I was asked earlier this week to elaborate more on what I shared in my presentation last week, so I thought I’d go ahead and do that today. When I was asked to speak at Click Away I knew exactly what I’d pick as my topic. I’ve been teaching photography for 6 years now. Over those six years I’ve watched as several students have gone on to build thriving businesses. Many of my past students could be teaching me now. I’ve also seen many develop a love for photography only to allow various thieves to come in and rob them of that love. We all have different things in our lives that rob of us of joy. Some are obvious to us, some take a little longer to recognize. In my session at Click Away, we worked to discover our personal thieves and reminded ourselves what captivated us about photography in the first place.

I’ve watched from afar as many students get so excited to learn how to use their camera and then go on to take more advanced classes only to get discouraged. As social media, namely blogs and instagram, grows it is so much easier to see what other people are doing…what other photographers are capturing. With all that access comes endless opportunities for inspiration and growth, there also comes more opportunities for joy to be stolen. Thieves look different for every photographer: comparison, the quest to always have a ‘perfect’ photo, camera gear, editing skills, etc. For me, I can easily look around at the talent of other photographers and get discouraged about my own skills. If I’m not mindful and careful that discouragement can cause me not to want to pick up my camera. I have to watch out for thieves as a photographer – and in life in general.

I began my session, by sharing the following photo and asking the women to share everything ‘wrong’ with the shot.


Total chaos. Every year we do an Easter egg hunt at my grandparents house. Lesley and I hunted in that yard up until we started having kids. This photo was taken on Easter 2013. I wanted so badly to get one shot of my grandpa with all of my kids and Lesley’s kids. My grandpa had given my oldest several bags of books to borrow and I asked my son to move them out of the picture. He wasn’t listening. He was too busy trying to push over my aunt. I tried every trick to get the kids to look my direction. None worked. I think my dad is trying to hide behind the girls so they don’t run off. My grandpa is yelling at me because he can’t hear me. I shot for several minutes and that was the best shot I got.

At first I was disappointed. I mean not a single person is actually looking at the camera. It didn’t take long before I realized how much I cherished this shot. If everyone had been looking at the camera and smiling, that would not reflect those that I love. So many of the stories would be lost. This photo is a treasure to me.  Six months later my grandpa unexpectedly passed away. This is the last shot I have of him with all of my kids and Lesley’s. If he was smiling in this shot, I might like the shot. The fact that he has that expression with his hand held to his ear and chaos surrounding him – makes me LOVE this shot. It reminds me of WHO he was, not just what he looked like.

There are numerous things ‘wrong’ with that photo. You will never see it displayed at photography competition. It won’t grace the cover of a magazine. And I don’t care. It is one of the most vivid reminders of why I pick up my camera. At the end of the day, I want to capture the WHO and the stories of those I love, not win a photography award or accolade.

I also shared this next photo:9.14why-02

The photo above was taken with my phone during what felt like a very mundane season. It is grainy. It is messy. It is a bit chaotic too. During that season of life I often felt like my youngest daughter would never transition from smoothies in a bottle to eating with a spoon. It was a moment repeated over and over again every day. In the background, laundry is piled on a chair and my other kids are pulling each other across the wood floor with a blanket. It felt like a hard phase. It was a hard, mundane phase.

The phase is over now. She eats at the table with a spoon and a bowl. We enclosed part of our front porch to make a laundry room so that chair is now usable all the time. The kids still sweep the floor with each other though. When I look back at that photo, I am immediately reminded of the difficulty and beauty of that phase of life. It is another reminder why I pick up my camera everyday.

I shared several other examples at Click Away and we talked about some other stuff too. My session was 90 minutes long, no one wants to read this blog for 90 minutes! I ended my time with this final photo of my grandpa and oldest daughter.9.14why-03

Whenever Grandpa saw her, he would always ask, “How’d you get to be so pretty?” She would smile and reply, “from my Nana.” On this particular Saturday night, she picked out a special dress because she thought her Great Grandpa would like it. We got to his house and started walking down the driveway. He was sitting in his usual chair, working in his garden. It is where we often found him during the growing season. My girl walked a bit and then stopped to wait for him to look up. In that moment, I was captivated by the two of them. By the story they shared. By the simple routine repeated most Saturday nights. I pulled out my phone quickly and was able to snap the photo. It isn’t a perfect shot. It is a grainy photo shot. I’m sure someone judging this photo on technical merit could list a million things wrong with it. And that is fine. To me – it is priceless. It reminds me why I pick up my camera every day. I pick up my camera for me. For my family. For those that I love.

