Archive for June, 2013

Is The Great Gatsby still required high school reading? I remember when I was first introduced the F. Scott Fitzgerald book and how much I loved and was absolutely taken in by not only the characters and the story, but by the descriptions and imagining all the beauty and extravagance and decadence of the time. And then I saw the Robert Redford / Mia Farrow film and fell even deeper in love. I adore the style of this time period, from fashion and jewelry to decor and architecture. I love just about anything with an art deco, or even an art nouveau, influence.

So of course when the new Baz Luhrmann film came out I was beside myself to go and see it. The visuals in his movies are always so amazing. I remember being absolutely spellbound by Moulin Rouge. When the new Great Gatsby opened, I decided to take my daughter and ask mother/daughter friends to join us for the movie. My daughter was thrilled to go see the movie and that probably had more to do with Leonardo DiCaprio than anything else! But she was so excited she decided she wanted to dress up for the film. So we texted her friend and the two of them wore black dresses and character shoes and donned the flapper look as best they could on short notice:) It was pretty sweet.

The film was just what I expected…..a visual feast! Just gorgeous! One of the first scenes to strike me was near the beginning of the film when Nick first sees Daisy in her home. She was lost in laughter as huge panels of white sheers, being blown by the breeze, filled the room and rose high in the air and then and kissed her as they fell back down again. It was such a beautiful scene and so romantic. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind after seeing the film and set about thinking of ways I could make some portraits inspired by this imagery.

So a trip to a secondhand store and I found this treasure of a dress. I knew with some embellishments it could be perfect. Another discussion with Amy Schaming, my fabulous makeup artist and hairdresser, was just what I needed to take the costuming to a new level. Amy made the glorious headdress and had the perfect embellishments for the dress. My mother gave me the shoes just a few days before the shoot!

Amy’s amazing work on hair and makeup was absolutely perfect. We placed our beautiful “Daisy”, Nikki Thilges, on my luxurious purple tufted sofa and borrowed a couple of fans to blow the sheer panels I made to dress up my studio (one fan was from a client just down the street who was even kind enough to drop it by the studio on the day of the shoot!). We experimented with the lights and the placement of the furniture and posing, put the fans on high speed (and Amy sat behind the sofa giving the sheers a little extra throw every once in a while), and we shot some dreamy Gatsby images! I hope you enjoy them:)





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Wow! Am I excited to be sharing these images with you today! I absolutely love the two women we took inspiration from for this shoot….Marilyn Monroe and Madonna. The idea started while I was browsing for wardrobe pieces for my new photography studio located in Five Points, Bijou. I dropped by Revente’s Second Chances, an apparel shop on Millwood Drive benefitting The Women’s Shelter, and found this amazing dress. I immediately thought of Madonna’s Material Girl music video. That video was inspired by a musical number in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Marilyn Monroe. I almost squealed out loud when I came across the dress. I was foolish enough to try to put it on in the dressing room…hahaha. SOOOOO small. No matter. It was perfect, perfectly priced, and destined to be mine. I bought it and thought I could find the perfect petite blonde to put in the dress later! I also picked up some matching long gloves at Hip*Wa*Zee, a fabulous source for vintage and costume apparel.

At that point I had a passionate discussion with Amy Schaming, my hair and makeup goddess who works with me on my Beautiful Sessions, telling her of the dress and my desire to shoot a beautiful blonde as this character(s) and Amy was just as excited as me. She knew someone who would most likely fit the dress, was blonde, beautiful, and had experience working with photographers. After seeing a few photos of Nikki Thilges I thought she would be perfect. Amy and I also decided to bring in Tyson Keanum, who is so talented and did an AMAZING job on the makeup for this shoot! I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. Everyone did an fantastic job!

I used two different lighting setups for two different dramatic looks and processed the images in a way that I felt played on the vintage theme of the shoot. We played Madonna music and just let ourselves have a great time with it! And I think one of these needs to be a display piece at the studio! Any suggestions on which one to use?!

If you like this type of post, come visit my blog again next week! We dressed Nikki up and styled and shot her as another character this same day and I’ll post images from that session then. And if you would like your own fantasy beauty shoot, contact me today!

Have a great weekend everyone!










Joyce: Boy, that dress looks made for her! Bet she wanted to take it with her! I vote for the one with her hands up by her shoulders....

Ashley: Yes, I could not believe how fabulous she looked in this dress! I think the one you chose, Joyce, is Amy's favorite too. I love it but am also partial to the one just above it:)

Have you heard about the Beautiful Sessions at Bijou, the new studio of Ashley Ward Photography in downtown Columbia in Five Points? More than a photography session, it is an experience you will always remember….a day where you are the starlett, the supermodel, the diva, the goddess. The experience includes a personal consultation and planning appointment, a full makeup and hairstyling, a photography session including 3-4 wardrobe changes, and a personal ordering appointment when all of the images are ready for viewing. Clients are pampered and fussed over and carefully directed during their session for the most beautiful results. It is a fantastic experience that results in portraits you and those who love you will cherish forever.

Meet Amanda, our latest Beautiful Session client. Amanda’s husband gave her a gift certificate for her session as a gift. It came at a wonderful time for her. Amanda began training and sculpting her body last year with Crossfit. After many months she can really see the difference that this fitness routine has made in all areas of her life and she couldn’t be happier. She feels healthier and stronger than ever and THAT is a cause of a celebration! She is beautiful, inside and out, and I am so happy to have worked with her and to create these portraits for her!

Check out a few of Amanda’s images here or check out her video at the end of this post.

Book your Beautiful Session experience today. Now booking for August.



















Joyce: Wow! Those take "after" pictures to a whole new level! Love, love, love! Congrats Amanda you look amazing.

Kara Layfield: Gorgeous!! I adore your work!

Nina: Oh Gigi, those are gorgeous! Love, love, love. Thank you, Ashley Ward! Beautiful.

I love to witness the joy new parents feel. I worked with this couple to produce beautiful maternity images to capture mom’s pregnancy and now again, to photograph their newborn son! I don’t believe I have ever seen such amazing skin on a newborn before! His skin was almost flawless. He slept like a champ during his session, posed well, and gave us a few smiles too! I am especially partial to his basket images.
Thank you mom and dad, for the pleasure of working with your blooming family!








Anya Coleman: Love the variety you captured!Love it!

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