no one else is looking:)


Love,
Ashley

Monday, August 29, 2016

Chopin | Inspiration

What a day.

It started with an early morning commercial shoot, then a walk-through with my client for tomorrow's shoot, followed by 3 hours of intense editing and returned voicemails.  And in between every hurried 'Monday moment' today, I've had the companionship of Chopin dancing in my ears.

We play a lot of classical music in our home, and I'm eternally grateful to my parents who did the same for me as a child.  Back then, it opened my young mind to the art of music and composition... I have such vivid memories of evenings spent at the theater and the ballet...and all the while thinking how desperately I wanted to be a part of that magical world of artists.  We were surrounded by so many beautiful experiences then, and I only hope that I give my daughters the same appreciation for it.  Tonight...once my little angels are soundly asleep, I'm going to brew some chamomile tea, curl up on the back patio, get through one more chapter of my Hemingway, and let Chopin echo throughout the backyard.  I don't think the neighbors will mind :)

Love,
Ashley

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Art of Getting Lost

Do you remember the last thing you did just for you?

I've learned over the years that it's so important to take time to create art just for me.  I give so much of myself to my clients (whom I love) but it can also drain someone's creativity if all they do is create for others.  Creating art, for the pure pleasure of it, is so important.  Taking time for myself allows me to refocus, experiment with carefree abandon, and unburden myself with the expectations of others.  

For years, I only photographed for other people.  I met deadlines.  Studied client's inspiration boards and goals.  But I realized one day that there was a subtle disconnect in my photography.  I felt distant from it, although I couldn't pinpoint why. And the more I wondered "why" the more I recognized that like all relationships you have to fall in love - over and over and over again with each other.

Art, by definition, should never be created with the intent of being submissive to others...Rather, it should stand free and self-ruling of everything else.  I haven't had near enough coffee to think much deeper than that for today, so I'll stop there :)

You don't have to be a full-time photographer, painter, or architect to call yourself an artist.  A single beautiful idea can be art.  A surgeon is an artist.  Chefs, accountants...even construction crews marking the clean lines of a new highway.  There is beauty in numbers, lines, and even cleaning windows...it allows the light in.  And if nothing else, my hope is to add just a little more beauty to the world.  

When I'm in places like the one below I think to myself, 'What's waiting there at the end of the road...beyond where my camera loses focus?' The point isn't to find out the answer.  The curiosity of "what if" is good enough for me.  That's where I find my art - over and over and over again.

Readying for an afternoon meeting - then a garden engagement shoot this evening.  Off to find some beauty...and get lost in it for a while.

Love,
A

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Letter

The words we choose are so important.  They're everything, actually.  They frame our lives.

I have several favorite moments on a wedding day.  Usually the rare quiet times that don't garner for my attention.  I especially live for the exchange of their letters to one another.

But first, I have to give you a snapshot of the day...Everything leading up to that moment is extremely fast-paced.  The minute I arrive to a wedding, I feel a burst of creative energy and get right to work.  The girls.  The guys.  The fastening of her gown.  The final wisp of the mascara wand.  The tight lacing of his new leather shoes.  It's lightning-quick.  And it's the creative energy I live for.

But there are a few key moments that I particularly adore - mainly because of their tepid, unassuming nature...My favorite time is the reading of their letters to each other.

We always start by picking a quiet place...free of people or eager spectators.  A 'pin drop silence' moves across the room - with only the fragile light of a nearby window and a soft chair for her to sit...to rest.  For most brides, her day so far has been a blur of both excitement and anticipation, peonies and prosecco.  So I want her to slow down and just breathe...

She starts to read the words he wrote for her.
The emotion of 'him' washes over her face.
She settles deeper into the chair.
Her hands tremble.
The pages tremble.
Her breathing deepens.
A wrinkle in time somewhere between laughing and crying.
She continues reading.
Turns the page quickly; she's hanging on his every word.
Part of me is so curious, but the real beauty is that it's their secret.
And only the two of them know the meaning behind every line.

A private ceremony between pen and paper.  


It's one of the only moments on a wedding day where time almost stands entirely still.  And I love that it's their words that bring the entire day to a necessary halt.  Sometimes I can actually feel the energy of the room taking a deep, grateful sigh.  I'll capture a few subtle images before lowering my camera and retreating back into a nearby corner...I want her to take in the impact and the 'realness' of this moment.  And just as my own heart rate begins to slow, the energy of the day manifests again and the moment is gone.  So beautiful.

Our words hold more power than anything on earth.  They last long after we are gone.  What you said.  What we didn't say.  What you meant.  What I heard.  How you felt.  A song's lyrics.  The depth of a poem.  Hemingway.  A first hello.  Silence.  A child's first word.  I'm sorry's.  I love you's.  Words mean so much to me.  And they always reveal the beauty or beast of a person's character.  Always. 

