Catching Up

It's been a pretty hectic 2018 so far; it's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times (that winter, amiright?) I spent the last 4 months digging through the last semester of my photography program, which meant countless hours in the studio and computer lab: shooting, editing, printing, crying, laughing, you know, all the good stuff. It also meant a lot of things fell on the back-burner like my friends, my website and my backlog of editing that wasn't school related. But here I am, trying to play catch up, and tell you a little about what's been going on and what's coming down the pipeline.

We had an end of the year photography show for my program, which we had to submit photos to and they were judged anonymously by a panel of industry, winners to be unveiled at our show. The show itself included speeches and awards and a red carpet, it was a pretty nice way to tie up our program, getting to spend one final night all together in one room. We hired my friend and wonderful photographer Courtney Michaud to photograph the event, so I've got a few gems to share courtesy of her. 

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Those are two of my instructors, and myself and JR being very mature behind them. 

I was named Valedictorian of my class and was told I had to write a speech, and got to deliver it with one of my best friends JR Kingdon. Here is he doing his best Trump impression while I pretend to look at my notes so I don't have to look at the full auditorium looming out in front of me. I wrote the speech with hopes to make someone cry, and I know at least one person did, so mission accomplished. Achieving your goals is important, you know?

We had a bunch of award categories, and I managed to walk away having snagged a choice few of them. 

Side note: It's weird writing a blog intended to brag a little bit about myself, but my friend said I should, so I'm doing it. I'M DOING IT HANNAH, I HOPE YOU'RE PROUD!

One of these award categories was Portraiture. My two closest friends throughout the whole program, JR & Jay, also shoot portraits, although we all have very distinct styles. We discussed how awesome it would be if we took the portrait category, as there's 3 places and 3 of us. Low and behold, Jay snagged 3rd place, JR took 2nd, and I managed to steal 1st. It happened! Another goal accomplished. 

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This was the photo that won me 1st place in the Portrait category

Model: Bridget Peters, Hair by: Deanna Taylor

Model: Bridget Peters, Hair by: Deanna Taylor

I took 2nd place in both Commercial photography and Fine Art photography categories. Below is my entry for the Commercial category that won. I was really honoured and happy this photo placed, as it's undoubtedly one of the most challenging photographs I've ever done, from shooting it right through to the editing process, it was really difficult, but I was so happy with the outcome. It's nice to have that effort recognized!

Below is the entry that won me 2nd place in Fine Art. It also made its way onto the inside cover of the book that's put together and printed for all the students after the ceremony, which was a cool surprise when I opened it up! The director of my program, Stephen Dominick, also told me the only issue with this photo was that he didn't take it which I will remember always and he can't ever take back.

Pear cutting skills credited to Tyler Hopper. I couldn't have done it with you! 

Pear cutting skills credited to Tyler Hopper. I couldn't have done it with you! 

There was also a Photoshop category, which we had to hand in a composite photograph, which if you don't know, is a mash of numerous photos that can't be shot all in one go. I spent countless hours (I mean I tried to count, but it got out of hand) on my submission, because I was determined to flex my skills and make it the best I could. I won 1st place! This is the final submission that won: 

This is part of a larger series which I'll be blogging about very soon! It also took me at least 20 hours to finish, due to some file management set backs and general difficulties, but it was worth it.  Model: Marah Verutis

This is part of a larger series which I'll be blogging about very soon! It also took me at least 20 hours to finish, due to some file management set backs and general difficulties, but it was worth it. 
Model: Marah Verutis

I also won Portfolio of the Year which was a huge honour, but you can read all about that HERE if you haven't already, so I won't bore you with the details. 

As well, I got to see some of my best friends win awards and be rewarded for their hard work and dedication that I've seen over the same time period. It was amazing getting to spend the evening sharing our hard work with those closest to us.

Here are a couple more cheesy photos for your viewing pleasure:

This is my friend Finn! They won Best of Show for second year, which was well deserved!

This is my friend Finn! They won Best of Show for second year, which was well deserved!

JR was actually just helping me hold my trophies... woops. But he did snag a couple awards too!

JR was actually just helping me hold my trophies... woops. But he did snag a couple awards too!

This is one of my favorite photos! This is the my graduating class for our photography program, and most of our instructors. I insisted we do "one Charlie's Angels shot" and was met with some confused looks initially, which I guess is showing my age a little bit?  But they nailed it!

This is one of my favorite photos! This is the my graduating class for our photography program, and most of our instructors. I insisted we do "one Charlie's Angels shot" and was met with some confused looks initially, which I guess is showing my age a little bit? But they nailed it!

So as for what's down the pipeline? Well, I've recently moved back to Mississauga, and started a job at Nikon Canada! I'm busy shooting whenever I can, trying to make sure I don't get rusty. I've started dipping a toe into film photography as well, and just developed my first roll of film (myself! in a dark room! I smelled like chemicals and it was wonderful.) I've purchased a couple film cameras and am going to continue to dive into it, with the help of my good friend Sara who is going-forward being referred to as Film Sensei. 

