I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this blog post. I recently received the edited photos from the shoot I did a couple weeks back with the mindblowingly (no, that’s not a real word) talented Ashley Marie Art & Photography. I have no words. This is rare.
Before continuing, let me just share my favourite photo from the shoot, I’m sure that this will speak for itself!
Ashley created magic. The butterflies in this photo totally symbolize the feelings that flutter around in my stomach when looking at this photo, and it in fact leaves me feeling quite emotional.
I’ve done uncountable photo shoots in my life, all being very lifestyle orientated, and I knew that when Ashley and I started chatting that for me this would be out of my comfort zone, and out of the norm for me. However, I knew that it would be special and a masterpiece.
We decided on a Grecian/Roman theme. Which was absolutely perfect for a mother and son shoot like this. I am so excited to have this printed and framed to have up as a beautiful piece of artwork in my home.
I told Ashley that I had never before looked at a photograph from a shoot that I did and seen myself the way that she has captured me. I actually felt beautiful. It made me feel proud of the mother that I have become and grown into to see my little boy and myself in these photographs.
A huge thank you to the very talented and creative Sam Ellenberger for the phenomenal hair and makeup that she just so eagerly jumped on board to do without any hesitation! It was a power team, and there was just no holding back! See Sam’s makeup page here: http://www.facebook.com/samellenbergermakeupartistry
As you can tell, Ashley comes from a fine art background. She adds her little touches of magic in every photo she works with. By looking at a photo, you know instantly that it is her work! Just like any famous painter or musician.
Please do read her Q&A below to find out more about her, and if you would like to have some photos of you with your children taken, you can contact her on the platforms mentioned at the end of her Q&A. You won’t regret it!
Photography, retouching, and art direction: Ashley Marié (www.facebook.com/AshleyMarieArtAndPhotography)
Assistant: Melissa Wyngaard Makeup and hair: Sam Ellenberger (www.facebook.com/samellenbergermakeupartistry)
Models: Oliver and Lisa Harrison
Q&A WITH ASHLEY MARIE ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
1. When did you first realize that you could make magic with a camera?
I suppose it was while still at university. Photography was never really something I had considered before but in our first year we had the opportunity to play with pinhole photography (an old school method from the beginning of photography that, in a nutshell, involves a box sealed off from all light with a pinhole in the middle and a piece of unexposed photo paper inside at the back. A primitive form of camera really). I loved the developing process especially, and watching the photo appear on the blank paper as if by magic. The same when later we started shooting film and developing and enlarging the negatives. I started to also realise I preferred the seemingly more “immediate” result it gave, seeing what was already there and then manipulating it into what I wanted it to be. And to this day I guess I love the developing part of photography as much as I love taking the photo, if not more even.
2. How old were you when you picked up your first camera?
I remember playing with old broken cameras as a kid (Polaroid’s and brownies) but truthfully, I can’t quite recall the age I was when I took my first photo. It was no doubt in high school sometime, and likely with a disposable. I had no idea what I was even doing. I always liked the idea of taking a photo but honestly, I had little to zero interest in photography purely because I had no knowledge of what could be done with it. It was only in university when we were introduced to fine art photographers and I discovered online photo sites like DeviantART that my interest piqued. So I’m going to say I was likely only about 19 or 20 when I picked up my first camera. Properly, at any rate.
3. What inspires you to keep going in this industry?
Inspiration is hard to come by. I don’t rely on it to stay motivated. I just keep on keeping on because at the end of the day, when I’m creating, that is when I am at my happiest. In spite of the late nights and headaches and tired muscles, I can’t see myself doing anything else. Art is all I have ever known. I’ve grown up with it, it’s part of my identity so giving it up would be giving up on who I am as a person. I like to joke that if art didn’t exist, neither would I. I firmly believe it’s my calling and a God given gift and therefore my duty to keep going.
4. What makes your photography stand out in the industry, and what makes it unique to you?
I think my photography stands out because it’s more art than what most people believe is photography by definition. I’m very experimental with my work. I’d even go as far as to say that I wouldn’t call myself a photographer even, at least not in the true sense of the word. I guess I’m more an artist who uses photography as my medium. Any artist will tell you that they put their soul into everything they create, and that’s what makes it unique to each of us individually.
5. Three facts about you…
Hmmm… Three facts… 1. I’m Tolkien mad. 2. If I wasn’t an artist I’d probably have become an historian. And thirdly… I talk to myself. Out loud and on shoots especially. I have to warn my models that unless I’m looking them in the eye, I’m likely just talking to myself or my camera.
6. A little paragraph on family life.
Just me, my mom and my big sis (who is currently living in London.) We’re a small but close knit family. My mom is also an artist (she paints) which is great if I ever need quick creative input or encouragement.
