Life Unexpected- How to find Self Identity and Listen to Your Gut

I love it when life brings you an unexpected gift. One of mine came in the form of a smart, energetic, High School guidance counselor. I met Ashley at school where we both worked. For quite some time our relationship consisted of game planning to better assist our students but as the year came to an end I gained a friend.

My greatest take away is to always be proactive in any situation you are in. Below are a few books that helped Ashley reclaim her happiness, know her greatness, and move forward with a positive outlook. These are affiliate links, so you don’t pay a penny more, but I might get a little commission if you choose to purchase. Simply click the picture!

  “Do you feel like you are too nice? Sherry Argov’s Why Men Love Bitches delivers a unique perspective as to why men are attracted to a strong woman who stands up for herself. With saucy detail on every page, this no-nonsense guide reveals why a strong woman is much more desirable than a “yes woman” who routinely sacrifices herself. The author provides compelling answers to the tough questions women often ask.”
With liberal use of his own adventures in love and courtship, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Manis an honest, compelling, and realistic examination of how men think about love and sex and what women need to know so that they can set realistic expectations of the men in their life.”

 My personal favorite!
“In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it NOW. By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.”
 
Or the OG that started my self-love journey, Eat, Pray, Love! “In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.”

Remember, you are worth all the wonderful things this world has to offer!

X O X O,

Ashley

Life Unexpected- Fatherly Love

I wanted to interview Matt Spanne for so many reasons. One of which is because I have known him for over 20 years, and I still know there is so much I don’t know. He and I couldn’t be from more different worlds. It’s the dichotomy of friendship, one people scratch their heads at, but we are as thick as thieves.

I have struggled for weeks to figure out the best way to share my experience of taking Matt out for coffee, so I want to thank you all for understanding as I figured out my process. I struggled with what to share with the public, because it’s not my story to tell. It’s not my life, it’s not my struggles, nor my achievements. Yet it’s my opportunity to receive so much guidance through his life experience, that it’s my duty to share what I’ve learned. I share his story with you from a place of gratitude, pride, adoration, and respect.

I want to thank Matt for being open, and honest to sitting down with me to share a part of his story. And for supporting me in my journey of finding myself, and who I want to be, and what I want out of this life.

If you know someone who would be perfect for the Coffee Shop series, drop me a line! Go out and spread that love like glitter my friends!

X O X O,

Ashley

Truth Bombs- Things Moms Want to Say… But Won’t!

Hey all you Moms out there! YOU ARE KILLING IT!

I can only imagine what goes through your head when you find out you are having kid, excitement, nervousness, joy, apprehension, appreciation, “oh shit”! Well, at least that’s what would go through my head.

And then you have that child, and you are faced with different feelings. So many of them so great! But then there are some not so great feelings, situations, or encounters. I want to thank all the moms out there who participated in my research. I have received replies from over two dozen moms for this article, so thank you!

Disclaimer- Those pictured may or may not have participated in the research. Moms shall remain anonymous. The images are from my photography clients, not necessarily research participants!

So here it is ladies and gentlemen! From the anonymous mouths of amazing moms, “Truth Bombs- Things Mom’s want to say, but won’t”! Enjoy 🙂

The Auntie Diaries

Being an aunt to my niece and nephew is one of the greatest joys of my life. I didn’t know I could love someone they way that I love them. I am definitely learning a lot about parenting through this experience. So if that time ever does come for me I want to thank my brother and sister for diving into the unknown, so I could be better prepared 😉

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I mean look at these kids. They have the best time together, it’s the cutest thing! Born exactly one year apart, April 15th is so much more than “tax day” to the Cook’s. We truly believe that it takes a village, so “The Auntie Diaries”, is a peek into the adventures I have with my Izz, and Jackson. I hope that you Aunts out there know that you are a major part of your niece or nephews life. The memories you create with them will help shape who they are, so take this honor seriously, because the impact you can have on them is probably greater than you think it is

2 Becomes 1, Becomes 3

It is always such an honor to me to be able to capture any sort of memory for people through my photography, let alone have that opportunity time and time again. Rachelle of Couture Beauty has invited me into her life on multiple occasions and this creative relationship has formed one of my most strong friendships.

We first connected over our crafts, me photography, and her, a master hair stylist and makeup artist. We would come up with these elaborate concepts and collaborate to make sure we were always doing something that stretched our skills.

