Interview: Photographer Ashley Smith
What’s the story of how you got into photography and end up pursuing your passion?
I’ve always been a bit more of the artsy type of girl. I took a photography class way back in high school that set the stage for the basics and bought my first Big Girl Camera only a few years ago to take with me when I traveled. I loved trying to capture moments not only as I saw them but how I felt them as well. I was preparing to start a program to get my degree in a healthcare field when my photography really started to blossom. I started slowly sharing my work and it just sort of took off from there! I started meeting people from all over my state and other creatives from across the country who really helped to shape me and become better. I fell in love with the instant connection I get to make with people, and getting to know the state where I live like I never had before. Now I get to travel internationally to help capture moments for people who usually end up as friends and I couldn’t be luckier.
What has influenced your style and work the most?
This one is easy. Absolutely the people that I work with; clients and fellow photographers alike. One of my favorite things about traveling is learning to see things through a different point of view and to put a new lens on my life. (Ha! Photography puns.) This is the same with the people I interact with every photographer I get to work with helps me to learn something new, to try something a little out of my norm. And every client I work with stretches me to capture what is unique to their personality or relationship. Since my style tends to lean towards the candid and emotive, each person I shoot with shapes my work as they teach me about who they are and I begin to figure out what makes them unique.
What do you wish people would understand better about you and your work?
I guess it would be that numbers and followers and all that don’t mean a thing to me. I didn’t start doing this for anyone else, it was born simply out of my own love to create. People tend to get caught up in the fame and numbers game of it all, and when I start caring about that then I lose the focus of why I started taking photos in the first place. I’m a firm believer in community over competition, and it’s helped me to keep the love for the art alive.
What is the best thing you’ve experienced by being a photographer?
I cannot say this enough: I have met the COOLEST people through this job that I would never have met otherwise. I have made some of my very best friends just through connecting on social media and then meeting up to collaborate in real life. I also never realized just how little of my own state I had explored before getting into photography, and I’ve loved learning to become more of a tourist in my own state. I’ve pushed my own boundaries in so many ways since starting photography and I love it.
What is your dream location and why?
Oh heavens. I have so many. I’m slightly obsessed with National Parks so really any of them are always on my bucket list. I love anywhere with dramatic scenery, which is why I’m so spoiled to live in the mountains of Utah. I would love to shoot in Iceland or Ireland one day.
What are some key elements in your work?
I feel like my work is very earthy and candid feeling. I love the moody earth tones, which I think comes from my strong love of travel and the mountains in which I currently live. It also helps to develop that “journalistic” sense that I try to convey in my photos since I love to simply let the relationships and events unfold as they are instead of constantly trying to control a situation.
What are some of your all-time favorite hobbies other than photography?
Not many people in my photography circles know this about me, but I am actually a huge music nerd. I was trained in classical piano all the way through high school, and then bought myself a guitar and sing with friends on the regular. I love to travel (if you haven’t gotten that from this interview already) and it’s been a goal of mine to have a new stamp in my passport every year. I also am secretly a speed reader and I go through books like you wouldn’t believe. Those are probably my main hobbies unless you count quoting The Office on a daily basis…in which case definitely add that to the list.
What was your last shoot like?
My last shoot was an engagement shoot with this adorable young couple whose personalities instantly clicked with mine. We went up to one of my favorite locations in the mountains and just had a ball. They told me they chose me for my style and candid posing, and they made it so easy for me to direct them. I felt like I hardly had to do anything except let them run around and flirt and it made for some amazing shots. I genuinely try to become friends with all of my clients and develop a personal relationship with them, and those two were instant connections!
Is there anything we didn’t ask you about that you’d like to share?
I think you guys about covered it! I guess I just want to thank all of those that have helped push me in this direction and helped me to grow. I cannot believe the amount of love and encouragement I have received from those around me, and there’s no way I’d be here without it. I’m gonna end this before it gets too sappy in here, but for reals…thanks.