We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashlee Burke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashlee, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
I believe that one of the biggest misconceptions many people have about photography these days is that it’s just ‘clicking a button’. Cell phones have put a camera (and editing software) in so many more people’s hands, allowing them to take really great photos. However, I have seen this skew people’s perceptions about what truly goes into creating a beautiful image. Yes, snapping the shot is an important step, but it isn’t the only step. Similarly, photography is not just editing either. In my opinion, those who are true professionals are the ones who effortlessly bridge the two. What I believe many fail to recognize is just how much time and effort goes into the process. In my business, family and lifestyle photography, there are three important things that happen behind the scene that make a huge difference in the final product delivered. First, there is a lot of time spent on the front-end working with my clients to get to know them and understand their hopes and dreams for their session. This serves 2 objectives, one to build excitement but also connection ahead of time so they feel more comfortable with me and in front of my camera. Second, I take 4x the number of photos than what is edited. Getting images that convey emotion and the truly authentic connections of a family don’t happen in one frame. Lastly, is editing. This is when I get to “paint your story” and enhance the beautiful moments that unfolded during your session. Curating a gallery of artfully edited images can take upwards of 4-5x the duration of the shoot. While the process that takes a great deal of time, I enjoy being creative during every step of the process. This is what allows me to differentiate myself as a photographer and continue to learn and grow.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a lifestyle photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. I adore taking pictures, especially of families. I know photos can be stressful. I use to dread family photos as a little girl. This is the last thing I want for my clients and their children. I want clients to walk away feeling energized, not depleted. I want the session to be memorable because of the joy and love felt during those precious moments of connection. I feel one of the gifts I bring to a session is a sense of playfulness and ease. During a family session their are lots of snuggles, exploration of our location and we play games. Yep…We play games which is how I get by in from my smallest clients, the kids. I have found that incooperating a playful spirit into a session lends itself to more laughter, connection and those beautiful in-between moments that truly show the essence of your family. So how did I get here? I never dreamt in a million years of being a photographer. As a child I always wanted to become a teacher and that’s exactly what I did. I was a special education teacher for almost a decade before I picked up my camera. The story of how I found my camera isn’t far off from how many photographers today found their love for the art. For my first Mother’s day after my son, Sadler was born, my husband gave me the gift of a photo class with two local photographers called Photocamp. The class was intended to help moms learn to use their DSLR camera. During the chaotic and exhausting newborn stage, It felt so good have this artistic outlet. I started taking my camera with me everywhere. It became more than just a way to document precious moments with my son. The way I saw the world, how light could frame an image, how momentary emotion could be distilled and captured … it made the daily grind feel different and exciting. I truly fell in love with photography when I realized the power that is held within a photograph. As with any new endeavor, there are lessons to be learned along the way. In the beginning, my biggest lesson was navagating the comparison game we all play with ourselves. I struggles with comparing myself to my colleagues and questioning my developing style. However, I soon realized was there is space for every one of us. Each of us has a different eye, varied editing styles and a unique personal story that informs our art. By avoiding the pitfalls of comparison, I began to carve out my own niche and understand the unique value that I could offer my clients. As your photographer, I strive to showcase the underlying essence of your family. I want to harness the spirit and the energy of your connections. My photographs will tell the authentic story of your suppressed giggles, escaped curls, and knowing glances. All I ask is that you come as you are. Wear what defines you and makes you feel beautiful on the inside and out. Bring what comforts you. Allow yourself to stand together with the ones you love the most, and, for a brief moment, be completely present. Let go of all expectations for perfection. Feel the smallness of your child’s hand, the warmth of your partner’s proximity. All you have to be is honest. Put your arms around one another and bear witness to this moment in time. And I promise you will come away with more than beautiful photographs.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, my! Where do I start? I am so lucky to live in beautiful Colorado where the possibilities are endless! Let’s be honest, I love good food, so we would obviously have to work around hitting all the yummy spots in Boulder. We would start by grabbing a cup of coffee and a quick bite at Alpine Modern. Then we would head out for a hike at one of my favorite trails in South Boulder, Shannahan Ridge. Then we would hit up Oak on Fourteenth for a Southern-inspired lunch. Their fried pickles are a must! Next up…A stroll down Pearl Street and a spicey marg at Tahona. And if we could sneak it in before the Nathaniel Rateliff show at Red Rocks, a pedicure at J. Lounge. On our way to the show, we would scoot by Cured to pick up a picnic to-go so we could tailgate beneath the iconic Red Rocks of Morrison.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be where I am today without my husband’s (Hunter Burke) love and support. He has always encouraged me to follow my heart and voice when it comes to my photography. I would also like to thank my amazing mentor, Caroline Colvin of Caroline Colvin Photography.
Ashlee’s headshot-Caitie Ramsburg Photography