It has been nearly a year since Grandpa last asked her that question. From time to time, my daughter and I look at the photo above and we relive the story. Though with time her memory of him will fade, hopefully that photo will remind her of the special story, the special relationship she shared with her Great Grandpa. She’ll remember the beauty he always saw in her. And I’ll keep picking up my camera.

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  • Share - This was so, so good.

  • Celena - I came to tears as I read this. I wish I’d had more pictures together with my mother before she passed in 2009. I only have 2 that I truly cherish, even though they’re not great shots and they’re FAR before my time as a photographer. It hurts my heart to see people with more photos of them sitting/standing rigid and smiling at the camera than photos of them LIVING life and interacting with one another. They’re both important, but the life ones are more so. Without them, how will you RELIVE the pure joy you got from daddy’s tickles? How will you experience the love and fascination you had of mommy’s hair because it’s a different texture than yours? How will you know that Papa treasured you beyond anything else I’ve seen in this world and you treasured him just as much. Thank you for writing this.

  • Susan - Lovely post! It had me tearing up. It is so moving and exactly right. I am sure your full presentation was great! I would read 90 minutes of it on the blog. :-)

  • Kath - Absolutely beautiful post. I got a bit choked up, especially on the last paragraph. I am sure your talk at Click Away touched many many women.

  • P Koziol - I LOVE this post!

  • Tessa - Wow. Such a lovely post and wonderful reminder. Thank you for sharing. I often struggle with comparison and feeling like my pictures are unworthy. Your words inspire me to shut out those feelings and pull out my camera for the reasons I originally set out. My children are growing, changing. I love looking back on different seasons of our lives. Images I can never capture again. Thank you!

  • Sadie - Oh Ashley. This post has me in tears. The relationship with her and her grandfather is so precious. Makes you realize how important those relationships are. And I would have loved to have read a 90 min blog post by you!

  • Kim - Beautiful!

  • Candice - That is wonderful Ashley! I have to remind myself of that too! I am in the midst of a tough season but I need to capture it!

  • Tessa - Ashley, thanks so much for this! I have tears … I love the last photo and the story behind it. I also related so much to the picture of Little One with her bottle. I am in a mundane season also right now, and I know that one day I will look back on these days and my heart will ache. I took a picture with my phone of my two youngest with me … it is just our feet as I have my baby propped on my lap nursing and my 2 year old is snuggled next to us with her baby doll. So, there are some plastic feet in the picture too! Anyway, when I looked at that picture, I know it will be a reminder of these days … all of our feet snuggled together. :)

  • Jamie - What a beautiful reminder.

  • Jill - That last photo is perfection!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jessie - Oh boy this made me cry. This was just beautiful. Thank you

  • Beth Ann - Beautiful! What a wonderful reminder. I have let my camera fall by the wayside, my latest ‘robber’ is that it is old, out of date and needs professionally cleaned. Really it just needs to be used :)

  • Emily - Oh that last one brought tears to my eyes. All of those photos are cherished by the most important person! I much rather prefer the imperfect than those posed and photoshopped!Thanks for sharing your heart.

  • Aunt Sandy - WOW. That’s the best way to describe this post with tears in my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures and thoughts of Dad. I don’t think I have ever seen any of these pictures of him. You captured him to a tee. You captured how amazing our Saturday nights were with him. You captured how much he enjoyed his Grand Daughters, his Great Grand children, and, how much joy they all brought to his life. I love the picture of Firecracker waiting for Dad to look up and say “how did you get so pretty”, I sure miss that. I am so glad you have the gift of taking heart felt pictures, chaos, and, all. After all, that’s our family.

  • Birdy - It would be a great pleasure to me to hear out your speech.. it is one special story you tell us readers so often here on your blog… and I fell your words moved the listeners of Click Away… at least, they moved me to tires, as you show the beauty of life in simple pic-reminders!