My books are open for the summer and I've got some space left for portraits, band shoots, engagements, headshots... anything! I'm excited to create some great images with some wonderful people this summer. I hereby declare this the Summer of Ashley. 

 

2018 Portfolio Project

For those who don't know, I've been in school studying photography for the last 2 years at Niagara College. I just finished up, but part of my last semester was spent creating a 10-piece portfolio on any kind of photography we wanted. We had to develop it over the course of the semester, print it, and present it in front of a 7-person jury and talk about why we created it, and why we loved it. 

Our teacher for the project had no problem telling us something we did wasn't good enough, which I heard a few times over the semester. This process was both amazing and exhausting, but it definitely pushed me to do what I think is my best work thus far. It paid off, as I walked away with first place, and a sweet new Nikon camera. 

Now that it's done and over, and I'm excited to share all the pieces in one space! As part of the project, I had to create a cover page and an artist statement, which I will share as well. I hope you enjoy taking in the result of 3 months of sweat and many shed tears.

Let me know what you think! I'm curious what you really resonated with, or which one your favorite is.

I am humbled by the amount of people willing to give me their time, from modeling or assisting or providing creative services in the way of makeup and hair. I am not an island, and this wouldn't be what it was without the dedication from those around me who helped me uphold my vision every step of the way. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to every one of you who may be reading this.

And for your viewing pleasure, a photo of me winning first place, presented by Mark Cruz from Nikon Canada. I'm grateful that the judges loved the series as much as I loved creating it!

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Best of 2017

I figured the window of time where a 2017 recap is still appropriate is quickly closing, so I'm sliding in there last-minute before it's too late. Otherwise soon it'll be like, Ashley it's June why are you talking about last year?

Sounds like something I would do.

2017 was a crazy year for growth. Between school and building my business, I've seen a huge improvement in where I'm at and where I'm going, and that's so exciting! There are few things more satisfying than being able to see visual proof that we are growing, learning, and moving ahead. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite photos I took this year, and maybe recap why I love them. I hope you'll stick with me here. 

This was my first shoot of 2017. Classic bath-boudior shoot, but it's one of my favorite boudoir shots I've done yet. Tina (IG) is such a wonderful human being, and her colourful personality and look is so fun to capture.

I love New York City for a lot of reasons ($1 pizza, Shake Shack, Broadway) but mostly because of the architecture. I was so excited to get to shoot the Oculus, and it did not let me down.  It's almost overwhelming to take in visually, you can't look at its entireity all at once.

This day in March, my partner and I had gone to Toronto for me to shoot an assignment and I came up completely empty. We were heading back to Union Station and I saw this building. I've shot it a bunch of times since, but this is my favorite shot of it. I noticed a bunch of birds kept doing laps and then sitting for a while. It was decided I was going to wait for this shot, despite the fact that it was cold and my hands were shaking and my partner was a little annoyed with me for making him freeze. He understood once he saw the shot, though.

Everything about this reminds me of spring. Mabel (IG) had never done a photoshoot before, but she was so good. Also, nailing that Rembrandt lighting using the sun made me pretty happy.

I got to shoot Billy Talent this summer, which was a literal dream come true. They were one of the bands that made me fall in love with music and getting to merge my passions in this moment was everything to me. It was a moment that made me wish I could go back to my angsty, confused, sad 12-year-old self and let her know that there will be some cool stuff ahead.

I was able to tick off "have one of my photographs be on an album cover" off my bucket list this year. The Dreamboats used this photo for their new album. You can check out the final album artwork and the songs HERE. They recently gave me a physical copy, and seeing it printed on the cover felt really cool!

This photo is from the first engagement shoot I ever did. Paul & Olivia were great first subjects! This was also the first time I tried the Nikon 105mm f1.4 lens, and realized it was everything I needed in my life. 

One day you'll be mine.

We took this photo in my basement with lightbulbs, white umbrellas, and a grey backdrop. This photo taught me you don't need a fancy set up to make cool things. Work with what you have.

The day previous to this photo being taken, Evan (IG) and I spent hours in the studio trying to nail one photo, just one photo, for a portrait assignment for school. It so clearly wasn't working, and I felt defeated. This was a day where I sat back and wondered if I just actually sucked, or if I was only having an off day. We went home, and I tried to recalibrate. I spent time searching through photographs, trying to find some inspiration. A photo that Annie Leibovitz did for Prada came up, and I was in complete awe. I decided I would try to recreate it in my own way. We went back the next day, and we banged out this shot relatively quickly. 

If I learned anything here, it was that sometimes you need to step away from things, breathe, and try again later.

This shot is different from the rest of my work, and it was so challenging in every way, from the execution in the studio to the composite and editing process. I felt truly accomplished when I finished this photo.

