Archive for June, 2011

I just love baby’s first year photography. This family hired me for their newborn photography session, a 6-7 month session, and a one year baby photography session. They aren’t exactly on the nose as far as dates. I guess maybe it should be called newborn, sitting, walking sessions! Those are the criteria I look for when booking the first year sessions. It is those milestones, and seeing home much they have changed in the intervals, that are so amazing. And this little fellow certainly did not disappoint. I mean he has always been cute but I was laughing out loud while editing these images. And while I was photographing him too. Just ask mom and dad. I was giggling pretty hard that day. And even though our session was very quick, he and his beautiful sister gave me PLENTY to work with. Well, she is just a natural at this. And growing into a lovely little lady with very definite ideas of what she thinks will make a good portrait too:) Gotta love a girl with sweet spunk!

So mom and dad, I hope you enjoy this preview! It was lots of fun, as always. You know the routine and how much I LOVE blog love so I hope you’ll tell your friends and family to check out your latest photography session with Ashley Ward Photography. And thank you so much!!!

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Kara Layfield: Gorgeous family shots! I love this location.

Terry: These are beautiful! Looks like a fun family session!

Julie Wagoner: These are so sweet and fun! I love all the expressions from the birthday boy. And I love big sisters dresses too. What a great session Ashley!

Leah Jent: What a brilliant session. This family is so beautiful! I love the little guy's faces. Soooo cute!

Laura: What a beautiful family and the location looks fabulous! Love that blue dress in the first few shots!! Beautiful work Ashley!

Dawn: What a beautiful family!!! LOVE the location and you got so much variety! They will love these and hopefully fill their home with them. Fab job, as usual.

Gail: Ah, the beauty of summer - refreshing greens are the perfect setting for this GORGEOUS family! Awesome work!

desi: oh wow! you did such an awesome job with these. i bet the famiy will be thrilled

Georganne: They are such a beautiful family! I am so proud of them!!

Mary Alice Ruben: What wonderful photos of a good looking family!!

Shelby: What a perfect location for this beautiful family. I know mom and dad will be pleased with so many awesome photos!

Jackie Jean: sweet family! love all the expressions of the little ones!

Dezarae: Such an adorable little family! Great location and beautiful images!

Whitley Pollet: Their smiles are contagious!!! These pictures make me so happy to look at. :) Beautiful work Ashley!!!

Azure: What a gorgeous family, and absolutely beautiful location! I love these. Great work, Ashley!

Carrie: Totally ADORABLE!

Liz: Loooove this session Ashley! Such a fun family. Beautiful work!

Brandi-lee: The colours are so rich and vibrant!! These shots would have to portray one of the happiest families and you've captured all that love and happiness perfectly, great work!

amy lenhart: ashley this is a beautiful session! you got some amazing images for this family! love the variety and the location is beautiful too!!

natalie: what a fun fun shoot! these kiddos are so cute! GREAT JOB!

Sylvia Borgo: Oh, their smiles! Their smiles are just darling! What a beautiful family! Gosh, I'm such a fan of your work!

Julie Delgado: What a beautiful family. Beautiful images, love the colors!!

Jenna: I have such a beautiful family...inside and out! :)

I have had this topic in mind to blog about for months. A lot of months. It’s been playing in the back of my mind and occasionally I was serious enough to bring up my editor and try to start writing about this. Each time I have backed out and moved on to other things. It’s a big topic and I didn’t know how to approach it without getting too personal or without risking looking like someone who is too self-important. Even now I am struggling with this intro, but I really want to put this out there for people to consider. So I have decided that I can’t separate how personal this is for me and I can’t take my own feelings and drama out of it……it’s who I am……and what is important to me. I have also decided to break this up into more than one blog entry.