    Love from Germany and the -fatcatconnection-


  • Christina G - I just got a call less than an hour ago that my grandfather passed away, so this post hits so close to home for me. Thank you for posting this. I needed it today.

  • Karen Choat - Perfectly imperfect pictures are my favorite. I love having the posed pictures of course but it is the imperfect candid shots that bring back a memory, of what was happening at that moment. I have a few of those imperfect pictures only in my mind because I did not think to pick up the camera. My father had been ill and hospitalized for a time and because things did not look good and I was keeping my granddaughter for spring break my daughter and her husband drove up to get her so I could help and be with my dad. We all went to the hospital so they could visit with my dad and I remember watching my sil tell my dad about winning 3rd place in a golf tournament using my dad’s clubs that he could no longer use. My dad was dying, in a lot of pain, but I remember the huge smile that spread across his face when Sean told him that story. Later that night I stood by my dad holding his hand when he left this world. He was suffering so badly at that moment and when I cannot wipe that vision from my mind I flip back to earlier that day and see that smile. I wish I had a picture to share with my family but am thankful I have it at least in my mind. Keep taking those imperfect pictures Ashley and keep doing the magic you do here on your blog. You are a gift.

  • Debbie Mayfield - I am sitting here at my desk with tears in my eyes. I absolutely love the photo of your daughter waiting for her great grandpa to look up. Priceless!!!

  • Michelle Hill - oh boy, tears again, haha. You are a constant source of inspiration. Thank you for sharing your “soap box” with us. And for the record, yes, I could easily read a 90 minute blog post from you :)

  • susie - Great post! I would read all 90 mins too! I guess you have a lot of new blog ideas… do one per week!

  • Kelly J. R. - This post makes me want to drive right over to my grandparent’s place and take some photos of them together. They are both in their late 80′s and now I’m panicking that I won’t get a shot of them together again.

  • Lisa Miner - Absolutely beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

  • Paige - Tears tears tears! THIS blog is what has made me pick up my iPhone or point and shoot camera. And not to delete all the “imperfect” photos I have. To not be afraid to share photos that aren’t shot with $500 cameras with spiffy straps and bags. Not that there is anything wrong with that awesome equipment. Its just not a part of my story. But my story is still worth capturing. Thanks for your dedication to promoting that!

  • Krystina - Thank you for this post. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately and haven’t been taking as many photos as I could’ve been. This post has given me a breath of fresh air. Now all I want is to pick up my camera and go.

  • Jeannine - I love love love that first photo of yours. In this day an age of instant gratification seeing your shot straight away and endless editing I get so bored of “perfect” photos. In that first shot my eye was drawn directly to your grandfather. Wasn’t that sort of the point. I can tell from his pose just what sort of character he is. Sure, you could have had some beautiful garden backdrop behind, but that red brick takes me right back to my grandparents’ suburb. I know exactly what that suburb probably looks like and can imagine the inside of the house. That shot, much more than any shot with “imperfections” cropped out conveys what I feel you were trying to capture. I love it!

  • Kate B. - Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sarah - Hi, I love your blog and am captivated by the beauty of your pictures! I was wondering what would you suggest for someone who has NO experience behind a camera. I’m not even an amateur photographer. Once upon a time I bought an inexpensive Nikon cool pix at Costco but I never even use that anymore. Mostly, I’m relying on my iphone to capture our family pictures. I’m inspired by your blog to at least ask this question. What if I wanted to take the next step but am still sooo far off from taking a workshop? I’d love to learn more but am intimidated by the cost, and how much there is to learn! Can you suggest some baby steps?
    Much thanks,

  • amber - Well, didn’t expect that post to make me cry! I love reading your heart on this blog. Thank you so much for sharing here. Such a bright spot in my day…& what a sweet, sweet memory of such a special guy. We have one great grandma left in our lives & my kids get to visit her every week. Such a tremendous gift for sure.

  • Crystal - Thanks for this post, I really needed to read it. To remember that I am the caretaker of the everyday memories, not perfect photos.

  • Kristi Rediske - Wow-you have me crying but in a good way! I love taking pictures-non are as good as yours but i am picky, now I realize i need to look more at my pictures for the real story and not perfection-Thanks!

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing with us, for those of us who weren’t at Click Away. You are an inspiration!