We have grown a lot since we first started. I’ve moved more than half a dozen times, Rachelle built her business, worked for LA fashion week, won a beauty contest, got engaged, and married, and now, my stunner of a friend is going to be a mom. It was truly an honor to capture this most special time for her and Kyle!

You can find this mother to be and her team on FacebookInstagram, or good ole in person at 3850 Balfour Rd Suite 219, Brentwood CA. Tell her I sent ya 😉 And floral crown by Diane at Ribbons and Roses

To my dear friend and creative genius, I wish you all the best, and thank you for everything!

X O X O

Ashley

Get the Look- These are affiliate links, meaning there is no added cost to you, but if a purchase is made through the link I may make a commission on that purchase. Click picture for details!

DIY Car Airconditioning for your Infant

I went and saw my sister, Alena the other weekend to hang out with her and my nephew Jackson. He is sleep training right now, so all hands on deck is always a good idea. I had InstaStoried her car, because it looked out of this world. Literally, it looks like a robot or a spaceship.

My nephew is rear facing and gets so hot in the car! My sister’s car doesn’t have the capability to put any air vents in his direction that his safety is a major concern. Knowing how dangerous this is my sister took action. I ended up doing a DIY tutorial with my sister, which you can watch in the video below.

“When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

​I truly hope that if you have a little one, or know someone that does, please sit in the back seat with that child to see if the air flow is sufficient. If it is not, I encourage you to take action, like my sister did to ensure the safety of your little one.

I have provided a list of  the materials that we mentioned in the DIY video for your convenience and also to the premade air-conditioning system The Noggle.

The Items: Air Duct tubing, scissors, duct tape, hole puncher, and zip-ties. Or you can purchase The Noggle, or the Noggle Bundle here:
The Noggle
The Noggle Bundle

*This is NOT a sponsored post, but does contain Affiliate links. If items are purchased through site I may receive a commission.

The Lost Art of Communication

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The Lost Art of Communication

Coffee, Cohorts, and Conversation

I have a challenge for you, go into a coffeeshop and look around. How many people are on a computer, their phone, or reading a book or the newspaper? I’m going to take a guess here and say about 75-80% Does that sound about right?

It seems these days people are looking down at a screen, they don’t look up and smile at those around them, let alone say “hello”. We are in a constant state of “hurry”, we are more often than not in a rush. And why? So we can work our lives away and forget to experience the life we have? We are letting special moments and connection pass us by without even understanding the blessing we might have recieved if we were just present.

I’m not saying that I feel the sands of time slipping through my fingers. However, I do know that life has become too chaotic, and new priorities are constantly popping up. I haven’t been as mindful as I would like to be. I have moved 6 times in 3 years and have found myself at a loss of connection. Now that I can call Sacramento my home, I wanted to challenge myself, and those around me. Because let’s face it, keeping to yourself is easy, reaching out and asking someone to take time out of their day to talk, isn’t. And I have this major fear that I am semi-awkward in social settings.

Coffeeshops used to be a place to relax, have a good cup of joe, and catch up with your buddies. Now it’s a workplace for most. It’s a change of scenery from the home office, it is an “internet cafe”. And I’m not a fan of the shift. I want to bring it back to the good old days, like Cafe Bacio in my hometown where the old farmers would meet every week. So I decided to ask some people out to a coffee date to talk.

I decided on the original Insight Coffee Roasters on 8th St to set the scene for these “coffee dates”. The decor lends itself to conversation with a beautiful communal banquet table, bar tops, and comfy couches. It’s a quick bike ride from my house, and I am always a fan of supporting local business. I asked three people who intrigue me and whom I’d like to get to know better, for a cup of coffee and conversation.  I was stoked they all said yes!

In the coming weeks you will get to know some Sacramento locals who all have a story. I truly believe that there is so much we can learn from each other. This Coffee Shop Series “The Lost Art of Communication- Coffee, Cohorts, and Conversation” is an exercise in slowing down, listening, and connecting. I hope you will join me on the journey!

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Is there someone you would like to nominate to grab a cup of joe for part 2?

Xoxo,

Ashley

 

5 Reasons Photographers Need to Get Out From Behind the Camera

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First shoot ever! By Connie Leal

I said it, and I believe it! There are a handful of photographers I have spoken to throughout my career who have never stepped in front of the camera. Yes, pictures have been taken of them, but they have never been a subject or a client. If they are a talented photographer then what does it matter? In my opinion, it matters a LOT! A gifted photographer, Connie Leal, asked to take my picture many many years ago and a modeling contract followed, along with my desire to become a photographer. Having been on both sides of the camera I’ve learned a few things and want to share a few of them with you. So, photographers, put down the camera and start working those angles!

