Ashley is a friend of grief and an ambassador for love. After losing her daughter to a terminal condition, she recognized just how much love and support can lighten the darkest of circumstances. She launched Love Not Lost as a way to come alongside of people facing a terminal diagnosis to celebrate life, preserve memories, and support people in grief.
If you could tell your younger self something you’ve learned along the way, what would you say?
I would try to help my younger self understand that comparison truly is the thief of all joy. Each of us are created so uniquely with our appearance, skills, abilities, and thought processes - not to mention our life circumstances that shape so much of how we interact with people. It's ridiculous to compare ourselves to anyone else, which not only robs us of our joy, but also prevents us from becoming our best self.
What is the most unique or special place you’ve worked/done a shoot?
Coming up with the most unique place I've done a shoot it hard because I've photographed on a helipad, at a natural cemetery, on top of white and blue domes in Santorini, on rides in Disney and LegoLand, and so many more. When I hear special and unique, my mind immediately goes to the families I've served and the vulnerable moments I've been invited to be a part of with camera in hand. I am reminded of a little boy's face lighting up with his love for trains as we boarded a train at the Southeastern Railway Museum to ride around the tracks. My heart goes to the NICU where I've captured several parents saying goodbye to their babies. I think of a family holding hands in a community garden in Atlanta standing in front of huge letters that spelled "HOPE" as the dad of the family was facing stage 4 melanoma and they weren't giving up. All of those places become special because of the people and the circumstances I found myself surrounded by in those moments.
What inspired you to become an image maker?
I grew up fascinated with medium-format cameras and pops of flashes in the studio every time I would visit my uncle in NYC. He photographed still-life for magazines like Allure, Vogue, etc. and let me watch him while he worked as a kid. My parents gave me a 35mm film camera for my high school graduation present (because digital didn't exist yet), however, it wasn't until a few years later that I fell in love with telling stories through images. I went to Ukraine for an art project that lasted two weeks, and I ended up staying with a local team for two months. I took 22 rolls of film and used up every last frame. I found such a joy in capturing the world around me and being able to share it with everyone when I returned home. Stories of babooshkas walking their cows through the soccer fields or sitting with their ice cream cart on street corners were more powerful with the images to support them. I was hooked.