This photo of Michelle (IG) makes me want to pack my bags and go on an adventure. 

I have been really enjoying leaving parts of the surroundings in my photos, letting the raw elements come into frame. We didn't really have any plans when we were shooting this session, but some of my favorite photos came out of it.

I don't even have much to say about this one. I just love it. I love creating art with this woman. (You can see Marah's work here)

After dealing with the emotional ordeal that was my self-portrait assignment for school, I decided I needed an overhaul of the way I talk and treat myself. This self-portrait, which was taken for me and not for school, was the beginning of that. It's me trying to look at myself differently, and celebrating myself. 


And there you have it! Culling this list down was extremely hard, but I figured at some point you'd be bored with me.

Here's the rub though: I can't even show you my absolute favorite shot of 2017.  It's under wraps for a client's project. But believe you me, I'll shout it from the rooftops when I can release it. 

Ball's Falls

Winter adventures are some of my favorite to photograph, even despite the cold. Even despite the fact that I fell in the snow this day. Even despite the fact that my hands were bloody frozen because I hate shooting with gloves on.

Does anyone else feel this way? Do you have special gloves that make you feel more confident in not dropping everything?

P.S. I dropped everything anyway. 

I find something magical about the way the snow looks in photographs, about the softness and crispness in the air, which you can find a way to capture in frame.  Blessed with wonderful, adventurous friends, we trekked off to Ball's Falls to wander around, shoot, and try not to freeze.

Brooke (IG) & Michelle (IG) were our models for this day, but I was accompanied by a couple wonderful photographers as well (Tyler & JR) (We even found someone to snap a group picture!)

You can find this shot ^ and more great ones at JR Kingdon's blog here!

We adventured down near the water, and back up to the church, JR made a snowangel and we all got pretty wet. But I'm excited at the winter adventures to come! 

Christine & Bryan

I'm not sure if I consider myself a helluva romantic, but photographing love seems to really bring that side out in me. I truly enjoy getting to shoot with couples and create honest, and sometimes silly, moments of pure cuteness in front of my lens.

Christine had made it abundantly clear that her and her partner, Bryan, don't like being photographed and it was going to be weird. But I have yet to actually be deterred by anyone who says that to me.

Psst, everyone says that! And they are ALWAYS wrong! Case in point:

I would call myself fairly quirky and silly, so a couples session with me won't be too posed, too cheesy, or stiff. I will talk a lot, give you weird prompts (this shot above is the aftermath of one of those prompts), and try to pull out as many candid laughs as I can. Love is fun, silly, messy, and pure, and I think your photos should reflect that, at least most of the time.

Don't get me wrong, I like a nice posed photo thrown in there though.

In the end, it's most important that you enjoy yourself during a photo session. And I personally have always enjoyed myself too, and hope my clients have as much fun as I do. Christine & Bryan were a blast to shoot with, and I am in love with the photos we captured on that day.

Let me know what you think!

Last of Fall Adventure

Maybe the title of this is a bit hastily written, technically fall isn't over for a month, but as the first snowfall already came and went in Niagara, it's clear that winter is on the sideline, eager to come out and play. 

Our adventure started simply enough, we were shooting a Jeep for an assignment. We chose a spot that maybe we weren't allowed to be in, so said all the No Trespassing signs littered about, but we hopped to, got the assignment done, and then some. Once the job was complete, we kept shooting and wandering about the area, trying to soak in every bit of golden hour and sunset we could. We've been inundated with so many gloomy days that a day like this seemed like it might not come around again for a little while.

I've recently started shooting film, thanks to a friend I made while working at Nikon, Sara, who is teaching me and letting me use her equipment. I'm eager to get the film photos back from this day eventually as well, to see how much they turned out. 

As the leaves are almost all fallen and crumpled on the ground, I'm a little sad to see fall go, but I'm excited at the idea of the snowy wonderland pictures that are in my camera's future.

Ariella

I'm not the most social person so one thing I am grateful to photography for (one of the many) is that it's allowed me to reconnect with people I never knew very well. I had not seen Ariella in years; we went to highschool together but I'm not sure if we ever really had a conversation during that time.

A mutual friend suggested we hook up for a shoot, so Ariella invited me over to her super cute apartment in Toronto for some Ben & Jerry's and we sat down and got to know each other over ice cream. As the sun lowered, I helped her pick out an outfit and get to it, and it was probably my quickest shoot ever. Perhaps it was the relaxed atmosphere, the ice cream, or Ariella's charming personality (probably the latter), but we knocked off the entire first part of the set in no time. After the shoot we headed to a pub to tie off a meal and a pint, and snapped the last few photos en route.

Ariella was a pleasure to shoot, and I'm so happy I was able to connect with her to make these photos. I can't wait to do it again! 

Gear note: Shot with Nikon Df and Nikon 35mm f1.4 lens

P.S. I also took a couple photos of her beautiful kitty, because how could I resist?