Your words set the boundaries of your life, so let's choose wisely. 

A big week ahead.  Meetings, shoots, and life in between.  Love to you all!
-Ashley 

...and because I can't edit at night without my music, here are the words (and unreal video) of one of my favorite artists, Sia.  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Art of Vulnerability

"To love is to be vulnerable." - C.S. Lewis


I've been thinking about vulnerability lately.  I ask this of my clients every day.

Be vulnerable.
Open yourselves.
Trust me. 

It's like asking a stranger to disrobe sometimes, so I'm intentionally delicate and slow to unravel the hidden layers of each person - to see who they really are.  To observe them fully exposed - natural, beautiful, completely imperfect... Until all that remains is the most raw version of themselves.  Then I catch it.  Like a firefly against the midnight sky.  Those unexpected moments that only happen by accident.  The slow way their fingers weave together.  Her nervous glance towards him.  The way his eyes close tight when he kisses her...


This is why I give creative direction to my engaged couples, rather than awkward poses or frozen hand placements.  It's more like choreography (the dancer in me can't help it:)  Instead of forcing things, I'll simply say "...walk to those trees, spin her, pull her in close, kiss her, and come back to me."  That's when I see it - catch it.  And by the end, we are all standing there naked with each other (metaphorically, anyway).

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than being truly vulnerable.  Terrified.  Hopeful.  Stark naked and praying that the other person will do the same.  I want to thank my clients who trust me with is.  It means everything to me...

Let's all be more vulnerable and love on purpose.  I hope your day is beautiful...

Love,
Ashley

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What Dreams May Come

I've had this image in my mind for so long.  I've dreamt of her even.

A woman with long dark flowing hair, surrounded by evergreens and overgrowth...and a stream of still water beneath her.  Romantic and ethereal - like being lost in Neverland...or the magic of Sherwood Forest.  She's young and beautiful, carefree and wild.  She's my muse.

My very, very, very favorite part of my work is the adventure of it - scouting beautiful forests and forgotten places.  Heading out alone into the Great Unknown; waiting to see "the place" I've been searching for.  When I find it, I'm like a kid at Christmas:)  And I swear, a small part of me still believes I might spot a fairy (and I may have even fibbed and told my daughters that I once saw a mermaid at sea).  Holding onto a childlike sense of curiosity and wonder is so important - maybe the most important thing.

I hope you enjoy these.

Off to the trees...
Ashley

















Styling: Pretty Little Details
Photography: Painted Peacock Photography
Dress: Casa de Novia (Monique Lhuillier)
Flowers: College Park Flowers
Hair: Pablo Ono of Charlize Alexandra Hair & Makeup
Makeup: Pink Palette Artists
Calligraphy: Emily Reeves Calligraphy
Model: Emily Reeves

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Miles to go before I sleep...

Let's journal a bit, shall we?  It's been ages since I wrote much and I miss you!  After all, I never want to be so busy that I don't stop and appreciate life.  It's far too short as it is, and I never want to wake up at 80 and wish I had stopped more often.  So let's pause for a moment...

It's fall again...and the most beautiful day outside. I absolutely live for fall.  Scarves. Boots. Warm hugs and hot lattes. Everything changes.  But in a meaningful way, everything starts all over again too.  It always makes me nostalgic.  A bit anxious even.  Like the turning leaves and eastward winds stir everything back up to the surface.  It lingers there briefly, then falls to the ground again for another 9 months.  I love the swirling.  I wish it happened all year long; in leaves and in life.

I'm been shooting 7 days a week for months now (in the words of my beloved Robert Frost, "...miles to go before I sleep.") I'm such a night owl as it is, that when I do dream at night I know it's been a particularly good night's rest. I awoke the other morning with the strangest sensation... I was in my childhood room at my parent's home.  My eyes were still closed and it smelled the same - the bed even felt the same.  But when I opened my eyes I was in Houston.  My room here; a grown-up adult room so different from my childhood one.  I recall that girly room so well, with its wall border of greenery and roses and crisp Laura Ashley sheets. It made me miss home. I can't wait to spend a few days with my parents there over Thanksgiving. And wake up to those same smells and sights... the morning sun seeping in those three little windows and Blue Mountain Coffee on the back patio :)  It can't come soon enough...


I suppose there's no real point to this journaling - other than to say hello and I hope you are well.  I hope things have fallen into place in your life - settled.  I hope today is good to you - and you are in a place where you are content and happy. 

I'm out the door to a shoot... planning to kick up some leaves and hope you do too.  

Love always,
Ashley