Wednesday, June 29, 2011

picture perfect.

let me just paint the scene of where this blog is being written:
i'm in skinny jeans & a blue vintage crop tshirt i got somewhere far far away. the buzz cut i sported last year, just to see if i could do it, has become about three inches longer by now. i run my hands through it as i sit on the floor to begin this.

the sweltering georgia heat hasn't touched me today, finding solace in the most wonderful air conditioning vent on my toes, but my face bears evidence of the last 9 days, when the sun brought out the freckles, just across my nose and cheeks, reminding me of when we played in the woods, all capturing on our camera, pieces of ourselves we wanted to remember...

i'm exhausted - the kind that takes weeks to catch up on. i've dubbed this 'travel tired', because i'm 99.87345% sure it's a different kind & at this particular moment i know i'm feeling it with extra exhaustion, as i'm just about to hop into the car w/ karrah and raleigh and drive 20-24 hrs. back 'home'.

i'm sitting in a pile of my own bags that are sitting in a pile of other peoples' bags. my feet barely peek out from the heaps of things and props and costumes and cameras and computers that line the entire floor of alex's room.

the melancholy slips into the morning when i accept that all of these things i am sitting upon are slowly disappearing, as people begin to leave, because our trip (this trip) has finally coming to an end. everyone grabs a quick bite to eat from whatever is left in the kitchen and we slowly begin to trickle out. hugs, smiles, phone number exchanges, and poof... we are gone, scattering to the wind, with our dreams and gleaming eyes. maybe we will see each other again, maybe not.

the last years (maybe 3?) i've become accustomed to more than my fair share of airport goodbyes, kitchen goodbyes, driveway goodbyes, waving, hugs, etc...

whenever they are about to happen i just tell myself 'ash, hug them, turn around and thank your lucky stars you got to have another experience. learn from this, apply it to your life, and smile smile smile smile smile, because you are luckier than you know'. | i always try to balance this bittersweet reality with how amazing the interim was/is/will be. the "hello' moments and everything that leads up to the moment i drive away. that's the pulp of my entire life - all of those moments...

these days, i so often find myself in foreign places, beds, kitchens, forests, somewhere so far outside of a normal reality, in the wild side of living - both outside and from within. these places speak to me, and all feel more like 'home' than home really feels these days.
they say the secret to life is to just 'keep letting go', and to be honest - i'm 100% in agreement, and for the most part, this is how i live my life, but the challenge always arises in putting that into action when hearts become involved. i love these places i visit, these people i meet, these beds that are warm, these kitchens with so much life & laughter in them, where we sit until the late hours when we all just fall asleep sideways on a bed or couch or floor, halfway covered in sweatshirts and needing showers.

this trip was no different and i leave giving thanks for what i've seen, the moments my muscles will always remember, and finally: for the moments i captured on camera. those are what i'm excited to share (in the coming days) before the next big thing and those images, sitting on cards, are what i have as evidence it all really happened.

most thankful for everything, i'm signing off and hopping into the car... thank you, georgia. you've been a peach.

and that is what (that is all) i know for sure.

a tiny visual narrative until i get home from about .00000001 percent of my time here:

the tickets for karrah's ticket dress:

molly in karrah's ticket dress at the fox theatre shoot:

my beautiful soultwin from alabama/texas, sam, editing one night:

raleigh, one of the funniest people i know:

my feet (in legwarmers ;) on everyone's piles of things, as i write this blog...


at an abandoned house that raleigh, myself, alex and karrah played all day at (so many images from 'dustbowl' to come from this location. i am standing in the window, as raleigh reflects light onto me, as karrah photographs from outside the window:

karrah photographing me (in a nightgown she was still wearing from earlier in the day when i photographed HER for 'dustbowl') from the ladder outside (another vantage of the previous shot)

one of the many foster dogs we stayed with when at Alex's house:

karrah, alex, raleigh, making a candy dress for an upcoming shoot:

everyone making candy dress:

myself & my new heartbeat, rosie (a rescue this family is fostering) one night just before bed:

ash x

Saturday, June 18, 2011


happy father's day dad.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Helping one person heals the world. | Calling all photogs.

two things before i begin:
1.) please read all of this. a few paragraphs in and it'll read itself. i promise.
2.) i suck at commas. i know... and i've come to embrace it. ;)

well. get out your boxes of Kleenex because this is just one of those posts that i've a feeling will pull at your heart strings.

my mother arrived home yesterday evening w/ a story that left me aching inside, and after a lot of back and forth within myself about what i could possibly do to help with what some might call a hopeless situation, i had an idea.

