Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashlee Burgess.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have had a passion for all things creative for as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved writing short stories, playing piano, and painting. When I was ten years old, I got my first camera and a whole new world of expression was opened up for me. I loved photographing landscapes, flowers, and animals. With the wonder of a child, I thought of photos as magical objects that existed somewhere between fantasy and reality. I was always extremely fascinated by the idea of owning a memory forever. My love for the artistic world grew more every year. By my senior year of high school, I was taking four art classes a day and knew that my creative passion had to be fulfilled.
I married my high school sweetheart in 2013 and he joined the Army. In 2014, we were posted at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, and I began my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at Columbus State University. The summer before I began my college degree, my husband gave me a DSLR camera for my birthday. My love for photography was renewed, and I spent that summer photographing the big changes in my friend’s lives, from maternity to engagement photos. The photos were shared on social media, and the feedback and outreach that I received was so overwhelming. I began to book more and more sessions through word of mouth. I poured myself not only into the creative side of photography, but also into learning how to turn my hobby into a business. I had just turned 19 years old when I officially opened Ashlee Burgess Photography.
For the next three and a half years, I was a full time college student Monday through Friday, and a wedding and portrait photographer on the weekends. I would have an hour and a half break for lunch, and it was usually spent catching up on editing sessions from the weekend. What began as capturing special moments for friends and people I had gone to high school with, slowly turned into meeting completely new people and going new places. I managed my own books and schedule, taught myself how to market and build my own website, and built my business from the ground up, while keeping a 3.8 GPA and managing a more-than full course load to graduate a semester early.
I graduated from CSU with my BFA, with a focus in Photography, in December of 2017, and I knew that it was time to truly give my all to my business. It had blossomed more than I ever could have hoped for, just as a part-time job. Now 2018 will be my first year as a full-time wedding and portrait photographer, and I couldn’t be more excited. I have worked with over 200 individuals, couples, and families in the past three and a half years to capture priceless moments in their lives. I’m looking forward to many more years behind the camera, giving people hard copy memories of the beautiful lives they live.
Has it been a smooth road?
I am tempted to say that it has been a smooth road, but a part of me knows better. I work diligently on the front end of projects, so things that have been hard-earned often feel as though they came easily. I have been humbled by the blessings and acknowledgements that I have received along the way, because I keep my nose to the ground and often forget to step back and look at the bigger picture.
One of the biggest challenges of this journey has been learning balance. Becoming a wife at eighteen, moving across the state from friends and family to be with my husband when he joined the Army, being a full time college student, taking care of a home, going back home to visit our family multiple times a month on weekends, and opening a business at nineteen was a handful. I always want to give one hundred and ten percent to everything that I do, so figuring out where to put my energy and when to rest, even with a long to-do list, is something that I am still learning.
Throughout my teenage years, I suffered from anxiety. Going to the grocery store when I first turned eighteen and moved out on my own was an overwhelming task for me. The prospect of a busy day or a simple social interaction often caused undue stress. Opening and running this business changed everything for me, though. I learned and coped with so much by meeting new people and learning how to balance such an overwhelming schedule.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a wedding and portrait photographer. I have photographed everything from newborns and children, to high school seniors, to beautiful families, but my heart is most drawn to people in love. I love to hear how couples met, I tear up at every wedding I shoot, and my heart literally pounds when I photograph surprise proposals, which are my all-time favorite type of session. I have a very interactive approach to photographing all types of sessions. I believe that smiling and saying “cheese!” to the camera is outdated. I encourage couples to interact with each other, play games, and have fun. Nothing melts my heart more than when I ask a couple to look into each other’s eyes, and say their favorite thing about one another. In moments like those, I feel that I am capturing the essence of their love. To me, that is what photography is about. Life is short and it is so worth documenting those special moments.
In a market saturated with photographers, I offer a unique perspective. With formal training and a degree in photography, plus a life-long creative passion, I see both sides of the coin. In today’s world, anyone can take a beautiful photograph with the push of a button on their phone. However, to be experienced, educated, and to have a deep desire to create something ever-lasting out of a fleeting moment is what makes a photographer. Though it isn’t a requirement for this profession, I am proud to have a degree and the experience and knowledge that comes with it to back up my work.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel that Atlanta and the surrounding area is a wonderful place for any entrepreneur, including photographers! Being centrally located in the state, plus a diverse population with different styles and tastes, allows every photographer to find their niche. Anyone starting out should work with as many people and take on as many different kind of shoots as possible. You have to try a little bit of everything to know where your heart is, and Atlanta is a wonderful place to do just that.
- Weddings begin at $800
- Couples sessions begin at $100
- Website: www.ashleeburgessphotography.com
- Phone: 6788228367
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleeburgessphotography/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleeburgessphotography/