Ashley West Photography » blog

1 Year Home Anniversary 1pintopinterest

This day last year was FRANTIC. It was a Monday, Nick had to work, and it was the only day we could close on the new house and move in without having to move twice based on the closing of our old house. Nick went to work, left work to sign the papers, went back to work, and then we moved into this house from 4-10pm with the help of all our friends and family. It was literal madness, but we were just grateful to have our bed setup and somewhere to sleep!

Although that somewhere to sleep wasn’t very warm… We lived without heat in the home from November to January. We made the switch from electric heat to gas and had to run a gas line and trench the yard and wait for the gas company to hook us up. Basically, it was a COLD Winter. With that, we also survived having no internet for two months, crazy slow internet for 9 months, and I’m happy to say as of 1 month ago we finally got hooked up to high speed. Lets just say it was an adjustment period for sure:)

Our last home was an adorable new M/I build with a small fenced in patio and we paid an HOA fee and the neighborhood took care of the lawn care… Our current home when we purchased it was 4 acres and 1800 sq ft of literal mess. I think all the time how in the world did we think we could do this!? I can’t lie, I’ve cried. I vividly remember calling my realtor in April saying LETS SELL IT. We can’t do it! We cannot keep up on everything with our jobs and lives. It would ebb and flow, some days easier than others. We went from spending our spare time on date nights and adventures to literally every moment that we weren’t working at our jobs we were working on this house (and my family too!) Its become our normal now so its not as shocking, but at first I more than missed our former life. This was such a huge lifestyle change and in the beginning the work seemed like it would never get done, saying it was overwhelming was the understatement of the century.

BUT – We are 1 year in! WE DID IT! WE MADE IT!!! I can’t believe what we’ve accomplished. We would have never EVER been able to do this without the help of my family who has been here almost every weekend since last year. The list was SO long when we moved in, and although there’s still a list, it seems much more manageable and seeing what we’ve accomplished in 12 months proves to me that this all will definitely get done in time.

Since November 2015 we’ve hosted dinners, holiday parties, bon fires, family days, pumpkin carving with friends, birthdays, and just sat the two of us on our front porch rockers and enjoyed the view. We’ve chased our puppies around the yard, drank beer with friends, walked the trashcan down the long gravel drive every Sunday, decorated for the seasons, and every once in a while stopped to marvel in what is ours. We viewed the house in October for the first time… the trees were unreal. I have been excited for October since the day we moved in, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I literally came outside every single day and watched the breeze blow and the leaves fall. It was so beautiful and such a reminder of why we chose to do this.

I’m proud today. We decided to take this on and we’ve committed. Some days were hard and I doubted our ability to get through it all, but we did it. We’ve transitioned into an entirely new lifestyle, Nick got a promotion and has moved into a new role at work, I’ve been busy as ever with wedding season, we lost a family member, we lost two pregnancies, we’ve struggled, but never given up. One thing we haven’t lost is hope. We’ve shared so many good times in this home as well and I know there are unlimited amazing times to come. Seeing my 86 year old grandparents sit on our front porch and tell us how proud and happy they are for us is a feeling I will never forget. Even though this has been hard, I am just so grateful that we have the opportunity to even do this. How lucky, at 27 years old we can buy our “dream property” and renovate it. I’d say we have it pretty good.

Thank you to my sweet husband Nick who has always been so willing to let me chase my dreams. In our 10 years together he never doubted my abilities to run a successful business, he would hop out of bed every Sunday and adventure with me and the dogs, he trusts my judgement in so many of our big life decisions, and he jumped wholeheartedly into this dream I’ve had for years. He’s spent countless hours on a tractor and with power tools in his hand for a year. Babe I love and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. As long as we’re together we can truly accomplish anything. Thank you.

So, next on the list!? THE KITCHEN! YAHOO! Our cabinets were delivered last week and I am just heart eye emoji’s all day every day. I had my wisdom teeth emergency removed last week so our original demo day got pushed, but hoping in the next few weeks we get to work on this thing! We have all the plans laid out, now its just a matter of making it happen!

Below I am sharing the “cliff notes” of the work we’ve done over the past year.

First up: Bathrooms! Total gut job as you can see from the before and after.

1 Year Home Anniversary 2pintopinterest

Our living room. When we do the kitchen reno we are taking out a wall and reconfiguring this room. Also putting down hardwood flooring so it will look much different in here after the new year!

