By Ashley Manley on | No Comments
"Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place."
Journey. It’s a funny thing, right? The first time I picked up a DSLR, almost 5 years ago, I never imagined I’d be where I am now with it. I thought it would be a hobby, maybe a part-time business at some point, but never a tool to help me find out who I am…as a mom, artist, and human.
After learning to shoot technically correct photos with perfect exposure and focus, the next logical step, I thought, was to have a business. Because a photography business, in my mind, meant success. So I had a business, I had great clients, but something was missing.
I was constantly shooting for what I thought other people expected. Worried about others liking my images more than I did. Filling my calendar with sessions because, in my mind, a full calendar meant I was onto something. It meant I was good, or at least good enough.
And then, one day, I just changed my mind. I decided I didn’t like business, I was bad at the game of social media, and being hired to take photos of other people wasn’t my cup of tea. It was a relief. Like so many things, when the pressure was off, I felt more at ease and creativity came so much more effortlessly.
The journey of photography is different for everyone. You might love business, you might hate it. You might love posing families or you might prefer the art of macro snowflakes. If you haven’t learned it yet, let me be the one to sweetly sing to you, that’s okay. It’s okay to make photography what you need it to be and to go your own way.
So, from a girl that doesn’t have a business or follow any of the guidelines of any sort of rules or work with branding, I’m so excited to be spending time with you this week and sharing some of the weird and creative things that make me tick.
As far as my photography goes, my shooting time is filled with whatever my life is and feels like in that particular moment. Sometimes it feels airy and focused and sometimes it’s dark and blurred…that’s art in my life. But, no matter what I’m filling the frame with, I make sure that I do it in a way that feels creatively authentic to me. I love to experiment, make weird things happen in my camera, and create Bob Ross-style ‘happy accidents.’ From scarves to baggies to glass objects - my camera bag is a bit of a grab bag of creative oddities.
And, just a few tidbits for those of you that are like me and love random facts: I shoot with a fuji xt2 and 23mm lens (it’s all I own!), I love coffee (black), wine (red), and the crockpot. I live on a small farm in Central Illinois with my 2 young and wild kids and my fiercely supportive husband. Camping, yoga, and the beach are my happy places and I love the sound of a harmonica.
I’m so excited to get to know you this week, am honored to be featured by Pretty Presets and look forward to sharing my journey while learning all about yours. Let’s do this! xo
P.S. all of these self-portraits were edited with Teddy Bear from the Bella Baby Collection (some turned black and white).
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Ashley is a midwest photographer that spends her days chasing light and little ones with her camera in hand. You can see collections of her work on her website or on her instagram.