As a songwriter, I think of my music as Polaroid snapshots of my mental/emotional/philosophical state of mind at any given moment.
Some writers write “story songs” about characters…think Billy Joel’s Brenda and Eddie from Scenes from an Italian Restaurant or Mellencamp’s Jack and Diane.
That’s not really the case with me. For better or worse, I write about myself. What can I say? I’m very self-involved, haha.
But really, for me, songs are like photographs in that they capture a moment and from a certain perspective, those moments become permanent, locked in time.
So with that in mind, I have the great pleasure of bringing you all a conversation with the talented Ashley Newman of Ashley Newman Photography. She recently relocated to Tuscaloosa from Houston and I had the chance to catch up with her to discuss everything from how things are going in her new Metropolis to what got her started in photography and what the future holds.
Jason – What got you into photography? When did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
Ashley – I started photography as a teen. I had always been interested in preserving memories and photography just felt natural. Everyone has a story to tell and I believe photography is a special medium that can captur
e those moments in time. In 2005, my husband and I were married. We were on a budget and we hired a photographer that we thought would give us the best deal financially…when we got our images back we were sorely disappointed. It wasn’t the vision I had of my special day and my images were such poor quality I couldn’t order gift prints or pictures for my home. I felt robbed of a moment that I would never get back, but I learned a valuable lesson- and more importantly I began to see photography in a different light. When my husband and I had our first child, that’s when I committed to using the skills I had learned in college to take better photos. My children’s growth wasn’t something I was going to miss out on because of bad photography or a lack of knowledge. I officially launched my business in 2009 and have loved the growth process and working with families along the way. Once we had our third child, I decided it was time to go full-time with my business and stay home with my family. I have loved every moment of the memories I have been able to capture for myself and my clients since I first made the comittement.
Jason – I feel a lot like that with my songwriting. I had always written, essays, poetry (yeah I was that guy) all in trying to express my “story” as you put it and I always gravitated towards music because it felt like such a special means of expression. Once I got my first guitar, I never looked back. I got into recording much in the same way you did in that I was frustrated with the quality of recordings I was getting from friends and studios charged so much for what I perceived to be so little.
Jason – What do you think sums up your professional outlook on photography?
Ashley – My motto is “Let’s tell a story together” and I really love that images can do that. When I am at a session I try to capture all the details- from smiles and tickles, to sweet baby fingers and even clothing details. I believe that art tells a story about who we are, and pictures capture special moments in time. I know that when you are looking for a photographer, you are trusting another person with your family memories. As a mother myself, I know your story is important. I work hard to make sure your session is stress-free and captures this season with your special, unique family. So let’s tell a story together! I am committed to authentically capturing your family and the city of Tuscaloosa. I want to tell your story, only the one that you can share, and I want to be the one to share that for years to come as we grow and change together.
Jason – I really relate to this and I love how you frame things in terms of telling a story together. I think when someone walks into a recording or writing session it’s very similar to what you describe here. It’s a matter of telling a story about who we are, where we are, what we feel and, like pictures, music can capture that moment. When you’re looking for a studio or for someone to help you with your music, you are definitely trusting them with an incredibly significant part of your life and soul.
So how’s Tuscaloosa treating you? What’s been the biggest change?
Ashley – Honestly, it has been the slower pace of life…but I don’t view it as a bad thing. We were ready for the change and I think we needed to slow down. We feel at ease here and comfortable with our new normal. It feels like home. Being from Texas, this hasn’t been a huge change for us. It’s being without connection and family that has been the most difficult transition. I am quickly finding that home town Tuscaloosa is friendly and inviting. I’ve already begun to get plugged into the community and it feels more and more like our home town every day. My biggest goal would be to meet new families and make new friends. Business-wise, I want to just shoot. I want the opportunity to explore the city more, to work with local families and to get out with my photography. I want to do something outside of me and outside of being a mom, while blessing other families.
Jason – Musicians can always rattle off a million names when it comes to inspiration or what their music sounds like…”it’s like Radiohead but if Chuck D were producing it crossed Shoegaze and a touch of skater music.” Hahaha What about you? Who are your influences?
Ashley – It’s difficult to list just one, but classically speaking I enjoy the work of Man Ray and Sally Mann. In the 21st century, I adore the work of Erin Witowski, and Rachael Vanovan.
Jason – OK, million dollar question – Beatles or Stones?
Ashley – Stones…all the way.
Jason – Seriously? You’re just messing with me now…
Ashley – no. I don’t like the Beatles…maybe it’s because I was raised on the Rolling Stones but that’s just how it is.
Jason – you know we can’t be friends anymore right?
Ashley – Your loss.
Jason – I’m not so sure anymore. ;-p
Ashley Newman can be reached at her website – www.ashleynewmanphotography.com
or and you can follow her fascinating and tender blog at https://barryandashley.wordpress.com/