1 Year Home Anniversary 3pintopinterest

Our mudroom and sunroom! We’ve replaced all doors, refinished the concrete flooring, repaired the ceiling, changed lighting, added house plants and decor!

1 Year Home Anniversary 4pintopinterest

Our bedroom! Whew!! Reframed the cased opening to the sitting room, painted all trim, hung wallpaper to cover the damaged walls, painted the walls, replaced doors, and put our cozy touch on it. Love this light and bright room. (And these photos of us in it by Ashley Wallace!)

1 Year Home Anniversary 5pintopinterest

1 Year Home Anniversary 9pintopinterest

And then there’s the property…

1 Year Home Anniversary 7pintopinterest

This list is LONG. We tore out a koi pond and hot tub, leveled the ground and ripped out flower beds, built steps down to our fire pit, got every vehicle we own stuck in the gas line trench (whoops), tore out a ridiculous amount of chain link fencing, built new split rail wood fencing, put in a new mailbox, painted our barn, mulched a lot of beds, trimmed a lot of trees, mowed a lot of grass, whacked a lot of weeds, blew a lot of leaves — and sat on that porch with our friends and family a whole bunch.

1 Year Home Anniversary 6pintopinterest

Last Winter I was sooooooo excited to see the property covered in snow and it just wouldn’t come! But finally in February we got a few inches and my great friend Claire of Rouxby Photography came out and took a few shots of us with the pups. Love these memories. I am hoping we have a snowy Winter this year!!

1 Year Home Anniversary 8pintopinterest

And then this October Ashley Wallace came out and took some more shots of us at the house. I am truly so glad to have these moments of our first year here captured. Whether iPhone or SLR camera, the documentation of this year has been so incredible to look back on. I’m excited to tell the story of our city life gone country for years to come. And proof of just how beautiful this place is in the Fall. 2017 is going to be busy no doubt. But I am looking forward to most of the renovations being done and more weekends spent enjoying all our hard work. In this month of Thankfulness we have so much to express gratitude for. <3

HAPPY 1 YEAR OF COUNTRY LIFE TO US! Babe, look at us. We got this WE SO GOT THIS:)

1 Year Home Anniversary 10pintopinterest

Send Usa Message Share onFacebook Pin topinterest

Sommre Joe Blog 1pintopinterest

This is Sommre & Joe. Two incredibly important people in our lives. I just love these humans!!

My job has led me to witness some pretty amazing moments in life. Following this couples journey, as a friend and as a photographer has been one of these amazing times. I was so excited and honored to witness and photograph the birth of their first son, Levi. If I didn’t shoot weddings, birth photography might be something I’d be super passionate about. I’ve now photographed two births this year (both of my best friends) and it has been the most unreal/beautiful/incredible thing I have ever seen. To watch a life appear in an instance, its like nothing I’ve ever seen before. And basically, women are EVERYTHING.

I’ve never blogged a maternity —-> then birth —-> then newborn in one post, but I thought it would be fun to see their full story unfold.

Grateful to be there for these times in my friends lives!


I have 20+ posts to share from shooting this year so at least all Winter long you will be dosed with some pretty to look at while its bitter and cold outside! Stay tuned because I am so excited to finally start getting some time to share these events with you!

Happy Monday!

Sommre Joe Blog 2pintopinterest

Sommre Joe Blog 3pintopinterest

Sommre Joe Blog 4pintopinterest

Sommre Joe Blog 5pintopinterest

And now their birth! Makes my cry again just looking at these images <3

Sommre Joe Blog 6pintopinterest

And a week later their newborn shoot. I LOVE YOU E FAMILY!!

Sommre Joe Blog 7pintopinterest

Sommre Joe Blog 8pintopinterest

Sommre Joe Blog 9pintopinterest


Send Usa Message Share onFacebook Pin topinterest

I get asked all the time, what should I wear for my family photos!?

WhatToWear 1pintopinterest

So, I have put together this blog of couples and families who I think I did it right — and will help inspire you for your photos this Fall! Read my little tips before and after images that describe why I think it works!

