Recently, I felt like I had lost my “mojo”. The creative spark that makes my images mine. When I first picked up a camera, I didn’t set fourth to make a career of it, I just wanted to capture the beauty of seemingly mundane details. Everything I saw, I saw as a photograph. That coffee cup sitting over there? Ohhh, that would be a great photo. (This bugged Marshall to no end). I witnessed light streaming through a jug of sweet tea. I appreciated how my Mommalou set her kitchen table every Sunday for supper (that’s what we call lunch here in the South, ya’ll.) and I photographed it. I had this way of seeing past the end product of a “perfect image” and just shot what I saw. Then one day, in the mix of the chaos, hectic career, and self-doubt, I lost it. So much, in fact, that I put my camera down. For a while. In one of our infamous 4 hour phone calls with my lifelong (pretty much) & amazingly talented BFF Rebecca Armstrong, she pointed out that “This time last year I was thinking I wanted to do less feature writing and do more wedding photography, and you said you didn’t want to be a wedding photographer! Now, we are the total opposite! Man, how our ideals have changed!” (She is an incredibly talented writer AND photographer). Now, I’m back at it, and loving everything about photography, especially weddings. Just goes to show how you can think you have it all figured out, but God usually has other plans and your true creative will seep through. Today, instead of getting lost in other photographer’s images and pouring through hours of blogged sessions, I am stepping back to reclaim what is mine. My eye. What makes me tick and my shutter click. It’s been easy for me to get wrapped up in other people’s styles and what “everyone is doing” that I have teetered with loosing my own perspective. Lately, instead of pinning (oh, you don’t pin? Well, be prepared to become obsessed!) other photographer’s sessions, I have been ripping pages from magazines, taking iphone snapshots of things that tug at my heart strings, and compiling inspiration and images that speak to me. What I have found out about my style doesn’t surprise me, since I always knew what it was, but it does get me back in the creative mindset. I can stop going for looks and edits that I was finding myself wrapped up in because that’s not how I see life, and it shows. I love love love bright, perfectly lit photographs but natural with crazy light flare just does it for me. I’ve racked my brain trying to get creamy, glistening skin tones but my heart races over shadows and blur. Ripping my way through editorials and catalogs, I noticed some of backlogged issues hit the trash can skimpier than others: Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters catalogs. While Real Simple and Martha Stewart Weddings are beautifully photographed, crisp and clean, my style just isn’t that flawless. I see the beauty in the everyday, not the perfectly poised. The lifestyle type shots from Anthropologie mixed with crazy foliage blur and light haze makes me melt. Melt I tell ya. Just when I think I couldn’t love one of their images more, I flip to the next and fall head over heels again. This is me. This is my style (mixed with some of that pretty, more commercial looks as well, of course). I’ve started to de-clutter the mess taking up space in my brain and am on the path to seeing clearly again: like Ashley Goodwin. I love and respect all types of photography, don’t get me wrong, and I die over images that aren’t “my” style, but that’s just the thing, I need to get back to me. Although I admire photographs from certain photographers and advertisements, I am trying to see less of the “entire image” and more so what it is about the image that moves me. Never wanting to literally recreate that composition (which, trust me, I have tried), but challenging myself to take what I liked from that photo and translating it into my own. Spontaneous, dreamy shots that reflect real life. Through a little window reflection in there, too. Hopefully, this gets be back to my creative flair, this time with a bang! My favorite sources of “Ashley Style” inspiration, blogs, photographers or otherwise:
-Urban Outfitters (but a little less rugged, and a little less nakie.)
-Micheal Kors Ads (The colors! The light haze! The BAGS!)
-J.Crew (fresh, fun, lifestyle)
-Tiffany Ads (What girl doesn’t love Tiffany??)
-Jerry Yoon (Oh man. His perspectives kill me. Gorg.)
-Bonnie Tsang (the perfect mix of interesting meets pretty)
-Max Wagner (the light. The airy colors. The perspectives. The motion. I DIE!)
-Jose Villa (Duh. His work with film is incredible. It’s a stunning mix of light, color, creative composition, storytelling, and commercial style images).
What inspires you?