Today’s interview is with Ashley Westphal!
Congrats on being August’s CMPro of the Month! Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Thank you so much! CM is where I started my photography journey, so I could not be more excited to be here!
I think my family and I can be wrapped into two words: fearless adventurers. I’m a private pilot, my husband and I are advanced SCUBA divers, and my husband, my four-year-old daughter, and I spend our free time either planning trips or taking trips. Our lives revolve around creating and finding adventure, and we’ve gotten fairly good at it. 😉
How did you get started in photography? When did you know that you wanted to open up your own business and begin shooting clients?
I don’t think I’m any different than a good majority of your readers—I got my start when my daughter was born. I have a masters degree in business administration, so it became apparent pretty quickly that I’d like to turn it into a business some day, so as I was learning, I did so with an eye on opening my own business one day. Once I felt I was ready technically and from a business standpoint, ashleywestphal.com was launched and the rest is history.
How did you break into the high school senior market? What made you decide you wanted to make this niche your business specialty?
I attended a senior photography workshop before opening my doors, and it was clear to me that this was where the magic was for me. I was good at it, I connected well with the seniors, and I found myself having fun shooting.
As for breaking in, it’s not an easy thing to do, but I priced myself high to set myself apart in the market, and launched a brand that targets a very specific niche of girls. Once I did that, things took off.
Can you give us a peek in your bag? If you could shoot with only one lens for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Wait, can I pick two for two different purposes? ☺ For client work, it’s hands down the Canon 135L. I adore that lens, and shoot with it almost exclusively for my senior work.
Actually, those three lenses (along with a 50mm 1.4) are all I’m working with these days, so I guess you’ve gotten your sneak peak into my (perfectly sized for travel Jo Totes Abby) bag. 🙂
Do you have any long term goals related to your business? What’s the dream for Ashley Westphal Photography?
I have a full time day job in the airline industry that I adore, so my long-term goal isn’t to go full time in photography (unusual, right?). My goals center around a couple of things: 1) Making a positive impact on the world by showing women they are strong and can do bright, bold, fearless things and 2) making sure my life is balanced. In addition to the work I do with seniors, I have discovered that I have a huge passion for helping women entrepreneurs do Bright, Bold, Fearless things, and I think the next step for Ashley Westphal Seniors re-balancing my time to fit in some time educating women entrepreneurs on how to run a fearless business (while continuing to show high school seniors they are strong).
How do you balance the business of photography specializing in client work with enjoying photography as a personal outlet in your everyday life?
This is such a great question. Honestly, it’s a constant struggle for me. I was just going through my computer and I realized that I haven’t been photographing my daughter NEARLY enough. When I travel, though, one big lesson that I’ve learned is that if I force myself to bring out the “big camera” all the time, I start to resent it and don’t shoot. So, I picked up a great point and shoot (RX100) and shoot with my iPhone a lot. That relieves the pressure to shoot and brings the fun back for me.
In terms of shooting my every day life more, I’m in the middle of a Project31 on Instagram, and I’m hoping to be able to translate that to my “big camera” when that wraps up. I miss the great images of my baby (who’s not such a baby anymore)!
Your business tag line is “Bright, Bold, Fearless. What do these words mean to you?
Those words are so loaded for me. They represent who my clients are, who my parents raised me to be, and who I am raising my daughter to be. As women, we are naturally strong. We were made that way. The things our bodies are designed for are awe-inspiring and the epitome of strong. Yet, somehow, culturally, society has taught us to be the milder gender. Bright, bold, and fearless are meant to remind us that we are strong, and we are going to need to lean on that in the pursuit of our dreams.
A woman who is bright, bold, and fearless is willing to take risk to chase her dreams and wants to explore life outside of her bubble. She wants to travel and understand and push herself, and while she may be afraid at some point in the pursuit of her dreams, she knows that she is strong, and she’ll face those fears head on.
You’re known for gorgeous images that really stand out with bright, bold color. What about this vibrancy makes it such a natural choice for your work?
Aw, thank you! All of that bright, bold, fearless stuff? It’s so important to me that I don’t’ just talk the talk, I walk the walk. One of the primary ways that I do that is using my images to tell a story through the use of color. I want to tell my story and the story of my seniors through the choices I make, and that bright, bold color is a big part of that.
Is bold color something you recognize organically in front of you or is it more something you create?
It’s both. I have taught myself to see color in a way that helps me convey my message, but I’m not afraid to use processing to enhance or even build it from the ground up if necessary.
You have a breakout coming later this month! What can participants expect from your materials? Who is this content geared for?
Yes! I am SO excited! I’ve worked so hard on it, and I can’t wait to share it with your readers.
The breakout is a comprehensive look at color, and a comprehensive look at my individual take on color. I talk about color theory, sharing your message with the world through color, why color matters so much to conveying that message, how to take that message and turn it into your own unique style, the impact of color on human psychology, how to start thinking and seeing color, the impact of light on color, practical field tips for how to see and shoot color, finding locations to shoot bold color, if you photograph people, how to prep those people for bold color, and finally, how to process bold color.
I’ve also included some bonus goodies like my core color processing actions, seven processing videos to help people see and understand how I process color, and instagram challenge designed to push the way you think about color in ways you never thought possible and a field guide to keep your brain thinking about color while you’re out shooting.
As you can see, it’s jam packed, and I really think it’s a great breakout for all skill levels and for shooters of all genres. Whether you’re a hobbyist just starting out photographing your own beautiful babies, you’ve been at this a while and you want to open a business focused on newborns, or you’re an old hat at this and you want to improve your landscape imagery (and everyone in between), I think you’ll find value in this breakout. Color is such an important conveyer of a story in an image that most skill levels and genres can benefit in a big way from this breakout.