Earlier this month, the home of country music star Trace Adkins’ home caught fire. Thankfully, all the family at home escaped but the house was a total loss. This is a quote from a CNN article regarding Trace’s wife Rhonda’s one regret: With her daughters, their nanny and the family dog safe, Adkins said it was easy for her to be calm and thankful despite the loss of her home. She did have one regret, though.
“I have not backed up all my photographs, and I’m just sitting here sick because those are the things that matter the most,” she said. “It’s your memories, our wedding pictures, I don’t have, because the negatives are in the house.
“Please, everybody, practice fire safety, and back up all your pictures,” she said.

In 2007, director Francis Ford Copolla was the victim of a computer and external hard drive theft in Buenos Aires. According to the BBC, he pleaded through a local reporter for the return of the hard drive. “If I could get the backup back, it would save me years [of] all the photographs of my family, all my writing.”

Some time ago, I asked this question on my personal facebook page: Quick! Your house is on fire! All your loved ones and your pets have made it to safety and you have 30 seconds to grab what is most important to you and save it from the flames and/or water. What’s it gonna be?

I asked this question to stress the value of portrait photography. I suspected that most people would give the same answer as me when confronted with this scenario. And I was right. Of the people that responded to this question, the majority agreed that their photographs were absolutely the most important item in their home. Some said they had an emergency plan already in place and all their photos and baby books were in one location and that everyone was aware it was the important things to grab if there was time. Some talked about grabbing their external hard drives or laptops that housed their images. I even had a client say the images I took of their child as a newborn is what they would grab. I wasn’t expecting an answer so specific but I admit that knowing how important those photos are to that mommy, that they are the one “thing” from her home she would want to save from the flames, as their professional photographer that felt pretty amazing.

This week I want to share my views on the value of portrait photography and next week we will cover data backups and storage. So, why do so many people agree about the importance of their photographs? Why would so many reach out to save them in the event of a disaster? By asking that question on my facebook page, I wanted to confirm my suspicions that many people agree that the “things” that fill your home are all replaceable…..all but your photos. Your photos are the physical form of your memories. When you look back on your photos, for a split second it takes you back in time and renews the memory. One of my favorite quotes on photography was made by Aaron Siskand and says “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” Our history is in our photographs…..what we want to remember about our lives and what we want others to know about us after we are gone. They are irreplaceable because you cannot go back in time and record that moment again. Once taken, that moment is gone forever. And as all parents know all too well, time is fleeting and children grow up so quickly.

Hopefully there are two kinds of photographs that make up your photographic history……..your professional portraits and your snapshots. Both are important to the makeup of your portrait library. Even as a professional photographer, believe me, I have plenty of snapshots of my everyday life too and I treasure each and every one of them. Some may disagree with my views on choosing a professional photographer and how often you should have professional photos made, but this is my blog, so I am sharing my views here. I believe that because your photographs are so important, you should save for your professional portraits and make it a worthwhile investment. Hire a professional photographer as often as you are financially comfortable doing so, but do not base your choice on price alone. Research professional photographers well and check out their portfolio and/or blog well, looking for a consistency to their images and a style that speaks to you in a way that you can see your family’s story being told. It’s a good idea to check for testimonials or to talk to your friends about experiences they have had with photographers. If the photographer that you really love is more expensive than you are comfortable visiting every year, then choose to have your portraits taken every other year. And then please don’t forget to fill in the time between your professional sessions with plenty of snapshot documentation of your family’s life. Those images taken using your camera and your eye, of your family’s everyday life, will be more and more precious as the years go by, much as your professional portraits.

I have to say I have never regretted a single dime I have paid for my professional portraits. Or more precisely, I have always felt my family’s professional portraits were a worthwhile investment. When my daughter was younger and I was not as informed about photography, I chose a couple of my photographers based on how cheaply I could get my images and that was a mistake. I do wish I had spent more time seeking out a better photographer and spent a little more money in the process. I am not saying that you have to go into debt to have good professional photographs. I am saying I have spent a lot more and accumulated some debt in the past for things that are nowhere near as dear to me as my professional photographs. If my family and I had to start all over today and could only take one thing from our life today, there would be no question about what that would be.