  • Coordinate your family’s outfits.  Find a common color and “weave” it through your family.  For example, let’s say you choose the color gray (awesome, neutral color).  An idea would be gray slacks for dad, mom wears gray scarf, son wearing gray polo, or choose a dress with small prints that have gray (or a similar shade) in them, etc.  Not every member of the family has to wear it, but you’re aiming to try to tie the look together, and color is one of the easiest ways to do it.
  • If you’re going for more subtle, softer colors, consider adding pops of color through your accessories (shoes, scarves, belts, hair accessories, etc.)
  • Consider allowing one person in your family to be the “wild card.”  Maybe that person is wearing a bold shade of green or a fun print.  If so, make sure that the other family members are complimenting that person and not competing with them.  In other words, you shouldn’t have other people also wear green or bold prints that might clash.
  • Layer up!  Fall is the perfect time of year to layer your clothes.  It adds texture, and also gives you more options of different looks without the hassle of changing outfits.
  • Wear clothes that you’re comfortable in.  Now isn’t the time to break in new shoes or wear anything tight or constricting.  If you’re not comfortable, it will show in the images. Pick clothing that accentuate your best feature or make you feel good.  It will show in all the best ways!

When choosing outfits for family photos, I always stick to a neutral palette first and then select one or two colors to feature. This year, I used cream, gray and navy and then added touches of rust and red for Fall. I love how they are laid back and comfortable yet stylish; it works in any location setting. Notice how there aren’t any logos or writing on any of the clothes? That helps to keep the photographs from being dated and the focus stays on the members of the family, where it belongs, instead of the clothes. These outfits would look amazing on the walls of any room and look good in any style home, not to mention they would make fantastic holiday cards.

WhatToWear 6pintopinterest

*Mama in the above photos is the “wild card.” LOVE IT. She has on a fun printed dress, and everyone else pulled colors from this. Also love the added in denim and fun skirts for the girls.

WhatToWear 2pintopinterest

Loooove both of these outfit choices from this cute couple! I’m a lover of plaid/flannel, it goes perfect for Fall! And she complimented his plaid with a neutral chunky sweater. (And her red lip is the perfect pop!) 2nd outfit, perfect complimenting colors. Navy and olive green are two of my favs for this season.

WhatToWear 9pintopinterest

How fun is this hat!? SO adorable! Cute ankle boots. Perfect soft colors.

WhatToWear 7pintopinterest

Love these outfits. Simple-Coordinating-Comfortable. And I’m a sucker for a cute hat! The little boy’s shirt is gray and tan, and Mom and Dad pulled from those colors. They look natural, and happy:)

WhatToWear 8pintopinterest

Again, cute and comfy! I cannot stress how important it is to wear clothes that feel like “you.” I want to capture you in your most natural and happiest self, and tight/restricting/extremely formal clothing would make that hard to do! Also love their blanket. Don’t be scared of a fun accessory!

WhatToWear 4pintopinterest

I love her scarf and hat! Such fun touches to their maternity session!

WhatToWear 3pintopinterest

This photo makes my heart sing! This is the cutest look for a Christmas card photo. Love how fun and Wintery their attire is. And their use of layers, amazing! The little girls look adorable in the pop of pink, but you can always keep it neutral too. Again, do what feels right for you and your children and their personalities!

WhatToWear 5pintopinterest

And lastly, I decided to throw in our Christmas card photo from last year:)This photo walk taken just 4 days after we moved into our new home. So much has changed since then!

But these clothes are very “us” and these two shots are probably two of my favorites of our family, ever. (My sister took these two photos in less than five minutes, sometimes thats all it takes!) They just feel so authentic to who we are and that makes me so happy. Scout and I pulled the red from Nick’s flannel. I love olive green:)Use of layers. Bring on the Fall boots. And I had to throw a Christmas hat in there!

As most of you know this is my absolute favorite time of year! October, November, December always bring me the happiest feelings – we are just loving watching the leaves change around our property. We are so excited to have everyone out for the Fall Micros in just a few weeks! Hope this post helped you plan your outfits for your upcoming session. We cannot wait to see you!