  • Flor - loved your post Ashley. seriously, you almost had me bawling at the end. I’ve been in a little funk and haven’t been picking up my camera lately. and now I think back at how much I have missed! thank you for sharing your heart and the importance of letting go of the ego and just capturing that special moment <3

  • Sharla - Bawling at work, thanks :)

  • Ashley - Beautifully expressed, and such a great reminder! I’m still learning photography, and it seems the more I learn, the more I let the thieves in. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Ali - I am not usually one to comment but I felt like this post was meant for me to see… I have been struggling with continuing to pick up my camera, to see past the flaws in my own pictures… This reminded me of what is really important about taking pictures and why I too need to pick up my camera every. single. day.

    Thank you for this beautiful inspiration today!


  • sayonada - This should be labeled “NSFW” as I am crying at my desk right now. Lovely post, Ashley Ann.

  • Ingrid - love this post x

  • Rachael - I love this so very much. I’m taking a beginner DSLR class right now and feeling those joy thieves at work. This beautiful reminder to hold on to the joy is so timely that it’s like you were reading my mind! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work, even…no, especially the technically imperfect pictures of a beautiful life.

  • Jenny B. - Make me cry, why don’t you!? ;) Just kidding. Well, not really since I am about to cry. :) It’s good, though. Such important reminders. I was just thinking earlier today that I need to be more mindful of what’s in the background when I’m taking a photo, and I was wondering how I’m supposed to make sure the light is in the right place AND have a clutter-free background when everywhere I look in my house, I see clutter. :) I needed to hear this today. It’s OK if all the photos of my kids have messes in the background. Someday, we’ll look back on those messes and they will help us remember what these days were really like.

  • Catherine - Wow, where DID these onions come from??? :)

  • Katie - Wow…just as so many others, I was brought to tears, at work! (good thing I am pregnant so my male co-workers think nothing of it!) The expression of your family’s relationships is so real and wonderful and…loving. :) You hit the head on all my fears of inadequacy in my photography and brought me back to a fresh perspective, to a new beginning of my love for “recording” the blessings that surround me. Beautiful, Ashley!

  • Lindy - Oh Ashley–this brought tears. One of my favorite things in the world is watching my 90 year old Granny with my four kids. How she loves them fiercely. I can just hear that conversation taking place between your daughter and your Grandpa, and it just makes me smile. Love among the generations–priceless. I’m so sorry that he’s gone.

  • Laura M. - Perfect. This post was the perfect reminder that I needed. Taking your online class helped me to FINALLY understand shooting in manual, which improved my photos so now I have so much of a better time capturing the people I love the way I see them all the time. THAT is what is most important to me. And also….I could totally read a 90 minute blog post of yours, just maybe not in one sitting. Kids need things and all. :)

  • shadi - Beautiful picture, beautiful story!

  • Diana - Lovely thoughts! I love that picture of your daughter and her great grandpa. What a special moment to capture!

  • Jenny - This was a great post. I would have TOTALLY spent 90 minutes reading it, were there more… ;-) Thank you.

  • Carolyn - Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post. It is one of the many reasons I enjoy your blog. Right now I feel like I am in a very mundane season, but your words and photos are very encouraging. I will continue to pick up my camera, searching for lovely things to be grateful for each day. Once again, thank you.

  • amy cornwell - Like everyone else, tears. So, so precious.

  • Denise L. - This is EXACTLY why I pick up the camera, and Ashley, you have illustrated it perfectly. Thank you.

  • Megan - For the record, I have read your blog for lots longer than 90 minutes (mostly going through all the old CL/CP posts).

    But I love all of your photographs – the perfect and “less perfect” ones. I’m a total photog beginner and hope to maybe take your class (or another online class) someday to start learning what the heck I’m doing with my Nikon.

    Hey, can you give me the name of the doc in Dallas that you all used? I posted on an old thread about it – our referral is looking like it will likely be a CL/CP kiddo, and I want to read up as much as I can in the meantime.

  • Brenda - Goose-bump inducing! Beautiful!

  • Flower Patch Farmgirl - This is so good,friend. Your grandpa cupping his ear!!! Thanks for the reminders about what the whole point really is.

    PS – I thought my kids were the only ones who do that weird blanket thing… ALL THE TIME. :)

  • Daniel - Yes, like some of the others… I would read a 90 minute blog post from you as well. Get to work. K, thanks. haha :)

  • Mel - All of these are beautiful. My photography was robbed this summer, I felt burnt out, doubtful about the quality of my work and I put my big camera away in a box for 3 months and walked past that box every day with no inclination to take it out. Losing my passion actually scared me (I feel like its one of only a few things I actually do well) and its been a hard road getting back to it, but when I take a look at my photo files I know I am so grateful for what I have captured and need to get back on track. I make myself bring it with me now, and I got a new love for iphone photography this summer. I still worry that if I am taking photos of my kids playing, then I myself are not playing with them, so I am better about limiting it around them and just maximizing 5 mins instead of 20 mins of me trying to get the perfect shot. I really love this post, and identify with it so much, every single photo of yours brought a smile to me.

  • Jane Bee - I was one of the lucky ones to be at your presentation at ClickAway. You so inspired me and reminded me about what makes me love photography. Catching the moment that captures a memory is so much more important than getting the most technically perfect photo. You have a beautiful family. Meeting you and Chris was one of the highlights of my trip.

  • Shelly Cunningham - I am crying over the loss of your beloved grandpa. I am so sorry.

  • Emily | Gather & Dine - I really needed to read this post. You are one of my favorites because you have such a refreshing perspective on things. and btw, I would also read your blog for 90 minutes. :)

  • Carrie - I love this post. It’s something I need to read often. It’s hard not to want to be technically perfect in every shot and just enjoy the journey of getting better with every picture and every story.

  • Crystal - Goodness, I probably would’ve been crying during your whole session! such good reminders!

  • Renee Bergeron - Yes! Everything about this post is perfect.I often find myself not picking up my camera because my laundry basket is in the living room, my house is a mess, the kids are still in their jammies. Thanks for the reminder!

  • jenny - oh, thank you! you are so very right! and i needed to be reminded of this. lately i’ve been skipping out on photos when the house is a mess, or they’re sitting on that couch that i hate, etc, etc. but i’m missing out on saving those beautiful memories of exactly where we are in life… thank you for reminding me that i take photos for me… for my family. it’s so crazy that i can forget that :)

  • Melissa - I check your blog frequently and always find myself inspired, not just by your heartfelt photography but by your words as well. At a time when I find myself personally challenged (why do I even bother taking photographs? I’ll never be really “good”, etc.), this hit home. Thanks.

  • AshleyAnn - Sarah – There are a lot of different tutorials regarding photography out there you could start there. I know you said you don’t feel ready for a workshop, but I think you might like my phone course. It would give you composition and storytelling basics that you can use with your iPhone and your Nikon. I think it would be a great step in getting your feet wet with photography. From there you will be able to decide if you enjoy photography enough to dig deeper with a ‘big’ camera or if the basics meet your needs instead.

  • Maloree - Fact… your posts get better and better everytime. You are a beautiful writer. Thank you for sharing this cherished moment from your family.

  • hannah singer - love this beautiful sweetness. thankful for a minute to catch up here this morning, love your sharing. praying for y’all this week xo

  • Sarah zavdi - Thank you so much for responding to my question! I am going to take a closer look at your courses which I always had considered way too advanced for me.
    Thanks again!,

  • Susaan - Because of my years of reading your BLOG and following your family, I always keep my camera out and at arms reach. Just this weekend I was able to capture some priceless pictures of my grandchildren over playing in a simple blow up pool. These pictures are not perfect from a photography stand point, but they are priceless to me.

    Thank you for teaching me to keep my camera out and handy.

    Susan in San Diego

  • Liv - Beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Valerie - Ashley, you inspire me! This is the reason that I learned photography. It’s so easy to get frustrated that my abilities do not match so many of the talented women on Clickin Moms, nor do they even meet my expectations a lot of the time. The important thing is to have captured them, even if imperfectly. Thanks for the reminder.

Sometimes it is easy for me to get in a routine with photography. Same lens. Same settings. Same location (well, obviously we live, school and work in one place). I’ve been trying to challenge myself to do things out of my routine. Typically, I use a zoom lens when I am trying to capture the kids on the trampoline because it gives me more flexibility than a prime lens (a lens that you can’t zoom in and out). She loves jumping, so I thought I’d attempt to capture her with my 50mm prime lens.