So, hopefully by asking my initial question and sharing this information with you, I have you thinking about how important your photographic history is and how you want to invest in it. Of course, once you have spent this time and money and energy creating these wonderful living memories, you need to protect them from all forms of natural and technological disasters. Next week I’ll pick back up on this topic and talk about how to ensure your photo memories are safe in case of a disaster. I will be sharing with you my experiences as a former desktop computer/network technician, hard drive failures and malware, and how to protect yourself. If your photos are as important to you as mine are to me, and you want more information on how to protect them, be sure to visit me next week:)

That was a lot of reading and it doesn’t feel right not to post an image. So, here is one of my lovely daughter (who is growing up way to fast!) with her papa on Father’s Day this year.
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Tori Piercy: OMGosh, so so true! About a year and a half ago our RV caught on fire sitting right beside our house at 2 am. First thing I grab were the kids. The second thing? My hardrive. Absolutely priceless! Great post Ashley!

Nicole Z: Great read Ashley. Thanks for posting it! I couldn't agree with you more! Mind if I link this on my FB page??

Dee: Well put, Ashley, so very well put. I really enjoyed reading this post and it also serves as my latest reminder to go back up my images from this month!

Laura: Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a great article that is so very true. I love the quote by Siskand. So many details that we want to remember and in the moment we truly believe we will never forget them but, alas, as time goes on unfortunately we do forget. How important it is to have beautiful images made of your family. They are a treasure for sure.

Cherise: Ashley, the best blog entry I've read in a LONG time. Good food for thought!

Ashley: Thank you so much, ladies. I really hope people find it helpful and a good reminder about taking care of the really precious "things". Can't wait to share more next week now:) Cherise, thank you!

Brandi-lee: well said Ashley and so very very true!!! Those precious photos arent just inmportant for this generation, but every generation to come. I always consider myself blessed to be able to see my Mother and even my Grandmother as a little girl in photos!

sharon: Great read Ashley! Our photos are so important because you can never get the moment back again. Thanks for taking the time to write it :)

aseel: Well put, Ashley! And soooo true.

Kelly Mack: Your an inspiration Ashley!

Justyna: First off, what a beautiful young woman! Gorgeous hair. Second, this topic is so important and I'm so glad you brought it up. Sadly, no one realizes the importance of this until it's too late. You are doing a great service to everyone reading!

Liz: Great post Ashley! I needed this reminder! Oh, and I love the image of your daughter and her papa! Lovely!

Sylvia Borgo: Insightful information and very well-written. This is a fantastic article!

Cari Berry: Really great points! I know that there is no possession I treasure more than my photographs, and I also know that there is no investment more lasting or important that professional portraits - not the flat screen, the iphone, even the car. Thanks for bringing the reality of that home for everyone who reads your blog!!

Heather: Ashley - FANTASTIC post! I linked it on my website about choosing a professional photographer - http://www.takeoffyourmommygoggles.com/2011/06/30/the-value-of-portrait-photography/. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this so eloquently :). Your work is beautiful and you obviously have the dedication and *caring* for your clients that I associate with the best photographers :). Sincerely, Heather :)

Whitley Pollet: What a great post that everyone needs to read!! I'll be sharing this one. :)

amy: This is just a perfect post. great article.

natalie: what a great post!!!! thank you!

Rafael: This is so true, Ashley. Lovely post. I was looking for something good and valuable to read about portrait photography, and I found it. Thanks for the shared thoughts (even though I'm reading it a bit too late! hehe) Rafael

Weighing in at 5lbs 2 oz on the day of our session, I think this sweet pea was the smallest subject of all my newborn baby photography sessions. These new parents were referred by a newborn client I photographed last year and it was a full day of traveling and shooting, as they live quite some way from the Columbia area. It was an awesome way to start off a busy week!