7. What is your favourite content to photograph?
I come from a fine art background, so almost anything fine art related really, although I find people seem to be the main subject. They always add a point of interest to me. I love trying to find the right model to fit my concept or the right concept to fit my model. I’m always aiming to emulate paintings where possible. The word photography is rooted in Greek, and basically means light (photo) and drawing (graph), so essentially – drawing with light. I love that idea! And that I possess an ability to draw a person with light. It makes it seem magical and gives it such a romantic flare for me.
8. Your retouching and artistic side of your photos is mind blowing; how do you decide on how you will create each of your masterpieces?
Sometimes I don’t decide until I’m sitting with the file opened in Photoshop and start playing around with it. Other times again my idea is there but then, while sitting with said file on my screen, the whole concept can suddenly change to something unplanned. Like with our shoot – firstly I had planned a different way to light it but that backlight at the time was just too beautiful and so I changed that. Afterwards it felt like there was something missing from the images and that there was maybe too much green but just changing the colour did nothing for me. Then suddenly the idea of adding butterflies popped into my head. Three versions later and we end up with these final images. I knew right from the beginning though that I wanted a Grecian theme for you and Olly. I could just perfectly picture you in a Grecian styled dress and him in a little toga! (Even though technically the latter is Roman of origin.)
I basically just spend a lot of time experimenting and creating drafts. I also have a little black book of ideas I jot thoughts down in, however silly they sound. They’re all seeds that can grow into better ideas. Some grow slower than others again, but I never really stop “watering” them (ie. spend time researching and thinking about them) even if I maybe neglect them for a while. It helps to always stay open to ideas however big, small, or stupid they may sound. The ones that speak to you are the ones that stick with you. Ideas can be hidden in a word, a lyric, a face, or nature. Once while on a shoot I saw an orange leafed tree and immediately decided I was going to grab a very specific model, dress, and some props and create another portrait with that tree as our backdrop! Unfortunately organising shoots aren’t always that simple, especially if you’re very particular about what you want and so timing doesn’t always work in your favour. I’m still going to shoot this concept though, I just need a new backdrop.
9. Your favourite memory since being in the industry?
I don’t really have one single favourite memory, but one that sticks out the most is of two of the oldest models I’ve had the honour of working with. We shot a story for Gaschette Magazine’s Eternal Youth themed issue with two grandmothers named Sylvia and Trudy. The way they lit up and the fun that was had was inspiring! It was such a wonderful feeling making them feel glamorous and turning them into fashion models at their age. Sylvia has sadly passed away since, but I will never forget that shoot and how they beamed. This is why I love working with people, why I particularly enjoy portraiture. If I can make someone feel as beautiful as they are, and who’s presence is important in this world, if I can show them this… then I have achieved something.
10. When you aren’t shooting and editing, what are you doing with your time?
Hahahaha! The question should not be “When you are not?” but rather, “when are you not!?” When I’m not shooting, I’m editing. When I’m not editing, I’m shooting. Nah I’m kidding. I do have time off in between because I believe it’s important, and during this time I’m visiting with friends and the boyfriend and going for forest walks and hikes. I love reading too, so I try get this in when I can. And when and where I can – ice cream plays an integral part in the relaxation process! I tend to doodle a lot too. More digitally (in Photoshop) than actual drawing. Many ideas have stemmed from doodling, as was the case with my Flower Portrait series.
11. What can we expect from ‘Ashley Marie Art & Photography’ in the next 2 years?
It’s a secret. Only kidding, no it isn’t but I’m still wrapping my head around a few ideas and ventures I’d like to try but will share when I have something more solid. Hopefully it’ll involve more travel in and around South Africa and internationally. I want to start concentrating more on fine art portraiture.
12. How can we keep up to date with your latest work, specials and news?
My website is currently non-existent unfortunately and under re-construction, but I am working on this and it will be announced and shared on my social media pages that people can follow in the meantime. My Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/AshleyMarieArtAndPhotography, and you can also follow my work on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/ashleymariefoto, where I also share behind the scenes and sneak peeks in my Instagram Stories. Also keep an eye out for when I get my Patreon up and running. It’s a site where people can become patrons to artists to help fund projects from as little as $1 a month, and get rewards from the artist in turn such as discounts and exclusive content.
13. Do you ever sell any of your pieces? If yes, how can people view and purchase?
I do, I am still setting up that platform properly, but in the meantime anyone interested to purchase a print or book a shoot is welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. My work is up on all my social media sites!
IN CLOSING, A GIGANTIC THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME IN CREATING THIS AMAZING ART PIECES OF MY LITTLE PERSON AND MYSELF. WE HAVE BEEN SO BLESSED TO HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH YOU! ANOTHER THING TICKED OFF MY BUCKET LIST.
One Modern Mom x