On Friday, I put my out of office on, deleted instagram for the weekend (as I try to do nearly every weekend), sat with myself (margarita in hand) and when the babes woke, had some much needed family time with my girl and hubs. Creating this space, honoring this space, being in this space feels cleansing, enabling me to come back and share with my whole self.
I mentioned last week, I have A LOT of new content to share and my goodness, over the next couple weeks I will be sharing some of the magical sessions I’ve been honored to document recently.
I am going to start right here, this very session, that of Kimberly and Joe’s maternity portraits. The location was chosen as it was so very special to their relationship, their story, even their engagement portraits were taken here. The date was picked with a safe boundary after the second wave hit and before she got too close to the end of her pregnancy. Typically I try to do maternity sessions around 32 weeks, but this mama here was close to 34 weeks. With the date being chosen months in advance, the weather, the temperature, the tides, it’s what the universe presents. This very day was during that insanely hot weekend where it was pushing 100 all weekend and the fires had really started to hit, all around us. The sky was dark, really orange and dark and quite eerie.
I have to be honest, it took me a while into our session before I built a relationship with the sky as it was so foreign to what I am used to shooting with. Once that relationship was built, I think I squealed (like I usually do when I really get excited) and moments such as these came to life.
It’s incredible as, to me, photographs have this magical way of stopping time - even just for a second. They are an imprint on the now, and will quickly become the past, a piece of us, a part of the puzzle that makes up these immensely beautiful, unique stories of our existence. For this, I fall in love with being a photographer each and every time I stand behind my lenses.
Thank you for the amazing honor of documenting your little lady in your womb.
I know you will hold these close.
Sometimes, getting to document, feels like I’m in a dream.
My couples, all the souls I document are magic.
There is just something so insanely special about the power of human connection, playing in nature, the sun showing itself off and my trusty little best friend, my camera.
It turns fleeting moments, small interactions, subtle connections into these tangible, vibrant, heart bursting, time capsules that serve as this immense reminder for days, for weeks, for months, for years, for decades, for centuries that life, life is truly what you make it.
That dreams can turn into realities.
That love is this all encompassing vibration.
That family is everything.
That life, really is so beautiful.
That for a yin, there is a yang.
That for light, there is darkness.
For growth, there is defeat.
For living wholly, fully, authentically, vulnerably, life, life is exactly as it is meant to be.
My friend, hold your dear ones close, love a little harder, deeper, more each and everyday, live knowing you can bring anything into light. You are incredible. Damn, are you absolutely incredible!
Thank you to Renee and Jordan - the insanely beautiful couple you see here for the opportunity, the honor of witnessing, documenting, being one of the story tellers for this part of your journey.
I’m in awe, everyday.
Oh, my heart.
Life truly brings about some of the greatest surprises.
Some hard. Others joyful.
Although a very heavy time for this very family, this meeting, this interaction, the subsequent time capsules have truly become such a strong impression in my heart!
I recently had the honor of being connected with this insanely strong and beautiful family through Make a Wish - Orange County!! Omar, this rad little soul you see here has been battling cancer since January of 2020. Just this past week his dream of getting to ride in a Lamborghini, a blue one that his dad drove - to be exact came true through @makeawishamerica!
The day after, I then had the honor, the privilege,
the blessing of documenting Omar and his whole family.
Their sweetness, was truly felt from the moment we said hello.
Ah! My heart!
After Omar and his family received the time capsules, his mom said,
"Thank you so much Ashley. I have been crying all day long. After seeing these picture my heart can't help it. You are an amazing photographer and we were truly blessed to have you capture these beautiful moments that we will forever cherish."
Thank you! Thank you for this incredible honor.
I am forever grateful for this opportunity, this experience, this connection!
It seems all too odd to say that I documented my last full wedding of 2020 at the end of July.
This has never happened before. Even when preparing fro the arrival of my daughter, I did take three months off during the summer, but came back to nearly a dozen weddings.
This, this very wedding was supposed to be one of twelve and oh my heart, was it one of two that moved forward in 2020. You see friends, COVID is nothing knew, its effects are ever lasting. I documented two, refunded two as they were fully cancelled and the remaining eight have been postponed to 2021. This, this makes my heart beyond sad for oh so many reasons. At the forefront, these couples not getting to celebrate their love with their favorite people on this planet and me, not getting to be the one in the very fortunate, intimate seat of taking it all in and documenting it to the absolute best of my ability.
Although so very hard for me and I can only imagine so deeply difficult for the couples involved, it is not why we are here. This, oh this wedding, that of Brittney and Nick's is why we are here. The time capsules, they really do speak for themselves. The wedding, was beyond stunning. Their energy, so joyful, so present, so calm, so incredibly meant to be. Their families, the sweetest. The weather, just right. The sunset, showing itself off. The timeline, perfectly smooth. The connection, oh was the connection so beautifully felt by all those who experienced this very day.
After COVID hit, their original venue, on the beach, closed and wasn't able to re-open to host their wedding. Luckily, their sister venue, the incredible Franciscan Gardens was and accommodated them perfectly. One minor detail, it was away from the beach. After the change, we connected again and the importance of the beach was fully understood. We reworked the timeline to ensure we could jump in the car and head to the beach for sunset portraits. This, this was my favorite part of the day.
We hurried to the car, made a quick u-turn from the originally planned place as the sun had already dropped behind the mountain and found ourselves, in the perfect spot, just in time to play with the dancing light. From their engagement session and documenting all day, these two just knew what to do. So lovingly. So gracefully. So fully. As we finished their romantic portraits and started heading back to the car, the entire, I mean the entire beach started screaming and cheering for them. The smiles, oh the smiles on their faces could have truly powered a whole state.
My friends, it has been such an honor documenting this journey in your lives.
