We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley McClanahan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk: That’s a tough thought process for me and I bounce back and forth between claiming to be a risk-taker. When presented with an idea that seems to be risky, I always work out the pros and cons. First and foremost – what is my chance of dying? (usually very slim, I mean, come on, I’m a photographer not Evil Knievel.) Then, would this risk hurt anyone else around me? What are the benefits of this risk? After those questions, I’m typically on board for going through with the idea. But never have I been someone to just DO without THINKING FIRST. I would argue that quitting corporate America with a steady paycheck to work full-time with my photography business was risky. Did that just happen one day? Hell no. I waxed and waned on this idea for years. Then finally I snapped and quit my desk job. It felt so insane, but so right. I would argue that it was the best thing that I ever did. Taking risks ultimately makes you different than others. Not better, not worse, just different. You’re taking a road less travelled. I’ll say that it typically ends up bringing you to a place of happiness and a level above most. Im a fan of risk… of making life a little less boring than staying in the lines.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art revolves around many forms of emotion. My goal in every session is to not just “take photos” but to make my subjects feel. I want them to continue to feel that same emotion every time they view the image. What gets me excited is when I look at the back of my camera, and I instantly get overcome in that moments vibe. I think that will always set a good photographer apart from one who is just wanting a specific look in a photo. This is not an easy task, and like I said before, it’s simply my goal. I don’t accomplish this every session or every image. It takes a lot of time and effort to get to know my clients and create a space with them that is comfortable for them to let their guards down. It’s about connecting with humans and allowing them to be exactly who they are with zero-judgment. I want the world to know that I wholeheartedly believe in equality for all, and a space for you to be exactly who you are.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d say that there would be a loose itinerary. I like leaving space for spontaneous actions, like a random pit-stop at a tattoo parlour, or a sunset walk. Some experiences can’t be planned. On a grand scheme of things, we would eat at locally-owned restaurants and bars: ones that care about their ingredients and environments (there are too many to name, which Is why I love Denver). There would be many hikes (I specifically love Salida and the surrounding areas). We’d also just hang at my house, or somewhere where conversation flows, because at the end of the day, I’m about connecting with the person.
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 family deserves a shoutout: My husband, brother, parents, and my non-blood chosen family. My shoutout is for their countless hours listening to me talk out business ideas and cry if things don’t go according to plan. On pushing me to take the risk, and celebrating the victories. For supporting me, and telling me I’m great, when I don’t believe those words myself. Family + Friendship is the most important aspect in my life, including my business.
Ashley Tiedgen Photography