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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:)

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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:)

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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

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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.

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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

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THIS WEDDING. Ah!

I had been looking forward to Alex and Nate’s wedding all year. Their ski lodge engagement was nothing short of perfect, so I knew their wedding would be something incredible! It was also my first time shooting at The Grand Barn at the Mohicans, and let me tell you… it did not disappoint.

Alex’s dress was so timeless, the decor adorable, flowers to die for… This one really did it for me:)And we all know how I love a good barn wedding!

Alex and Nate are truly so sweet together. I just fell in love with them and their family. Ashley Wallace and I both felt like we were part of the family right away! The food was AMAZING. I just can’t say enough good things about this day.

Capturing this love was such an honor and reminds me why I do what I do!!

Congrats again Alex and Nate! Hoping you are in MARRIED BLISS!!

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This is my best friend and her family!! I have loved following their journey through life and photographing all of the amazing times that have come their way. This session was so much fun to shoot. We traveled to a local park and then Straders Garden Center, which was my favorite part!

These images are near and dear to my heart. Love you, Schreiber’s!

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It’s Fall. It is officially my favorite time of year. I’ve always known this, but this years heat wave of a Summer showed me more than ever that I’m just a cold weather girl. I don’t mind the cold. Actually, it feels wildly refreshing to me. I love bundling up, scarves hats and boots. And of course any reason to wear flannel. I love breathing the crisp air. My body has been yearning for the slowness that the cold brings. I am counting down the days until we light our first indoor fire of the season. October is never a month I have much time to do anything other than work, but I am going to do my best to carve out time for a little life in there as well.

It’s safe to say for the past seven years of my life Summer’s have been a whirlwind. The work-mode hustle is in full-swing every year starting about the middle of April and the calmness doesn’t strike until late November or sometimes even after Christmas. When I look back at my posts from this year I realized I’ve said “2016 has taught us a lot…” in every post, and I feel this urge to say it again. I read a book this month called “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. Wondering if she’s actually me. Her thoughts, her people pleasing ways, her hustle mentality, her workaholic ways, her anxious personality, and her frantic way of living all hits too close to home for me. When you love your work, it’s so easy to say yes to. When someone inquires for my services I’m still overwhelmed with flattery, I love to provide my clients and friends and family with forever memories. This year my job has led me to witness and photograph two births. I’ve never seen something so amazing and powerful happen right before my eyes. My weekends are full of remarkable loves and couples that put all their trust in me to tell their story. Saying what I do is incredible is an absolute understatement.

 “Loving one’s work is a gift. And loving one’s work makes it really easy to neglect other parts of life.”

But, 2017 – I want you to look a little different. I want you to lead me to more amazing couples and families and grant me the opportunity to work for amazing people, but I always want you to lead me to enjoying more of these moments in my own life.

“The greatest tragedy of human existence is not to live in time, in both senses of the word.”

Nick and I have worked so hard at building this beautiful life and I’m not sure we’re even living it. We are so often passing ships, working opposite schedules, craving relaxing family time, and only finding an hour here and there together. When someone asks how I am, the first words out of my mouth are always “we’re busy, doing great just super busy.” When did busy become the only thing I do? I’m not sure there’s a day on my calendar with absolutely no responsibilities until December. We’re not meant to be so structured. I can tell you, my soul is ready to be free. Taking time to read this book was step one, implementing what I learned is step two.

“People, individual people, matter more to me than ever. I’m giving more focused time to the people I love than I ever have: eye to eye, uninterrupted, deeply connected.”

I wish I could just double the time involved in each month. This way I could have time to photograph everything and everyone and still have free time to be present in my own life. But unfortunately, I can’t do that. So working less, putting myself and my health and my family first will have to do.

“If you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it.”

As so many of you know, Ashley Wallace works full time for Ashley West Photography now!! We are SO lucky to have her heart and talent on board. So many of you will be meeting her this Fall as she is taking on tons of portrait work from returning and new clients. Ash has been such an amazing addition to the business, her talent and spirit are things I will not take for granted. And she makes it so much easier to help me balance how I use my “yeses” and “no’s”:)

I’m so thankful for two weekends off from weddings in September where I have had the freedom to wander aimlessly, get lost in time, and not worry about work. I am thankful for apples and baking, pumpkin everything, the cooler air that is almost upon us. I’m thankful for bonfires and s’mores, mums and pies, & true friendship. I’m thankful that I can complain about renovating my home because that means we were fortunate enough to take on this dream. I’m thankful for good food, my dogs who are always happy, family that loves me in my worst of times, and a husband that’s allergic to apples but would never miss a picking season because he knows how much I love it.

I am hoping along with blogging weddings (oh my gosh, so behind!) I can keep up on blogging my personal journey with you all. I can’t be the only one that relates to a desire to live more present in life… And if just one someone reads this and feels inspired to pick up the book that just may have changed my life for the better, then this post was worth writing.

Here’s our life over the past few months in iPhone photos. Some housework, some work-work, some Savannah vacation photos, our 2nd anniversary, and of course our puppies.

Your October challenge, say no to something that drains you and yes to something that makes your heart happy. If you do it just once maybe you could start a good habit:)

 

XOX – Ashley West

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