I didn’t capture many I like of her in the air, but I did come away with a few new favorites of her. Challenges are good.


She loves to lay on her back and let me bounce her…9.14jump-029.14jump-039.14jump-049.14jump-05That last one is just so very her. Sweet and spunky with a twinkle in her eyes. Also, she has really great hair.

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  • meg - Our trampoline is hard because it has the net on it… so I tend to have to get really close and miss some action shots. P.S. I was thinking “she has awesome hair” and then saw your last comment. Ha!

  • Kelley - Ok those last 2 with her arms behind her head just kill me!!!! She is adorable!!! And her hair is really great!! Mine never looks that cute!

  • Carri - Oh I just love her so much!! She is precious. These are amazing.

  • danielle - These are adorable :) I like challenging myself also.

  • Joy - Little One just gets prettier everyday!

  • Debbie Mayfield - She looks so very happy. You are doing a great job!

  • Jen L. - She is soooo cute, I can’t take it. That twinkle. That smile. Those “I’ve got this” crossed arms behind her head. She does have a great head of hair. And she looks like she is filled to the brim with love.

    Thanks for sharing her with me/us,

  • Renee Johnson - What a beautiful young lady :)

  • Jenny - Your pictures always turn out amazing! I’m totally jealous of your skills. I believe I have the same equipment as you, but your eye and talent are unique, resulting in your awesome one of a kind photos! :)

  • christina larsen - Such a cutie! My O has great hair, too. Always smooth and shiny and straight! :)

  • Carrie Rowe - She is just so precious!!!! Thank you for sharing these.

  • Jaime ? Raising up Rubies - she’s just so beautiful Ashley! you do good work mama.

  • Snow Lynn - Oh my! She is growing so much and is just adorable! I wish my bangs looked half as good as hers :) I too find that I use my zoom a lot more, and my 50 gets left out, but when I remember to use it… I get awesome shots too. Definitely worth the challenge of something different once in awhile.

  • Nichole Young - The last couple posts of Little One photos are just sweet as sugar! I hope you are able to share these with her previous foster care center in China? I think they would be tickled to see them, and it would be so inspiring for folks who visit and who are also adopting children from that same place, to see how far she has come and how happy she looks.

  • Cheryl E - She is beautiful! I love her smile!!

  • kimberly oyler - how has she gotten so big?? i can’t even handle it!

  • Linda - Ashley (because we are on a first name basis), she is beautiful!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Ha! Right before I read the last line on this blog post I was looking at the second to last picture thinking “that girl has spunk!” Right on.

  • Maria - Whenever I come to see your blog, I am so happy this girl got to come into your family. Happy both for you and for her and your family in general.

  • Tara - I just love her spirit, super fun spunk!

  • Michelle Davies - She is SO super adorable! What a sparkle she has!

  • Holly - Two comments in the same week is a first for me. She is so beautiful! I just needed to tell you that. And… We are looking at trampolines for our almost 5-year old’s birthday in October. Any suggestions on what to look for and what to steer clear of?

  • Blair - She is beautiful, and I believe that twinkle is because of you and her family. Look close and you can see yourself.

  • Elisha - I think these are my fav. photos of her

  • Ingrid - that last shot is beyond beautiful x

  • Katie - She is beautiful! That sparkle is for sure enhanced by the blessing of being your family.

  • Darcie - Wait, what?! How OLD is she in that last pic? Visions of a sassy beautiful teenage girl just flashed in my head. The same thing that happens when I look at my daughter every once in a while. Yikes! But really… beautiful woman and cute little girl all in one.

  • ellie - these photos! so.very.sweet. and her eyelashes – gah! my china girl is 8 and she asks if hers will get longer as she gets bigger :( sweet girl has none.

  • Cathy - She is so sweet. I love her smile!

  • Haley - Oh my goodness, these are all just so sweet!

