In this moment, as I enjoy a moment of silence here at home by myself, I’m feeling totally blessed and amazed at all the past 4 years have brought into my life. 4 years ago, a little test presented me with the news that a sweet baby would be entering our lives. This. Changed. Everything.
I was scared and excited, but to be honest, more worried than anything else. I was carefree and financially unstable. Takeout and shopping don’t support a healthy savings account after all. With a short time to get our finances in order and our household baby ready, James and I somehow evolved from reckless 20 somethings (or so we though!) to home owners and full time working parents. Careers. Low paying jobs. Late nights. What do I do with my life? I knew that putting my education on hold was the LAST thing I wanted to do, but I had made academic choices in the past that left me with more loan debt than I ever wanted and more confused than ever.
I’m not sure how things fall into my lap, and I’m pretty sure I’m not worthy sometimes but my photography journey has not been a sweet little walk in the park. This is how it began…
As fast pace as our lives have become I didn’t want my early memories of Lily be forgotten. I took thousands of pictures of her. I took so many pictures that I should have been getting paid for it. Guess what? That’s where Bella Baby Photography came in.
Eastern Maine Medical Center was the reason I found photography. With the birth of our daughter, this little photography seed began to sprout in my mind. A sweet girl came into my hospital room and asked if she could take my daughter’s pictures. Free? Yes. Adorable? Yes. this lifestyle approach to photography triggered something in my brain. I had the brilliant idea after one long night at the Olive Garden to contact this company, and tell them I NEEDED the job, that I didn’t have any formal training but that I was a fast learner and passionate. Guess what? They hired me. On the spot. Why? I have no idea. But I do know this, that first year of shooting professionally was the first building block for me and I will be forever grateful for Mike and Jessica Bettencourt- my boss’s in Ohio who gave me, an amateur photographer the chance to actually grow into a professional!
2 years ago, after leaving Bella Baby, a sweet client said something that had not even registered in my mind. “Ashley, why don’t you just start your OWN photography business?” Um, chyeah! That was the moment! If it wasn’t for Heather Evans.. my very first clients, I would not be doing this today. (Heather, thank you for those supportive words and motivation. I owe you for all of this!) Today I’ve shot over 220 sessions. can you believe that?! I do not have a photography degree, but I have totally worked my butt off to get where I am today and I’m darn proud of it. I didn’t know the first thing about running a business or marketing back then. So guess what? I researched. I read article after article, blog after blog. Interview after interview. Took out of state workshops. I read books on lighting and lenses. I stayed up night after night reading tips on shooting in natural light and the difference between every single canon lens. I don’t think I slept for that first year. I spent my days with Lily and every night with my laptop and my camera. Although, as much studying and opinions I read nothing would prepare me like actually going out and shooting. As my business began to grow so did my techniques and skills.
I’m always still learning and evolving, and although I feel totally defeated sometimes, I can’t help but be so content today. I’ve fought so many insecurities within myself and stood my ground in this extremely competitive market. After all, there are over 30 photographers in Bangor alone! I know this hasn’t always been easy for my family with all of my crazy hours and frustrations, but thank you ALL for the support over these past few years.
I’ve been so blessed this summer with more shoots than ever & the ability to photograph a ton of weddings alongside Sierra Jackson. I haven’t totally found my place in the photography world and am still learning how to balance life, photography, school and my family but I’m so glad that God has blessed me with this journey in life. I’m even more grateful for all of my amazing clients for supporting me and trusting me to document your beautiful families. You are what is making my dreams come true!
(August 2010, My very first session!)