Ashley Ray knew she wanted to become a photographer ever since the fifth grade. What began as a hobby soon developed into a business investment. Ashley now uses her love for photography to capture people’s stories and genuine emotions.
“Taking photos of people is what sparks my creativity,” Ashley said. “People are so photogenic and don’t even know it; especially two people in love. It is the richest emotion they can naturally express and the most powerful emotion they give to the other. I love being able to freeze those moments for them. Apart from the ring and their spouse, photographs are the only thing a couple can hold onto forever.”
Ray, a 2011 graphic design graduate from Elida, Ohio, started her own business, Ashley Ray Photography, because many of her friends and family asked her to take pictures all the time.
“I never thought I’d actually be able to turn my dream job into reality,” she said.
Ashley loves to take advantage of natural lighting and capturing people in their everyday surroundings. She eventually hopes to move south and establish a larger clientele.
“I’ve always had a passion to find the true heart of a person,” Ashley said. “Each shoot is beautifully different because each person is beautifully unique. Their photos are genuine to them and the people they get to share them with.”
The graphic design projects assigned to Ashley during her school years challenged her to work independently, and now she takes that strong work ethic into her own business.
“I wanted to expand my ability to think more creatively, so I took an independent study my sophomore year in San Francisco, Calif. My aim was to concentrate on capturing anything and everything, but people,” she said. “It opened my eyes to see things from different perspectives and angles, capturing the little details I was missing before.”
Through an internship experience at Central Christian Church in Huntington, Ind., in 2010, Ashley also gained marketing skills developing the church’s new logo as well as taking photographs of church events.
Besides doing internships and finishing homework, Ashley spent time with her friends hanging out at local coffee shops and investing in the Huntington community during her undergrad years.
“I loved having those one-on-one conversations with people,” she said. “I really got to learn more about that person as well as myself. Some of my closest friends are from Huntington.”
Not only did Ashley develop close friendships with some of her peers, she also got to know her professors and felt inspired to incorporate what they taught her in the classroom into her work as an artist.
“(My professors) enlightened new ways of approaching art and helped me develop the philosophy behind my artwork,” she said.
The Christ-centered education also impacted her time at HU. She appreciated how the university encouraged students to use their spiritual gifts to make a difference and to get involved with people in the community. Ashley used her gifts and made an impact for Christ when she traveled to Biloxi, Miss., and Lakeland, Fla., to help with the cleaning efforts after Hurricane Katrina and working with Habitat for Humanity, respectively.
“My faith became my own when I put myself out there and started getting involved,” she said.
To view Ashley’s work, visit her website at www.ashleyrayphoto.com.
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