*enter this blog post. enter art. enter you & me.

now, before i get to that i want to share something i fundamentally believe in:
art (any medium/from the heart) has the ability to shift one's thinking & change us at our core. it comes from the core of us, which is a powerful place. art is beautiful for this reason (and for many others) - because it makes us question our lives and our ideals & can awaken (or re-awaken) us, reminding us of what is important and perhaps save us from what is not. at the end of the day, it can transform. we are in an industry that more often than not already knows this. still, it's good to be reminded.

over the years i have received letters from people all over the globe who have shared their own stories of personal hardship with me (a total stranger) - expressing to me that my artwork (in their case) had stirred something in them. i became an artist simply because creating had that effect on me, but it's through these emails and over the years, that i've grown to understand how the power of our own messages (our vision) can affect the lives of others; of strangers.

so, kleenex boxes. grab them.

alright, here it is:
my mother got home yesterday and updated me on a story about a family friend that has a terminal condition and who is (as of last night) suffering, greatly. she has been very sick for some time, but in my mother's recent visit, it became apparent how much more dire the situation has become.

to respect this woman's privacy, i will omit her name, but i want to share with you a very short part of her life, in hopes that you might help me w/ something i've never done before, with artwork.

this woman is just shy of her 50th birthday, with a disease that is congenital and very rare in adults.

she has had 18 surgeries, is on dialysis every 3 days, deals weekly with blood transfusions, lab testing, terrible chronic pain, is on a slew of debilitating meds (in themselves) and because of these disorders (and so many i just cannot begin to cover) is confined to her home - a city apartment where she must stay to continue receiving care in the way that she needs, just to live.

but, here's the kicker that i just cannot get past: she's alone. she doesn't really have anyone.

now, obviously when i heard this story (with my bleeeeeding heart) i wanted to bend the sky and stars and barter w/ nature about what could be done, and i don't know... just HELP HER in some small way with so little idea as to how. i can't take away this woman's illness. perhaps at this point, noone can. that's not my area of expertise, though, and i'm going to choose to believe otherwise.

but, in thinking on it tonight (a lot), I am also pretty sure i'm not totally helpless in doing something.

well, what can an artist do? what could i possibly do for this woman (even for a day or two hours) to liven her spirits (which at this point are incredibly low/too low/unbearably low) ?

she loves ART. i happen to know she loves it.
and the thing about art is that it's got a beautiful momentum, and ... it heals.

i'm going to surprise her with one of my prints. i'm going to choose my favorite print of them all - something from my heart & and bring it to her. it's that simple.

here's why i'm sharing this story with all of you:
i was thinking for those who were as moved as i was/am by this story, that you might want to add to that folder i am bringing her, with one of your own prints. i think in cases like this, it's the thought that counts more than anything, and i don't think it matters the size or the subject matter, or the paper (or bla bla bla) but just...that there is something from the heart intended as a gift to this woman.

if you'd like to help me in just bringing this person, who is very much struggling, a little bit of beauty - please drop me a note on facebook or email me at: and i will get you an address to send a print of your own to add to that gift. there is quite a message in numbers, as well as through our vision, and i am calling my network to add to that (very personal & poignant) message. that's what i'd like to do for her. for now, that's all i can do for her.

it's my hope that i can go to her house before i leave for europe (mid july) w/ a folder of beautiful prints of all sorts of different stories, ideas, signatures, etc... - from all over the globe and say: "these people just wanted you to have these."

and i just know (regardless of circumstance) she'd smile; that for at least a short time her thoughts wouldn't be about being ill, or feeling pain or fear (she is), or about how she is going to get through even one more day, but maybe just maybe she'd get to feel special and the energy boost of a lifetime.

and, i have a feeling, with as much energy as being terminally ill takes out of anyone, that this might just be what she needs. if nothing else, it's worth a damn try. remember why you picked up a camera? remember when it pulled you in and you fell in love with art? do you remember the reasons why you began to do what you do? don't forget the importance in all of it.

so, why help a stranger - someone you've never met?
...well, why not?

and, because maybe one day you might find yourself in a similar boat and wish you had something to boost your spirits. maybe one day this will be your mother or sister or wife or maybe as you read this, you realize it already is and it'll really speak to you. but honestly, even if you are never touched by anything in your life that is this trying or seemingly hopeless (i hope you never are) you now know of one person who is.

at this moment, she's alone. and, she feels it.
she does not know i'm posting this.

