Hey, you...I'm Ashley.
I've spent a lot of my 32-years trying to figure out what I should be doing. How I should dress...how I should think...how I should parent...how I should photograph. Let me tell you, it's exhausting to dedicate time to being a should person! (Is that a thing? It should be!) Finally, I've stopped thinking about the shoulds so much. Maybe it was the process of birthing two humans and all the humility that came with it, but the question of "Who should Ashley Manley be?" is one I simply don't have time to dwell on or worry about anymore. Life is too short. I've accepted my weirdness, my flaws, and the mistakes of my story. I move forward knowing I will continue to mess up, make mistakes, be weird, and change my mind, but I've surrounded myself with people that love me for me. That don't think of me in terms of who I should be, just who I am.
So why shoot families the way that I do? Because, it's okay to be weird, it's okay to be messy and flawed, and most importantly, to give a big middle finger to the distracting idea of what we should be and just be who we are. Your best, whether it's weird, quirky, tired, clueless, and maybe just a little flawed, is just what the people that love us need. As a mom, I've felt the looks of other moms when I do something they don't approve of. I've been at the annoying end of unwanted criticism. I've tried and failed, as we all have, but I really believe deep down, my best is usually good enough for the people that matter.
Maybe you are reading this and thinking, "I'm totally normal, I can't relate to any of this!" but maybe you are reading this and letting one long breath out, feeling a little better knowing you're awesome the way that you are. If that's you, know that I'm giving you a big virtual hug around your weird and wonderful neck and high-fiving the hell out of you.
I live on a chaotic farm in Central Illinois.
The color turquoise, big windows, and homemade details make me melt.
I'm from Florida but loathe that humidity when I think about it.
The beach and mountains are my happy places.
Coffee, wine, camping, hiking, birdwatching, watercolors, the first snow, the first swim, the first fall leaves, the first tulip...these are a few of my favorite things. (please sing that last line)
We are homeschooling the kids for the early years of their education...partly because I want more time withe the kids and partly because I'm insane.
I was a school teacher (Kindergarten then high school social studies) for 8 years before staying home with the wildlings.
I shoot digital with a Fuji X-T2 and 23mm 1.4 lens and 35mm film with a Canon EOS 2000...I don't know if they are the best or the worst, and frankly don't care much.