Thursday, February 12, 2015

Meet This Week's Judge: Ashlee of Malily Photography!

Ashlee of Malily Photography has chosen a fun theme for us this week: delightfully chaotic. Take a look at some of her delightful photos, and read about her!

1. Tell us about yourself...

My name is Ashlee, I'm a mom of twin daughters and a wife to my high school sweetheart.  I crave the sun, I love the ocean, I live for road trips, I collect vintage photos of strangers, and I loose every lens cap that I touch.

2. What ignited your passion for photography, and what fuels it now?  

I've had an interest in photography for as long as I can remember.  I could see images in my head and I'd try to capture them but was usually underwhelmed by the results.  Something was always missing for me.  Then my daughters were born.  They were two months premature and spent a month in the NICU.  I spent those long days sitting by their side and taking hundreds of pictures with an awful point and shoot camera (I have no idea why I never had my DSLR with me).  At night, after we'd leave the girls I'd pour over those photos as a way to hold onto them since they were so far away from us.  Even though the quality of those photos was poor, they were emotionally powerful for me...and that was it.  It was emotion.  Emotion was the missing thing in all my early photography and the spark for my photography journey. So as my girls grew, I grew too as a photographer, gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to capture images with the emotion in them that I craved.  I enjoy photographing a variety of things now, but I know for the rest of my life my daughters will always be my inspiration and my muses.

3. What's in your camera bag right now, what do use the most? the least? 

My bag is never packed until I'm ready to run out of the door. I'm not that organized!  The only thing that stays in my camera bag 24/7 is lip balm and a snack bar for me and tissues, Pez, and quarters to keep the kids happy (and clean).  Oh yes, I bribe and I'm so fortunate right now that my models work cheap!  I shoot with a Canon 6d, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 40mm 2.8, a Lensbaby Edge80, and a Lensbaby Spark.  I'm surprised how much I love and use my 40mm pancake right now.  I bought it as a travel/hiking lens because it was lightweight and small, but I really love it for daily shooting as well. My Edge80 spends a lot of time on my camera these days too.  For portrait work of small children, I find that I mostly use my 50mm because it allows me to stick close to them and keep them engaged.  Although I do love my 85mm, I don't use that as much as the rest of my lenses at this point.

4. What's your dream project or shoot?

My go for broke dream project would be to travel the world with my family for the rest of my life photographing new people and places and capturing my family's travels to said places.  My much more humble dream shoot would be to have an aquarium all to myself.  The pockets of light, the fish, the movement, the reflections, the wonder...its all so magical.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face as a photographer?

Time.  There is never enough time.  I'm self employed both with my part time photography business and another full time business (unrelated to photography).  I always struggle with striking a balance between family time, business tasks, professional client shoots, personal photography projects, ongoing education, and so on.  My dishes are never totally finished, my laundry is never completely put away, and my house is never fully tidy, but we manage to appear mostly sane when company stops long as they call first....please call first. 

6. If you had $500 to spend on photography...

How should you spend it?  Another hard drive and more RAM...I'm always maxing both out.
How do you wish you could spend it?  A weekend road trip to somewhere new to explore.
How would you really spend it?  I would spend it on a photography workshop.  The winter is a wonderful time to learn something new and I a little creative push is always good for me when the days are short and cold.

7. Is there any one thing you wish someone had told you at the very beginning of your photography journey?

This was a hard one to answer because I couldn't come up with anything that I thought really would have made a difference in my photography journey. So no, I don't think so.  Everything I have have done and not have done, every mistake I have made has brought me to where I am now.  Sure, I've made countless mistakes, spent way too much time and money going in the wrong direction, compared myself to other artists, had my confidence torn down, tried to squeeze myself into a mold that was not me, and had many moments of self doubt...but I learned from all of that.  I believe you have to make mistakes to grow, you have to slip a little (or a lot) to move forward.  It can be a painful process to be an artist.  I'm still making mistakes and I hope I always do because that means that I'm also learning and growing.

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