This precious little girl also broke my long streak of baby boy sessions! And although I love photographing little boys too, it was a much welcomed pleasure to be photographing a sweet princess again. And she is beautiful! Her parents were sweet and I love one image of them in particular when I asked them to kiss and daddy gently reached out and put his hand on mommy’s and the baby. You could tell it was one of those sweet instinctual actions…..the ones we barely notice but that say so much. Sigh…….I love working with newborns and newparents:)

Mom and Dad, I hope you enjoy your preview. Tell your friends and family members to check out the images and leave a little love on your blog post. If you get 35 comments from unique visitors (with their email address), you can choose your favorite image for a 5×7 print on me! If you get 50 comments, it’s an 8×10!! Enjoy:)

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Cherise: What a precious baby girl. Great work as usual ;)

Brooke: and I could die...you are amazing! thank you for capturing our Ellie in such a beautiful way!

Katy: Beautiful! I love the one with the "bunny hat" on!

Kim @ The Excellent Adventures: OH MY GOODNESS!!! So sweet!! Brooke and Josh, you did an amazing job on creating such a precious subject!! And Ashley, WOW! Your pictures are incredible... you are so talented!

Lauren Black: You did WONDERFUL! she is precious!

Sandra Vickery: Such a perfect little angel. Wonderful pictures to treasure.

Kelli: Love, love, love these pictures of this sweet family! That peanut is such a blessing!!

Kelly Turner: Brooke, what a beautiful family you have been blessed with! And these are incredible pictures...I wish I had this photographer when my boys were newborns! Enjoy every moment...she will grow up WAY TOO FAST! Each stage is so much fun!!

Josh: Thank you for capturing our Ellie! You did a great job and we are so happy with the way everything has turned out! We can't wait to see the others!

Sandra: Beautiful pictures of a little angel.

Jessica: How absolutely amazing! These are wonderful!!

Bill: Ellie is my grandaughter and she is perfect. Ellie, Brooke & Josh make my life so rich and fulfilling. The photography is stunning and creative.

julie: Love the pictures. She is so sweet, and very photogenic! Congratulations again!!

marie lewis: What beautiful pictures of a beautiful family! Stunning pictures that capture love!

Mary Alice: These pictures are wonderful of Miss Ellie. I will have to say my favorite so far is the one with her hands on her face! I cannot wait to see the rest of them! She is such a perfect angel!

Steven Lathem: Beautiful pics...she's so adorable!!

Anne: ADORABLE!!! Great pictures Brooke!

Cassie: Absolutely beautiful pictures!! I wish that we did these with Lauren when she was first born.

Tricia Thain: What absolutely amazing photos of our precious little bitty Ellie BooBoo!

Jodee Holliman: Brooke, these turned out great. I know you are beyond excited!

Brandi-lee: so much variety and each one of them so beautiful!!

Kelly Mack: These are so cute! Love love love the hat pics! TDF. Gorgeous.

avis kelley: Beautiful family I canot wait to babysit. avis kelley

Mel: She's a quality sleeper! I love the ones where she is on her side with the slightest grin... and the bunny ears, of course!

Taylor Wilks: Brooke.. these pictures are amazing! Ellie is so beautiful, I can't wait to meet her one day! (maybe once I am up at school in August) LOVE you!

Jessica: WOW! I can't stop looking at the photos. You captured how precious Ellie is... love the photo where she is wearing the flower headband. Way to go Ashley!

Kara Layfield: Beautiful session! I love the variety and her nursery is gorgeous! LOVE your work so much!!!

amber: These are gorgeous!!! love that nursery!

sara: beautiful pictures!!!

Jon: Very cute pictures!

Darryl: Josh and Brooke, I could not be any happier for you two. Miss Ellie is beautiful. The picture I like the best, is the one with Ellie at the end of the bed with the two of you in the background. Just want you to know that I have adopted her as my niece. Congrats again to the both of you.

Tori Piercy: Awwww what a sweet baby! I adore their nursery too! Gorgeous session Ashley!

judy mcdonagh: These photos are beautiful!! Ellie is so precious and truly a gift from God.

Kelly: What a beautiful little peanut and another gorgeous session by Ashley! Love it!

