Looking back on the wedding season of 2018 I could not be more thankful! I have made a lot of new friends along the way, captured couples saying “I DO”, carried 10lb bouquets around for the bride, pinned boutonniere’s for the groom, stood out in the rain to capture portraits, danced on the dance floor with the bride and groom and so much more!! Everyone you see has helped me grow in my photography and put all their trust in me to be their wedding photographer!
Last year around this time I sat here and wrote a similar post about “see ya in 2018!” and how I was going to take the month of December off from photography and spend time with my grandma and family and here we are getting ready to wrap up this year. After the year that I have had, I felt like I need to do the same thing and take the month of December off again from photography to just catch up on life and take a little rest!
This past year has had some huge life changes and growing for me and if you want to read more about it, here goes because I have not really opened up about what’s happened in this year. A friend looked at me the other day and said “Ash I have no idea how you are still standing here smiling and making sure everyone else is okay with all the changes that has happened to you, I’m honestly in awe.” I just looked at her and said, “I honestly have no idea but if none of it would have happened then I would not have the story that I have today.”
Last December I signed off from social media to spend time with my grandma, who we found out was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in October. If you knew my grandma, you would know this was a huge shocker. Trust me I get it, everyone goes through some kind of sickness, or a type of cancer that takes a loved one from us. It just sucks, there is no other word or feeling for it. As I sit here and just think about this time, I think about all the small things. She would call me and ask a 101 questions and would not let me off the phone until I answered each one, if I didn’t answer she would leave a message that said “Ashleigh, it’s your grandma….” like after 26 years I didn’t know who was calling me 😂 or standing over my shoulder asking who those people were that I was editing on my computer and asking 101 questions about them (and yes guys my grandma knew who you were if I have photographed you!) I sat there and watched her love on my nephew and teach my sister and I how to do things we never would have known to do, telling Stephanie and I while she was in the hospital she needed to have her hair done because wanted to look presentable (we made sure to make that happen lol shout out to Gwen + Jessica for bringing the salon to the hospital!) and then things changed when her cancer took over. It went from my grandma taking care of us to my family taking care of her. From the surgeries, back and forth rides to the hospital, to hope that she had a fighting chance to survive. Then it happened, On December 28th I walked into that hospice room where she took her final breath and then I had to make that one call and let my family know our grandma had went to be with the Lord.
After that, I was numb to life and I wasn’t sure what I was suppose to feel. I was angry with God because this was suppose to be my grandma’s golden years, she was going to enjoy this time. My mom did not handle losing her mom well, so then I felt like I lost not only my grandma but my mom there for the longest. I felt this way for so long I wanted to scream (it's okay to feel this way at times but it’s not okay to stay that way) I had a hard time opening my computer and editing those images, I had a hard time driving past her house and so much more.
By April, I had finally had a reality check. I had to grow up so fast and learn so much that I had changed as a person since October 2017. I wanted to enjoy life day by day, spend time with loved ones, travel, love on others, make memories, not deal with drama (life is WAY to short for that). So I started with my career, I took a hard look at what I wanted to do, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to school and try for my NP or try and go full time photography or just stay were I was at. Then in May I made the decision to leave my job of 8 years at the dermatology office, which I’m still very close to those girls at that office and they supported me the whole time. I decided to take a whole month off from the medical field and enjoy vacation and photography before I started my new job working for Lexington Woman’s Care. Since starting there, I have made new friends, learned the OBGYN world and finally feel like I can breathe again.
With all that being said, I have no idea what tomorrow will hold or what type of news I may get. The one thing I know is that I can handle it a whole lot better knowing that the Lord took me through a horrible storm to get me where I am now. He has strengthend my relationship with my sister, made me a better aunt to Barrett, taught me how to lean on my other half when I thought I could do it on my own, to be genuine with my photography and to stand up for myself to others.
It’s funny how things work out though, this week I have stayed up late every night working on wedding galleries, Christmas minis, engagement sessions while seeing patients during the day and trying to spend time with my family in the evening. I had a moment where I felt exhausted but then 3 good friends out of the blue messaged me this week (I can not make this up) and said if anyone has not told you lately you’re doing awesome, you may not see it but your making others happy, and turn off your computer and go to bed Ash!
So I just wanted to tell everyone who sent me a flower, card, basket when my grandma passed away, asked me to be their photographer, wanted to go to a movie and grab drinks, sent a random kind message or a phone call, bought me a coffee or food…THANK YOU, thank you for loving on me and making sure I’m okay.
Here’s to the end of 2018 and the start of 2019! I will be around if you need me but after November, I will be placing my camera in my bag and locking it up until January 2019!