I was so nervous about ClickAway. It wasn’t so much being up in front of everyone as much as wanting to make their time investment in my ‘session’ worth it. Most of the sessions were on tangible photography skills…editing, shooting, composition, etc. Mine was simply about joy in photography – why we love photography and how to maintain that joy while still striving to grow as a photographer. Many of us have thieves that come in and rob our joy in photography…motherhood…marriage…life. We talked a bit about those thieves and more importantly the WHY behind picking up our cameras. I hope the ladies that came felt like it was worth the time they invested. It is a topic I am passionate about in a field where the focus can often be on the product more than the reason behind it.

Soapbox could happen right now, but I’ll spare you!

Millers (the pro-lab that is over Mpix) sponsored my program and printed out an outline and stickers for me using my blog artwork by Katie Daisy.  I also conned my sister into letting me order 5×7 prints of her Everyday Is An Adventure print. I tried winning over attendees with cute little packets. I have blog stickers now…I feel the need to send random packages just to use the last few! It feels kind of official  – blog stickers and a program sponsor. Official for 3 days, now I’m back to normal life. Back to life…back to reality.



After my program I went to a “Meet the Speaker” – such a gift to meet several past SnapShop students and women that read this blog. I can’t tell them ‘thank you’ enough for coming to say hi. They were so encouraging, so kind and so warm towards me. Their smiles meant a great deal to me. I’ve written before that one challenge with blogging is I never really know how I come across on a computer screen. You can’t see my face or hear my laugh when I write. It was a tremendous gift to me to hear from those women why they read my random blog and hear their stories. It was life-giving and I don’t say that lightly. They inspired me. They breathed life into me. It was also pretty incredible to see where past SnapShop students are now. They could teach me so much. I’ve always loved teaching SnapShops, but getting to meet numerous students in person really made me realize how fun it is to introduce others to photography. So good. Thank you ladies.


Chris and I took advantage of no kids to do something we basically never do – EAT OUT! And we ate good. Red Iguana and Bruges Waffles were my favorite. We ate a Bruges twice in three days. That good. We also gained about 10 pounds, but it was totally worth it.9.14clickaway-05

Aside from time with Chris, the best part of the trip was meeting new friends and getting to catch up with old friends. Quick chats and meals together learning about each other. Time together catching up and encouraging each other. Friends are a gift and there are some I long to see more often and am so bummed too many miles separate us. Friends, new and old, are good for the soul.

My friend Joy taught me that to ‘inspire’ means to ‘breath life into’. These two ladies, Kate & Joy, are a constant source of inspiration in my life. They have both breathed life into me in ways I am forever grateful. It was really good to get to hug their necks again.9.14clickaway-08

The women at Click Away, new friends and old, breathed so much life into me over those three days. They challenged me to do the same. I want to be a women that breathes life into those I am around. I want to start at home. Today. Breathing life into my family in my words, my actions, my expressions and my embrace….

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  • izzy - Click away sounds like such fun! I really like the way you share about the reason behind photography. Sometimes I just let my siblings take the camera and although they don’t get many great shots it’s the fun they had that was worth it!

  • Sprite - You are a huge inspiration in my life! Everyone must have been so blessed by your program. What a wonderful opportunity for you and everyone who got to learn from you.
    Those packets and stickers are just darling! So beautiful.

  • Krista Lund - Your blog is one of the 3 I read daily. Love it! Love you! Loved meeting you and Thank you for one of the many A-Ha Moments. During your session I realized why I loved photography in the first place and what are the thieves that are robbing me of that joy.

  • Michelle Hill - Ashley,
    You inspire me everyday!
    Earlier this year I was in a sad moment in my life and reading your blog brought me right out of it. You inspired me to appreciate life and be grateful for what I have. I snapped out of my funk and started to work on the things that weren’t working so well.
    I am forever grateful I stumbled upon your blog. It has truly changed my life for the better.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Carrie Owens - It was so great to see you in person, I was at your Meet the Speaker and I just loved hearing your talk about your thoughts on blogging. Thank you for coming to Salt Lake to speak to all of us…I was too shy to say hi, but “hi” :)


  • Kimberly Oyler - if you need my address so you can use up those blog stickers, you can get it for Lesley. ;)

  • rebecca - Hi Ashley! If your friend on the right of your photo sees this….I’d love to know where she found that fabulous mustard sweater! I love it :)

  • marianne - I’d love a card and sticker , perfect for project life and I love your blog!!