***quick notes: things to bear in mind: her place is very small, so perhaps little pieces might even be better. perhaps something she could put near her in a journal or folder, to be on hand at any moment.

additionally, we aren't all artists with gallery representation, agents, or 1000000000000 dollar cameras. it doesn't matter if this is some fine art piece. do you have a snapshot that you love, that you took w/ a point & shoot? awesome.
this isn't about flashy this or that. if you want to contribute, contribute.
that's my two cents. are you an artist in your heart? good. that's enough times 10.

the message carries. the message always carries.

And, as for me, i am getting her a big one. i want her to have at least one piece she can jump inside of. so, i'll see to the big one if a 4x6 is what works best for you.

and, even if there are only 5 people in the wrrrrrld that choose to send something over, for a woman you will never meet, i know i am in absolutely incredible company. in contrast, think if there were a thousand. i'd weep.

email me.

ash x


ps. for those that made it this far, without a single photo, i adore you.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Woman's Retreats | BTS Imagery | COED Retreat | Workshops!

Well, the time has come, friends!

My first woman's photography & wellness retreat concluded just a few weeks ago, and let me just say this: It was a weekend to remember. There are fun weekends, but this was something different. These are not only incredibly fun, but also moving and intimate weekends. You will come as a stranger (I did) and you will leave with a bunch of best friends. I am quite sure all who came not only left inspired with a renewed perspective, new images, and some 'oomph', but also as good friends. There is something almost magical when a bunch of women gather, that are like minded, to create and to renew and it was an honor to have led that and to have been able to be a part of it. Thank you to my new friends Merrilyn, Sam, Lianne, Ella, Brooke and Karrah for being the brave first few. I adore each of you, to pieces.

So, I'm going to hop right in, as I have so much to cover regarding this last retreat (including the BTS imagery which really speaks for itself) as well as touch on the next retreat and even on next years COED weekend. I'm excited for these upcoming events, and it's my hope that through offering these few upcoming weekends that I get to meet as many of you as possible, who are looking to connect and grow through life and through creating imagery, in a forum that is founded on no pressure and getting back to one's roots, as you reconnect with yourself and with your creativity.

As of this blog post, enrollment is officially open for both retreats, and spaces are already becoming limited for both.

So, let's get to it. There are so many images and I think they are a better narrative than much of what I could say without them. Is a picture worth a thousand words? In this case, I think so. :)

~ Taken at my first Woman's Retreat, May 13-16th, 2o11 ~


So, when is the next Women's Retreat?

*When: October 28th - October 31st, 2011 (a friday night - monday morning)

*Where: Retreats take place on the North Shore of Minnesota (Lake Superior) in a luxury 3500 sq. ft. cabin that offers three bedrooms, three baths, a private beach, expansive views of the lake, a flat screen television, jacuzzi, and fireplace. Additional cabins of the same description will be added depending on the number of registrants.

The location, while luxury, is also very remote and at the mouth of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (one of my favorite places on Earth). To get a better idea of the atmosphere of the Boundary Waters and to see imagery of the actual cabins we stayed/stay in, please view THIS BLOG where I go into depth about the atmosphere of the Earth up there as well as the landscape.

*Tuition: $800.00/person or if you are willing to bunk w/ someone (yes you can come in a group of two / come with a friend ;) for $950.00, you are able to split the cost of attending down the middle, bringing each of your individual costs for the WHOLE weekend down to $475.00 per person.