It is one of the best feelings to get a message about capturing a couple’s baby announcement and gender reveal! Stephanie + Matthew found out on a Monday at 4pm if they would be blessed with a little girl or boy. The envelope they picked up was sealed shut with their results until they were surrounded by loved ones! When Stephanie spoke with me about photographing this moment, she explained how exciting and nervous this was but so blessed for what the Lord had in store for them. Since Finley Kate is a rainbow baby, Steph wanted to add in rainbow foot prints and rainbow shoes to always keep the journey they walked through together alive! I can not wait to see these two grow within the next 9 months and for all the years to come!!
Are you always stressing out when trying to find something to wear for you portraits? Regardless if its family or an engagement session, I have some helpful tips! Though out the years I have learned how to help my clients but also I have learned through a styling guide! It is a lot to read BUT well worth it!
Style Tips: For Her
Because you always want to remember this.
Don’t Be Afraid to Dress It Up
Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of my clients love Rent the Runway for their session because it’s such an affordable way to feel like a million bucks. Other clients love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
Quick Tip: There’s no such thing as too dressed up.
Say Yes to the Dress
Dresses and skirts look most stunning because they really flatter every female body, especially on camera — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session, and saying yes to a dress or two instead.
Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos.Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.
When considering the length of your dresses or skirts, it’s also a good idea to factor in whether or not there will be little ones in your photos. If you have smaller children, I’ll likely have you sitting or crouching on the ground to interact up-close with them. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully, but if you have little ones in your photos, a floor-length dress or skirt, or perhaps a cute midi-skirt, will make moving around with your kids much easier, and look perfect on camera, too.
If you’re an expecting mother, we always recommend floor-length gowns or maxi dresses. These dresses create the best silhouettes to flatter your figure and really highlight your bump. A lot of my expecting mothers love to incorporate flower crowns or headpieces as well.
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments, and especially complements the desert.
Flattering Your Features
In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.
Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so we recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.
Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
Quick Tip: Bring a pair of easy-to-kick-off flats to wear when moving from place to place in between photos. Your feet will thank you later!
Go Pro: Hair & Makeup
Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most of our clients’ checklists because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! Professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If you’re working with a makeup artist, have her apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light lll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my clients feel like their professional makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, or that they're false lashes look too big, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it all just right for the camera — and my clients always love the final result. If you need a recommendation for hair and makeup, I have worked with the best in the business and have a go-to team! They’re sweet as pie, talented as heck, unbelievable professionals and wonderful people. You’ll LOVE them! Just let me know and I’lll send you their information. I know they’ll take good care of you!
Quick Tip: Confidence. It’s always the best accessory.
Fashion Tips: For Him
The Best Fit
Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted colored pants work best on camera. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. We also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.
Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
Mix It Up
Many of my guys love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and breaks up the color tones. I’m a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic.
It’s All in the Details
Brown leather dress shoes complement almost every look, whether he’s wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any outfit for men and boys alike. If you bring two outfits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two looks are too stressful, no problem! One will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to complement both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, it's a win.
How to Prep Your Man
Most men aren’t overly excited to take photos for an hour, because they don’t have an expectation of what’s to come and why it’s so important to you. Take fifteen minutes to educate and empower your guy. Tell him why you chose me and my style of photography. Show him your three favorite sessions that I have done, explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust me, once he knows it’s important, he’ll light up the camera for you! The most common thing I hear from guys before photo sessions is this: because of a bad experience in the past, they don’t like taking photos or don’t think they’ll be good at it. By the time I’m done, though, they can’t believe how fast it went and just how much fun they had!
Prepping Your Family
Because they won’t be little forever.
Coordinating the Crew
As you’re coordinating your outfit with your family, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don’t actually “match.” In fact, I recommend that you avoid thinking about “matching,” and instead think about what “fits” together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through.
How to Mix Colors
The goal for coordinating a family is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more we can mix that up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it’s going to look great all together.
For example, if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square (making navy his dominant color). Your daughter could wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making a soft blue her dominant color) while your son wears light beige pants with navy suspenders and a white button down (making white his dominant color). Now each person has their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the others that will pull all the looks together. This will break up the color visually and highlight each personality. Most of my moms choose their dress first, and then build the rest of the family’s outfits based around that.
Remember, I recommend selecting those softer, lighter tones and avoiding those ultra-bright, bold colors. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too.That softer color palette fits beautifully into a natural environment, and can easily be paired in so many different ways.
Mixing Up the Pieces
If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and flats, while the other wears a skirt and boots. One of your sons could wear a bowtie, while the other one wears suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring a great visual interest to the photos.
