See ya later, Roanoke!

The picture to the left? That's me... about 3 years ago (at the beach of course) wanting the chance to shoot families, babies, weddings, and of course, more concerts.... all wishful thinking. There was this moment in my life a few years ago where I knew that I could take the pictures that I had envisioned and seen on the internet, I just knew I could get up there with the pros but the first thing I needed to do was learn. There were so many things about my camera that I had no idea even existed. I didn't shoot in Manual until last year, and I didn't know how to properly edit my photos. All of these things take time and I always love to look back at my earlier work to see how much I have progressed and how hard I have worked to get where I am.  With that being said, I have a long road ahead of me. I get so so so stoked on a shot when it's on my camera and I get online the next day and see another photographer who just absolutely nailed their wedding and it kind of "puts me in my place" -- That naive girl from the picture above is still me today, but with better equipment and a little more "know-how". Photography is not something you can master. Even the most professional and seasoned vets will always have more to learn and something new to try and that's the beauty of this industry.... it doesn't have a 'peak'. 

Over the last 4 to 5 years that I've been actively pursuing photography, there has been one thing in common: Roanoke. My hometown is a geographically big town with a small town population. Sure, there are a TON of people who live in the area but the thing about Roanoke is that most people stick to the things that they know. For me, this meant that a lot of potential clients already had a photographer because they have worked with them before, knew them, etc. I am beyond honored and forever thankful for every single person who took a chance on me. 

It's not like I am leaving Roanoke forever and ever. I still have many weddings in the valley and my family will always be a good reason to go home, however, I felt that it was time to end my sessions there. It was a great launching pad for me and I am so appreciative but I the drive to and from is just exhausting on both me and my car. 

For all of you that have had a session with me in the past and especially those of you who had a session with me this past week... THANK YOU! 

.....so now what?

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me what I plan on doing now that I have graduated, I could probably afford to move to the Maldives. It's been a pretty popular question lately so here's my "plan."

The next two months are mine. I am taking off a few weeks to catch up on living life without having to worry about school, moving, or juggling either of the two with photography. I am taking a two week vacation to Florida in June to celebrate the end of college and just kind of hanging out, enjoying summer since the first time since I was 15.

For those of you who are NOT familiar with photography as a business, it's so so so much more than taking pictures. If you are reading this and assuming that "taking pictures" is my job, well then assume away, I wish that's all it was! It's a strenuous job, especially physically. If you have ever seen me chasing your toddlers or running around a wedding venue trying to find someone, you know what I mean. I would really really love to do this full time. I stay busy enough to and I can financially support myself but the truth is... I know there's more out there. There is more to me than a camera and at least for the foreseeable future, I would love to prove that. I graduated VCU with a degree and marketing and I am truly passionate about digital marketing and advertising so I hope to pursue a career along those lines. I believe that I have given myself an identity among my family and peers as a wedding and lifestyle photographer, so now I would like to keep building my resume and add another title to my name. Like I said, these next two months are "me time" and if I find a job, great! If not, I'm going to concentrate on my upcoming weddings! I have a tattoo on my side that reads "Stay Spontaneous" and that's exactly what I plan on doing.

Posted by Ashley Lester.