Terry Smith: Those pictures are beyond beautiful!! They captured the whole family at their very best!! Ellie is just beautiful!!

PaPa DonDon: Great pics. I happened to drop in during the session. Ashley has the patience of Job and that touch to turn out great shots. Of course, she had a great Peanut to work with.

Liz: Fantastic session! I love how you showcase baby's nursery and home. These are classic shots the family will treasure!

Grammy Kim: The photos are so creative and absolutely wonderful. Ashley is such a gifted photographer and makes the shots look effortless! She has truly captured the essence of our little Ellie as well as the delight of her mommy and daddy!

Danielle Frank: These are so sweet! I love them all.

Mary Ellen Barnwell: What a gorgeous family! And what a talented photographer!

Cheryl Covington: These pictures are beautiful. Congratulations to Brooke and Josh on your sweet baby girl!

Jackie: These pictures are beautiful and Ellie is precious!

Sara: What a beautiful baby!! The pictures are wonderful!!

Sylvia Borgo: It is always a TREAT to visit your blog, Ashley. This little sweetie is about as adorable as they come! So lovely.

Susan Browder: Congratulations! The baby is beautiful, and so are the pictures!

Gail: Oh Ashley - your lifestyle work is incredible! And so is that family - so cute and their home is simply adorable! I LOVE how your images come together to tell a beautiful story - lovely work!

Margaret Faulkner: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your pictures of our Ellie!! Thanks so much, Ashley!

Lisa Holloway {Las Vegas Photographer}: BEAUTIFUL family...wow, and that sweet little girl is just darling! Oh, and I love her nursery...like really LOVE. You do such amazing work Ashley!

Jeanette Brezeale: Amazing pictures! I just love how you captured the sweetness of a new baby girl!

'G': WOW!!! Simply gorgeous. You captured the essence of proud parents and their beautiful treasure.

Stephanie: She is PRECIOUS! Beautiful photographs.

Brandi Fulmer: Miss Ellie is a beautiful baby. She is pageant material......a future beauty queen. Brandi

Julie Wagoner: Once again, a fabulous newborn session. I love how personal to each client these session are for you. Wonderful job, Ashley!

Justyna: BEAUTIFUL! Lovely images as always. Super cute babe !

Leah Jent: Beautiful work, Ashley. Wow, that house is amazing!! I love how you capture your client's lives! Gorgeous!

Anelle: Ashley! I went back and forth, but I cannot choose a favourite! These are all so beautiful!

Tiffany Bender: You are a master!!!! Your lifestyle is straight out of a magazine! I am gonna say one day really soon- I knew her when.........

Carrie: Sigh. More awesome lifestyle images and beautiful posed newborn shots to go with them! Love your work!

amy lenhart: wow ashley amazing work!! love this session!

Azure: Love these, Ashley. Just beautiful!

natalie: oh WOW!!!! she is beautiful!!! and her room is to die for! just lovely!

This is just a very short post. I am hard at word editing a session of a precious baby girl that broke my long stream of baby boy newborn photography sessions! She is my tiniest baby yet at not quite 5 lbs. I cannot wait to share the images here very soon! But today I just wanted to share that a session of mine from a year ago was featured at The Lens Loves. Here’s a little 411 on them taken from their site: “The Lens Loves was created after realizing that while there are tons of wedding inspiration websites, there really aren’t any portrait inspiration websites. Places where you can go and see beautiful sessions by awesome photographers and be inspired by the stories, outfits, locations, and people. Our hope is that you will be able to find that on this site.” These are a couple of images from that session that I have featured in my website galleries.

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So, feel free to show me some love! Here or there or both!! LOL!

Have a great day and I’ll be posting again soon so ya’ll come back now:)

Danielle Frank: Congratulations on being featured!!! I love the family shot you've captured - big sister's face is priceless - so cute!

Tori Piercy: Congratulations!! Not surprised at all, you rock!

Leah Jent: I LOVE THESE! That first one is perfection! That second one is heavenly! That third one is bursting at the seams with love. Gorgeous, Ashley!