Prepping Your Little Ones
Before your session, pack a bag with snacks, water and any small objects (like toys or lollipops) that might help me get their attention when it’s time for them to look at the camera. If they are old enough to understand you, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what’s to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behavior. A lot of families discuss and pick something fun in advance as a treat after the session if they’re good listeners, like an ice cream cone, for example. It also helps if their bellies are full and they’ve has some good rest beforehand. Once you prepare them physically and mentally, then feel free to give them (and you!) grace! They’re little, and I know that some days don’t always go as planned. I have seen it all and will make sure to get you great photos, regardless of their moods. My goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family!
* helpful resources from experience + AMY and Jordan Photography*
I had the best time with Alec and Liza during their maternity session at the state house! I love being able to capture the beauty of that growing baby belly for them. Walking through this part of their journey has been so humbling and these two are the sweetest souls ever!
It's the stories that I open in my inbox that draws me to you. It's getting to know why you picked your "person", why you know you can do this ONE life with this ONE person. It's when you hear a song and your mind goes straight to them, it's when you watch cheesy love movies, those one liners that get you ( I mean hello Sweet Home Alabama "So I can kiss you anytime I want!") or when your about to be a mom or already have kiddos that love that SHARK SONG (if you know what song I'm talking about it bless it) I know it sounds crazy but I love to get to know my clients, if its from photographing your maternity portraits to the big wedding day to wanting to grab a drink and just talk about whatever is going on in life. When I first started out about 5 years ago, I felt like I compared myself to everyone around me, especially in photography land and in normal day to day to life. I wanted to end up with this huge business and travel all around the world and do it fast. I wanted to already be settled down with a family and kids and eat Sunday meals around the table. I wanted to tell a story just like the ones that entered my inbox. I felt someway that social media made life look perfect when I felt like mine was the farthest from it. I always thought to myself how can I relate to my clients when my journey in life is not like theirs. The thing was and still is my life did a big 180 and it was and still is the Lord's plan. I went through an engagement that was not made for me, I changed careers in the medical field after being somewhere for 8 years, learned what a real friend is, that family is not just blood but the ones that are there for you when stuff hits the fan, being an aunt that can make a difference, trying to figure out how to be great girlfriend and hope one day a loving wife. So when I tell my story, it may seem a little all over the place but if didn't happen then I would not be where I am now. I'm still learning but I did realize I wasn't serving my business, my passion the right way in the past and had to learn that in order to LOVE what I do and do good at what I LOVE I had to treat others the way I wanted to be treated and learn to be patient. I finally went into life all together wanting to know the people, talking about THEM and involving them in my life. I started to notice that it showed in my work life and my home life. So when you hit the send button on your email or text, tell me your story! I'll be here ready to read and enjoy the whys.
"It started when you said hello...."
Oh how I love anniversary sessions! Getting to see these two again and catching up with them was so much fun!! When planning their session I wanted to change it and ask them a few questions for the newly engaged and married couples. I have watched over the year Ronnie & Angela marriage grow and they are the most down to earth, funny & sweetest people!
Did you feel like the first year flew by?!
* YES! In a blink of an eye. But they always say, time flies when you are having fun.
What’s different for the two of you going from engaged to married?!
* sharing responsibilities i.e. bills, income, chores around the house. It’s no longer “you do this and I do this” type deal. You do things together as a team.
What do you see as the strengths as a married couple?
* Communication is key! Always communicate and discuss issues with one another. Trust one another and love each other unconditionally.
What’s the favorite part of each of yalls day as a married couple?
* Ronnie: coming home to my wife 😊
* Angela: having someone that I love to experience life with, each and every day!
Did you take any big trips during the first year?
* we went to Hawaii for our honeymoon, in February we traveled to Colorado to ski/snowboard for a week, and we took a nice mountain trip for our one year anniversary. (I was busy finishing up nursing school in between lol).
What advice do you have for the upcoming engaged couples? (The good the bad the ugly the truth)
* Ronnie: “ don’t spend too much money on a wedding.” 😂
* Angela: “ Engagements go by fast, so have fun and enjoy it! But most of all trust one another, love each other and always remember the reason why you chose to marry one another in the first place.”
The biggest question all my clients ask me is what they should wear to their session?! When I first started photography I honestly thought anything you wanted was fine. Over the years I learned that it DOES MATTER for both people! When you really think about it, when do you get to be in front of a camera and not behind it or taking a selfie?? So it may seem a little silly but when you are planning your engagement, anniversary or just updated professional pictures, I really say get into "going all out!" Buy that dress that you want your soon to be hubby to see you in or dress up for that 5 year anniversary session!! When I first started recommending having hair and makeup done I thought my clients would look at me like I was crazy! What I found out though is that everyone ended up WAY happier with their portraits and felt more confident during their shoot! As for the fellas, they ended up having a great time spinning their loved one around and bringing her in real close which made for AMAZING and UNPOSED images! So when you plan your next professional photo session with your photographer just take a minute and spice things up! You'll be HAPPY that you did!