I am humbled with your love, by your ease, by your connection.
After sharing their full gallery (nearly 1500 images),
I've received this email, for which I will forever hold it close :
"We have spent many special hours over the past few days enjoying these with our families and friends. My goodness you are INCREDIBLE!!! The way you captured our excitement and feeling of the day as a whole is absolutely amazing. We are very lucky. It is going to be SO difficult to decide what we want to put up in our home! I can't say thank you enough for sticking with us on that crazy journey. There were so many moments over the last 6 months where I couldn't even imagine what our day would look like but going through these validates even more that we really did get our perfect day. Nick and I both loved having your magical eye (and Rachels!) on us all day long. Your passion for what you do is unmistakable. It showed in how you gave us our space for our private moments but then totally ran the show with our families. THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!"
Coordination: Pop the Champagne
Venue : Franciscan Gardens
First Look Venue : Los Rios District in San Juan Capistrano
Florals : Flowers by Kendra
Photography : Ashley Strong Photography
2nd shooter : Rachael Smith Photography
DJ : Brandon Moshenkoo
Hair and Makeup : Beauty and the Beach OC
Live Steam : Second Song
Several years, this amazing soul - Marcy Browe of Marcy Browe Photography and I were connected through a facebook group called Tuesday's Together. I wanted to do a trade with another photographer for portraits, as did she, we connected and immediately started making magic.
Back in 2017, it was the first time I had really had a photo shoot of myself. She, made it feel so effortless, the results - exactly what I wanted. Every year since then, we do this very thing. She documents me, I document her. Every year, the photo shoots become that much more special as they're more intentional, more empowering, more joyful, more of us really bringing out the best in one another. You see, we've become friends, really beautiful friends.
What is so special about this friendship is our shared passion. Although to some, this could be seen as a threat, to us, oh to us - it's so empowering, nourishing, inspiring. For each of us to share and expand our craft with one another, it just fuels our souls. We left this last photo shoot, the one you see here, with adrenaline running through our body and the biggest smiles on our faces. We genuinely played and genuinely had the greatest time!
After sending her gallery, she sent me a message, "Holy crap, you're my hero. I LOVE every photo you sent. How did you o that seemingly so effortlessly? I'm in awe. I appreciate you so much!! You brought my vision to life and made it look EASY. You're talent and a badass friend. Thank you!!!"
Marcy, thank you! Thank you for sharing your talent, your love, your journey and your inspiration. I am honored to document it each and every year! And friend, as you dive into these portraits, you can witness the variety of styled we did all in three hours. The more preparation and intention into your session, the greater the results!
This past week, I had five sessions with the most amazing humans of which one was this very session. Ahhhh! My brother, his beautiful wife and their son got to celebrate and share the expanding of their family as they’re welcoming not one, but TWO baby girls in February of next year!
To say I am excited, is an understatement!
It truly has been such an honor being witness to the growing of their family and getting to raise my daughter alongside them. Family gatherings and holidays are definitely taking on new meanings - if and when they can resume as normal!
The Brunner’s, I am beyond excited for the growing of your family! Thank you for another honor of getting to document your expansive life.
I love you so much!
Oh friend, I had the honor of documenting in a super rad office space in La Jolla (WeWork) and then out in a hidden gem of trees just along the coastline for a company I've been blessed to watch grow, Well-Traveled Wealth, a financial planning firm!
A few years ago, myself and Yesenia and Todd, the two owners headed out to Joshua Tree for their first ever business portraits as they were launching their own company! Check them out here.
Here we are, just two years later and not only did we document them, but we also documented two new members as their team continues to expand! After delivering the gallery, Yesenia called me ecstatic in how these portraits turned out as they had a very specific vision! My heart truly smiled as it feels like such a blessing, such an honor to still bring to life moments such as these, especially during such trying, uncertain times!
Ah, thank you so much for the honor of bringing these to life!
And to the Well - Traveled Wealth team, you are truly such an inspiration!
Learn more about Well-Traveled Wealth, a financial planning firm here!
I am usually a woman with words, so many words.
As I’ve shared before and understand all too well, there are moments,
moments where words, words have no place.
This right here, feels like that place, that time.
These time capsules.
I shot my first full blown wedding on July 4th and it truly was a dream!
I was reminded, every moment of the day, mask and all, how much I truly love what I do - getting to document couples, on their wedding day, in all their bliss, in all their love. It is, one of the greatest joys.
Jamie and chad - your laughter is contagious.
Thank you for the honor, thank you for the trust.
VENDOR LOVE :
Wedding Coordination: @KlinkEvents
First Look Location : Mission San Juan Capistrano
Golden Hour Location : Los Rios Historical District
Rentals & Lounge Furniture: @sundrop_vintage
Live Artist: @yellowandlace
2020 Holdiay Mini Sessions are HERE!
As with this sensitive, unprecedented time, I gratefully have been able to continue documenting. I wear a mask, keep my distance as much as possible, sanitize myself and all my equipment and remain extremely mindful in supporting everyone’s preferences when handling COVID. It’s my commitment to continue to bring to life these candid, loving, real, sacred moments, safely.
This wouldn’t be possible without you, so I thank you.
All locations are outside where I can safely, authentically and fully document you and your loved ones more than six feet apart. Although so hard for me to do, I refrain from hugs and give air hugs!
EACH SESSION INCLUDES :
- 1 PHOTOGRAPHER
- 1 LOCATION
- 3O MINUTES
- RIGHTS TO 30 HIGH RESOLUTION EDITED IMAGES for $325
TO BOOK, JUST EMIAL ME AT HELLO@ASHLEYSTRONGPHOTOGRAPHY.COM!
P.S. Click on the photo to take you to a blog post to witness more of that very location!
Location #1 :