We had the good fortune of connecting with Ash Dunn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ash, what inspires you?
I am inspired by the world around me. The wind rustling through aspen trees. The stillness of the mountains. Cool air above timberline. Animals inspire me in ways of the soul. Horses kind eyes and willingness to trust. Playful dogs, blissfully happy around someone they love. Even the smallest animals brighten my life. People inspire me in the ways of moments and memories. When someone sees a photo of themselves that they absolutely love. Helping a person let their guard down and be their authentic self. The vulnerability in front of the lens.
What keeps me going when it is hard are my friends and my partner. They really are my family. Each and every one of them inspire me to be a better version of myself. I’ve met them all through different stages and hardships during my life. Yet they continue to uplift me.
My horses both fill my soul. Misty has been with me the longest, and together we have faced so many challenges. Struggles with mental health and physical challenges with Misty. She inspires me to keep going. Dixie may be 29, but she still knows how to have fun and live every moment as it comes. She inspires me to have fun and be my authentic self.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art comes in many forms, as I find beauty in everything. I have taken photos of landscapes, small flowers. Animals of the small and large variety. Fast-paced drill team, and beautiful equine/person partnerships. Lovely portraits of beautiful people in all different places. I love the versatility I have gained from trying to figure out what I like.
I just bought my second DSLR, a huge upgrade. I’ve also invested in several more lenses to versify my collection, which has been exciting! I have lots of unseen photos from the past and other projects I’ve worked on recently! I dabble in mirror-less cameras and film photography, with some hidden interest in videography. I am proud of my hard work since my professional career started in 2018. I’ve come a long way and it’s visible on my website and Instagram, and portfolio.
I got here professionally from a lot of hard work, and behind-the-scenes grinds. A lot of trial and error. Self taught is how I’ve always been, as I didn’t have the ability to learn any other way until I got older and became financially responsible for myself. Along with many gracious friends and fellow Westernaires who have given me opportunities to further my learning.
It hasn’t been all easy. Starting out with a Nokia cellphone and free online tools for editing, working my way up to my first DLSR and more expensive programs. Photography is an expensive hobby/profession to get into if you’re starting out with very little. Experience and knowledge can be expensive too.
In 2019 the older computer I was using for my main-hub finally died. Later my external hard drive, my last lifeline, fried. I lost tens of thousands of photos. I felt crushed. Even after retrieving less than half of the number of photos I had previously, I felt like I was starting over. Everything was a mess, many surviving files corrupted or unusable. Everything I had built up over a glowing year or so of professional photography was destroyed, or so it felt like. COVID happened the following year, so I honestly gave up with photography, and left my camera untouched for many months.
I want others to know that it is possible to work with what you have, while making progress towards getting something better. I believe this goes for your camera itself, equipment, programs, and even knowledge. Practice makes improvement, and improvement leads to greater things. Starting out from cellphones, moving to a single lens point-and-shoot, up to my first DSLR. A 2010 computer, to my own laptop and iPad, and extra external drives so I never have a mass loss again. It hasn’t been fast improvement, but slowly I have gotten to a point where I am happy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Visiting places like Pikes Peak, Mount Evans, and hidden gems all throughout the state is a must! My vote for best places I’ve been to in my life so far is Mosquito Pass near Leadville, Colorado. The town of Crystal, with the infamous Crystal Mill. Estes Park is a place of fond Westernaires memories.
Pietra’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant in Wheat Ridge, Colorado is my favorite place for pizza, as I grew up going there my whole life.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My love of photography has been handed down from my grandpa, to my dad, to me. My grandpa using film cameras and very new (at the time) video recorders. My dad using digital cameras and camcorders to film every adventure, big and small. Even my ancestors have posed for a photograph, one with horses at his side.
Westernaires, a youth organization out of Golden, Colorado, has taught me a lot about horses, and even more about life. If it weren’t for Westernaires I don’t think I would have ever been able to ride a horse, at least in my youth. Being able to spend $10 a week to spend time with a horse, ride with a group of like-minded individuals, and become a part of something, is one thing I will never forget. The people and animals I have met over my 12+ years, and growing, involved in the organization have been insurmountable in forming me as a person. I learned how to work hard and stay committed to something. I learned lessons of teamwork, responsibility, and loyalty. Attention to detail, and communication. How to work with a thousand pound animal, and be their friend. Among many other things.
My own horses have taken the lessons I learned from Westernaires and continued to grow them. With Misty I learned other ways to communicate with horses, especially the unique, different ones. How to work with the ones who are greener than others. How to be gentle, but firm. Listen to the unspoken words she speaks to me. Dixie has taught me to be assertive. How not to get walked on. When to have fun. Most importantly, how to open up. She was a distant horse when we first met. She’s learned to open up again, and in doing so has allowed me to do the same.
Other: Tik Tok: https://email@example.com
Timberline Pass Photography, LC Photography (Laura Carter)