  • Laura J - Ashley, you come across as warm, kind, thoughtful, generous and fun! I think many of us feel like you are a friend that lets us into her life. You make me smile, laugh, sometimes cry and often think. You are a wonderful person and I wish I could give back to you just a tiny bit of all that you have given me with your words and pictures. I am thankful for you!

  • Angela - Is it too much to ask you to go on ahead and get on your soapbox? I dabble in photography, not as a job- just for fun at home and at my work (a Zoo), but I would really love to hear more about your thoughts on finding joy in photography, etc.

    But it’s okay if you don’t want to. Your blog. :)

  • Jane - Gosh, I guess I have never realised it but I feel as though when I read your blog I can totally hear your voice and see you face. You come across as a genuine, regular person who loves her family, creating, photography and God.
    I live in Australia so the voice that I hear probably doesn’t have the correct accent, but it is warm and generous and loving – I would love to have been in your session, sounds so encouraging and inspiring.
    PS you should totally use the stickers – what a treat it would be to whomever you choose to send some love to in the mail!

  • Angela - I’ve never heard the word “inspire” described like that, but I love it and it makes so much sense. I love thinking about it that way.

  • Kym - I’ve only discovered your Blog recently but love everything about it and have passed on a link to my sister, who is battling depression. Love your great photography ideas, family holiday pics and thoughts on adoption but most importantly your sweet love for the Lord that shines through every post. You’re a blessing and please keep it up!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - It was so amazing to see you in person again! You are such a precious gift to my heart. You inspire me every day and you remind me why I pick up my camera. Thank you! And please tell Chris that it was wonderful to get to hang out with him, too!

  • Kimathy Brody - Looks like an amazing experience for you and the participants! But YIKES! How do you do it all? Wife, mother of 5 children, photographer, heart for others, heart for the Lord, DIY-er, homeschooler….just writing your roles wears me out! :) Seriously…how do you manage your time, priorities, and organize your family? I become so weary trying to do half of what you do that I am starting to think my gift and passion for photography needs to be put on the back burner until my children graduate from high school. Suggestions? Thoughts? Tips? Advice?

  • Brittony - I wish I could have been there to hear that talk – what a great topic. Congrats on the success and officialness of it all! Agreed with Angela that you should just step right on up on that soapbox for those of us that missed the live show.

  • Lacey Meyers - My heart sinks thinking of how much I needed to hear your presentation… I so wish I could have heard it. Though it was quite a blessing to visit with you and Chris briefly, and then you on the panel discussions. Please believe me when I say that you are EXACTLY like I thought you would be. Just as delightful, genuine, and lovely. Hearing your voice and laughter was certainly a highlight of my trip! :) And, thank you for being a part of Click Away!

  • Julie - Bruges! One of my favorite places to eat when in SLC. I also love Cafe Rio.

  • Sarah - I’m glad to hear that you had a great time at your conference! I wish I could have been there to be at your session. I loved learning from you during SnapShop and would love to learn from you again. I actually just edited and posted some of my pictures from class :) slow but good progress! And thanks for reminding us about the joy that comes from picking up our cameras.

  • Tracy - Ashley,

    You did so great and it was a pleasure meeting you and getting to hear your voice in real life! Your session was one of my faves – and that was echoed by everyone in attendance.

    Thanks for the daily inspiration!

  • ange - LOVED meeting you and getting to spend time with you. I really can’t tell you what that meant to me. Now I need to send you some pictures from that beautiful day! And excuse my tears of joy, seriously embarrassing.

  • Sarah Wilkerson - Ashley, I’m so thankful we had a panel together!! I loved the way you shared your shooting philosophies and the heart and thoughtfulness with which you seem to approach everything you do. <3 Thank you so much for being a part of Click Away!! I hope to see you soon!! xo

  • Heather Lee - Hi. I had the pleasure of meeting both you and Chris after your discussion panel. It was one of the highlights of Click Away to meet the two of you — and to see that you are just as I imagined from this blog. I so enjoy your posts and am so glad I got to say “hi” to you. I hope to see you at the next one!!

  • Missy - That’s me in the striped pink shirt talking to you at Meet the Speaker! I was thrilled to finally get to shake your hand. I adore your blog – so much love, honesty, and kindness in it. Wasn’t Clickaway the best? I miss it!!