*Deposit: Half of tuition is due to at time of registration to secure your spot. Once registered you will be sent a welcome packet as well as a Q&A regarding your weekend. Once fully paid you will be sent the address to our location. The retreat locations are kept a secret to not only ensure our safety, but also to maintain the intimacy and integrity of these weekends. The rest of tuition is due no later than 3 weeks prior to the event. I wanted to post this early enough (still 5 months away!) to give everyone a chance to have this be affordable, allowing enough time to secure your spot and pay the rest down the road.

*What's the layout of the weekend?

Friday: Arrival. You will be able to arrive and settle into the cabin as you enjoy a home made dinner with views of the lake. The food during this weekend is delicious and fresh. Several attendees from the first retreat have requested I put together a 'retreats cookbook'. ;)

Saturday: A day of wellness. The morning begins with a home made breakfast and then introductions, as we get to know one another and enter into our weekend. The day is filled with wellness activities led by myself and designed to allow you to not only unwind, but also to get back in touch w/ yourself. The process of creating (imo) is very tightly wound with being able to connect with who you are, and so Day 1 is all about who you are and renewing that connection. In life we often lose that link with how fast life tends to flow with things like work and being overworked and deadlines. That's also why I've chosen such a remote location; so that it really does give you a 72 hour break from life and the opportunity to recharge. We all need it to be better photographers and we all deserve it. After a homemade lunch, we finish introductions and continue wellness activities and a few secret things I have planned, while each person gets the opportunity for a massage. We head into the evening with an incredibly good (and again homemade) dinner, before a night of another top secret activity ;)


A day of shooting!

After our homemade breakfast, you can watch as my MUA and model prepare for our long day of shooting. Once ready, I will lead the group, allowing attendees to watch how I shoot and watch how I work with a model, before everyone gets their own opportunity to shoot as well. My MUA/MODEL/LOCATION/PROPS are all provided. I bring a widely adaptable idea to the shoot, with many props and areas to shoot so that you are allowed to mold it into your own concept, very easily. I also will teach (as this is how I shoot) a variety of my favorite natural lighting techniques and teach you how to make the most of shooting on location, regardless of time of day, and natural lighting elements/challenges.

After shooting wraps, we head back inside for a homemade dinner (these days are long and fun and you are going to be hungry) and a night of editing.

Monday: After we wake and enjoy our last homemade meal, there's another very quick top secret activity before you are free to depart as your itinerary demands.

*What does tuition cover?

all meals
retreat materials
wellness activities
shooting/model(s)/location/makeup artistry/wardrobe, etc...

*What doesn't tuition cover?

travel to and from the location (ie: gas/airfare/driving/etc...)
phone calls from the cabin


A few shots made by attendees at my first woman's retreat!

My image from the retreat ... (& thank you to Karrah for being such a great model!)

photo below by: Ella Grace Bell

photos below by Sam Nandez

photo below by merrilyn romen

photos below by Lianne Viau

photo below by Brooke Anne Reynolds

For those who would like to participate in my next all women's retreat, please email me: or feel free to message me on facebook or RSVP TO THIS GROUP

Spaces available: 7-14

My last event sold out in just under 24 hours, and I anticipate this one will book very quickly.
I have increased the number of available spots to allow more people to attend as well as to allow people to come in groups of two if they choose.


***Now, just to touch on my COED retreat.

My COED retreat will take place in MAY of 2012. (exact dates, tbd)
Tuition is the same ($800.00)
The format will differ slightly from these all women retreats to better accommodate the needs of a COED group.

I am accepting deposits now for my COED retreat, as well.

Spaces available for coed retreat: 5-7

Please email: or message me on facebook to secure your spot.



I will be accepting deposits for workshops within the week, so please stay tuned.

Workshops will range between 3-400 dollars and will be one on one in 4 areas of focus and will take place over several sessions online over a course of several days. If you'd like to secure your spot for a workshop, deposit is half of the course fee. Thus far, I have nearly 400 workshop signups, so these offerings will be first come, first serve the moment they become available.

Please email me at: to secure your spot w/ a deposit.
Workshops are more intensive (teaching/interacting/lesson plans/FUN) and are able to be taken from anywhere in the world, for those who cannot travel, and who desire to follow a specific curriculum. retreats are more hands on. workshops are more intensive, masterclasses.

Again, I will be blogging about full details of workshops (likely tomorrow or friday) but feel free to message to put down a deposit, securing your place in line.

Ash x

Thank you!