Send Usa Message Share onFacebook Pin topinterest

Pumpkins2016 1pintopinterest

A weekend off in October — That is bliss!! If you are a photographer in the midwest, you will agree that the busiest month of the year is October. I can’t wait for it (and slightly worry about it) every single year. Is it not the most beautiful time of year!? The sounds, the smells, the clothes, the food. I LOVE IT. I have 4 weddings this month – two of which I’ve already shot! And my next two October weddings are on Fridays, this means I get full weekends off this month! I cannot tell you how excited this makes me! I will have the opportunity to do the festivities I love so much with my friends and family. And I’ll tell you what, its good for my soul. I am getting better and better at work/life balance and it is absolutely paying off in every avenue of my life. I cannot believe I only have 5 weddings left this year!! It went by sooooooo fast. This Winter will be full of blog posts from all of the amazing couples and families I’ve worked with, so stay tuned!

Okay, enough about work – This is a personal post:)

Every year for the past several years our friends get together, hop in the back of our ’69 Ford, and go to Lynd Fruit Farm to pick apples and pumpkins. Then we spend the whole day together eating and carving and watching some football & halloween movies. I’d have to say it’s high up there on the list of things I really look forward to in life. These friendships, this time of year. It all just makes me so happy. We had everyone out to our house after the patch to eat chili and carve our pumpkins. The weather was incredible and the company even better. Nick and I are so lucky to have such amazing friends and family.

Our picking this year fell on the weekend of my best friends birthday – we had cake and blew out candles and ate all sorts of delicious desserts and hit a piñata… (I didn’t photograph too much of that hot mess, better to be forgotten! HA) Such good memories! We’ve worked so tirelessly on this house its just so so so nice to sit down and enjoy it. We are incredibly grateful.

Take a look into our weekend of Fall fun!! And yes that is my best friends husband with a pumpkin in the baby ergo:)

Pumpkins2016 2pintopinterest

Something we do every year is repeat this photo! The first year was 2013 – the photo below was taken (by me!) about 30 minutes before Nick and I got engaged. It was literally one of the best days of my life. I am so lucky we get to repeat it every year! Somehow we skipped 2014 (we were getting married, crazy time!) but the photos below are 2013, 2015, & 2016. I hope we can do this every year forever! Looks like we’re never selling our truck:)

Pumpkins2016 3pintopinterest

My best friend was pregnant with Kate in last years photo, and now Kate is here in this photo!! This year my sister is pregnant and next year her baby will be in the photo. Amazing to watch all our friends families grow. I love each and every one of them. We also may need to look into a bigger truck.

Here’s another series 2013, 2015 & 2016

Pumpkins2016 4pintopinterest

And now, some iPhone shots of the weekend! We rode in the bed of the truck on the country roads to the patch, it was a little cold and my hair a hot mess, but so much fun! Jude got out his costume a little early this year. And of course, the end result of our carving. I will look back on these memories with a very happy heart.

Pumpkins2016 5pintopinterest

If you’ve followed my blog this year, you know that Nick and I have had a hard year. Some days I feel strong and that I can do it all, and others I let the worry get the best of me and the sadness strikes hard. Today was our first baby’s due date. I’ve been dreading this day for awhile now. I thought we would most certainly be pregnant again by now and that time would help ease the pain. Last week, Nick and I lost our 2nd pregnancy. We have been on an emotional roller coaster for a year now. No one prepares you for this kind of heartache and pain. I broke down several times last week, why us? Feeling like this just isn’t fair. Going from angry to depressed to emotional to hopeful. It has been tiring. But this past beautiful weekend shows me we have a ton to be grateful for, and I am making it my number one goal to never forget that. I struggled with whether or not we should be so honest about our journey to baby. But in the end, I am an open book. I’ve always loved to share my life. Up until this year it was always incredible things. But the reality of life is, we all go through trying times and hard seasons, why shy away from that? I am not perfect, so far from actually. And I believe my honesty will pull me closer to those I was destined to work with (and be friends with). So thank you for allowing me to be my true and imperfect self. And for supporting and encouraging us on this journey. We appreciate everyone who has reached out, sent kind messages, words of encouragement and hope. We are doing our best at staying positive and believing that we will one day have the family we want so badly. My favorite time of year is a good distraction and we are going to fill our time doing things we love with the people we love. We love you all so much! <3


“After a lifetime of believing that the voices that mattered were ‘Out There,’ approving or disapproving of me, I’m learning to trust the voice within, the whisper of my own soul. And when you learn to listen to that voice, the screaming of the crowd matters less. “

-Shauna Niequist

Send Usa Message Share onFacebook Pin topinterest