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Daily Inspiration: Meet Ashley Fullwood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Fullwood.

Hi Ashley, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Photos have always held a high level of significance to me and taking pictures has been something that I’ve enjoyed doing since high school. My love and appreciation of photos was inspired by my grandmother, Marie. She was not a professional photographer, but she always had a camera with her to capture her family’s precious moments. She created dozens of albums filled with photos of friends, family, and events. I honestly can’t even count how many hours I’ve spent looking through those albums, laughing, and asking questions.

In college, I became a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., one of the Divine Nine Black Greek letter organizations. I held the office of Epistoleus, the chapter historian, where my job was to document the history of the chapter. This included photographing and scrapbooking all of our community service events, social gatherings and campus programs. This was a position that I enjoyed immensely.

I was inspired to take my hobby of photography further after I got married in 2010. I had such a wonderful experience with my wedding photographer that I wanted to learn more about the technical skills. So I traded in my point-and-shoot camera for a DSLR and started teaching myself by reading books, watching online videos, and attending virtual workshops. I started out just shooting anything I could when I would go on vacation or go to special events, then my friends and family started asking me to take photos for them, and the rest is history from there.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My photography career has most certainly not been a smooth road. It has been difficult as a small Black-owned business to get the traction and right clientele to grow like I initially envisioned. Access to finances and resources has been a challenge for me. I love photography, but I have not been in the position to make it my primary career… it is my second part-time career. It is definitely a struggle to balance the demands of my photography work with my full-time job because there are only so many hours in a day. I photograph most of my clients and events on the weekends, work my 8am – 5pm job Mon-Fri and then do my post-production work in the evenings once I put the kids to bed. Oh yea… talk about balance… did I mention that I am a mom of two beautiful brown babies and a wife? It is a lot to juggle and sometimes feels extremely overwhelming.

There have been periods along the way when I have had to pull back from my work as a photographer in order to focus on my family and my mental health. These periods have always been difficult but I am constantly praying for God to help me find a healthy balance and practice self-care so I can continue to do what I love.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I provide different types of photography services, from portraits, families, children, couples and headshots… but the work I love doing the most are events and special occasions. My photography style is primarily documentary in nature. Photography is an art to me, more than just snapping pictures, photos have meaning and I focus on telling a story. That is my specialty, storytelling through photography. I absolutely love documenting proposals, engagement sessions, weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays, and other events.

My work stands out because I capture the people, the details and the moments. My main focus when I am working an event is capturing the moments as they naturally unfold and happen. When my clients get their photos they are able to re-live their event/occasion from beginning to end. I am known for my blog posts and my photo albums. Before I fully finish editing an event, I create a blog post with the client’s story and a sneak peek of their session or event. They really love and appreciate this preview and are always excited to share it with their family and friends.

I am most proud of my perseverance as a woman of color in a career field dominated by White men (and more White women). I am proud of my work ethic and the detail, quality, and time I invest in every single photo session/event. I have done everything related to my business myself. Despite life, the challenges that have been thrown my way and all that I balance on my plate, I provide a wonderful customer experience, quality products, and unforgettable memories for my clients.

What matters most to you?
Providing a quality customer experience while being true to myself and my creative style matters most to me. I want my clients to be comfortable, have fun during their photo sessions and walk away feeling excited and satisfied so that they will come back and refer my services to others.

Social justice matters to me. To say we are living in unsettling times is an understatement. This country needs so much change and reform. As a Black woman, married to a Black man, raising two Black children, I can’t help but feel constant anxiety about the past, present, and future. I know it’s not always kosher to mix business and personal beliefs, but I am not just a business, I am a person. My morals, beliefs, values and experiences make me who I am and I will not silence my voice in fear of losing clients. Being authentic and letting my voice be heard matters to me.

Personal and professional growth also matters very much to me. We live in an ever-changing world; technology, trends, and people change constantly. It is important for me to keep learning and growing as the times change. There is always something new to learn and I relish the opportunity to improve my knowledge and creative skills.

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