#5- If you expect it, you shall do it.

As a photographer you bank on people paying you for your services. Whether you shoot fine art, capture portraits, or document events you are providing a service and in exchange for that service your get paid, right? How can you expect someone to pay you for your work, if you’re not willing to pay for the same service yourself? I can almost bet that as a photographer you have been asked to work for free at least once. We want to be valued as an artist and as a business person, so let’s spread that karma around and value our fellow artists.

 

#4- It will make you feel amazing!

Have you ever had a reveal and your client is moved to tears? Or once the gallery link has been opened your phone blows up with texts of thanks and praise? That is such an amazing feeling! As a photographer that is a gift we are able to give, we freeze time! Memories are captured and will be shared for lifetimes to come.  But, have you been moved to tears, or blown up a photographers phone with no regard for your data plan? Has seeing a picture of yourself made you say, “wait, what? That’s me” with a smile across your face? You deserve to experience that euphoric feeling that you give to others. You’re worth it!

#3- Communication!

Photography isn’t about ISO, aperture, shutter speeds, golden hour, rule of thirds, and so on and so forth. It’s about communicating with people, and building a rapport so memories can be captured, art can be created, and so that people can build relationships. Being in front of the camera you are the subject and the photographer will guide you into poses and looks. Have you ever had a client that just didn’t understand your direction? Saying the same thing over and over won’t help. So slide into their shoes, and see what works and what didn’t make sense. Does your photographer say, “Move your head this way,” or do they mirror you, gesture, and guide you into the pose? “Bring your chin forward, now tilt your head down, roll your shoulder forward, and weight on your back foot, perfect! Now small smile! Fantastic!” The last statement doesn’t allow the client to think about how uncomfortable they might be, they simply follow directions. And if you’ve experienced getting this direction, you’ll be better at giving this direction.

#2- Actions speak louder than words

Now this one may be a little controversial. I follow a lot of photographers on InstagramFacebookPintrest, and different forums. One thing that I see that makes me cringe is when they say something like “I am a master at ______ an expert at_____, etc. And those ______’s could be “styling”, “posing”, “lighting”, “communicating”, “editing”, you get the idea. Instead of making these declarations, show them. Your portfolio is huge. It shows the work that you’ve done and more often than not will show future clients if your style is a good fit for them. In addition to your portfolio, show them you are a great stylist by coming up with a concept shoot, that you style, (hair, makeup, wardrobe, props, etc), show them you are a master poser by POSING in FRONT of the Camera, not hiding behind it! We have all had those clients that move so well with little direction from us. It’s like a gift from the heaven’s (Hello Gerald)! So show your clients you can move, you can pose, you understand that it might a little nerve-wracking getting your photograph taken, by GETTING your photograph taken!

 

#1- Being behind the camera doesn’t show future generations who you were, it shows what you did.

A common sadness that every member of my family has, is that there are not more pictures of my Mimi. She passed away when I was a junior in college and we wish that she could have lived a longer life. We wish she would have been around to see us all grow into the human beings we are now. I know we aren’t the only ones that feel that way. As photographers we do a really good job of capturing memories for those around us, but not for us. I am sure we are all the designated picture snapper for our families, but are you in the photos? Is anyone capturing the fact that you were there? I know my Mimi was behind the camera, and now that she is gone I really wish she were in front of it. I know your family will wish that too!

Everyone has their own reasons for being behind the camera and in front of it. I am honored to have captured some special moments for the following photographers: Brittany DeaconAlexyss MarieTamara Picazo, and Matt Spanne.

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X O X O,

Ashley

 

Life is Unexpected

From “Corntown” to “Hippyville”, the “City by the Bay”and now “Cowtown” I’m a girl who’s made some epic mistakes, who does not have it all figured out, nor do I feel like I have to. I know that love comes and goes, and the hardest situations don’t have to break you. I know that there are lessons to be learned if we listen and there is something to celebrate even in the darkest moments. This blog isn’t just about me and what I’ve learned so far, or what I am working on, but it is about the many people who have embraced the “unexpected” and are living gratefully. Like I said before, I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m living life on purpose and embracing the journey.

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