A road less traveled…

It is a beautiful November afternoon. The snow is white on the ground, I have a warm baby on my lap and a cup of coffee to my right. I have been thinking a lot lately about my life, and the sequence of events that have happened to lead me to this point. I was asked the other day on a legal form what the highest level of my education is and this single question sent me on a tailspin of thoughts that lead me to one conclusion: I am so happy and my life is not at all what I thought it would be. For you to fully understand the conclusion, I have to start at the beginning.

All throughout my academic life I thought that at some point I would hold a doctorate degree in something, but at the very least a masters. Upon my graduation of High school, my dream was to become a teacher, but a summer of nannying two wonderful little girls made me pause and reconsider the path I was about to take. I was so exhausted every day when I got home, and my logical thought process multiplied that feeling by 28 (the amount of students I could have), and this made me realize that teaching was not my true calling. I then began to dig deeper into my fears in becoming an artist, and the financially unstable path I was scared of. (My fears came true, but I don’t mind being broke and insecure). I thought long and hard about leaving my full ride scholarship to attend an Art school in Seattle where the price tag would be $40,000.00 for an Associates degree. Gulp! I can still remember the call I made to my Dad and how scared I was of telling him about what I wanted to do. Strangely my Dad was thrilled and said he knew I would be a great photographer and he couldn’t be happier about my decision to transfer schools. I finished my first year at Central (with as many general ed classes that would transfer over to AIS) and started the program summer quarter. This is an unpopular quarter to start given that well.. it’s summer. But I couldn’t wait to start.

At about the same time I was wrestling with thoughts of switching schools, halfway across the globe in China was Angie. Angie was soul-searching too, backpacking around China, and trying to figure out what and who she wanted to be. (I will let her explain her story in full at a later date and time). She too decided she would never be sad if she knew how to take a beautiful photo, so like me she signed up for summer quarter at the Art Institute of Seattle. Angie had also taken a fair amount of College classes at this point in her life, so we were both placed by mistake in an advanced lighting class. We both arrived early on the first day of school super eager (and dorky) and sat by each other in the front row of the classroom. Slowly students began to file in and filtered to the back of the room and all started chatting like they all knew each other. I thought nothing of it and then the teacher started talking in what felt to me like Chinese. What was a lighting ratio? What was a 4×5 camera? You want to do what with that light pack? At the first break I looked at Angie sitting beside me and she had the same blank look I did and I asked her “do you know what this guy is talking about?” She said “I don’t have a clue”. At that pinot we realized the school had put us both in an advanced lighting class we had no business being in. And at that moment Angie and I started our friendship. We both graduated AIS two years later more bonded than ever and decided to go into business together. We started our company One Thousand Words Photography and began our adventure together. I may not have earned a masters or doctorate, but I got something even better: Angie.

Angie in Paris. Photo taken with quad cam.

Over the last 10 years we have been friends and partners in adventure. I still can’t believe all the things we have seen and experienced. From learning to surf in Maui, to traveling around the world to Paris, Prague, Germany, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Rhode Island, San Diego, Kauai, Sacramento, San Francisco, Oregon, and Texas to name a few. Angie is the best travel buddy: we love taking photos at every corner, goofing off, going to Art museums, and she lets me drive.

Disposable camera photos from Maui: Surfing silliness, mamba teeth, and windy poses.

Postcards, and a well loved city map from Prague

Fun size Al (my Dad’s ashes) in Puerto Rico, and Angie by our Hostel door in San Francisco, unknowingly holding a bag of XL underwear.

We still love to travel, but our adventures have taken a natural turn to Motherhood. You might be thinking our life looks like all sunshine and rainbows, and that is far from the reality of it. We have both gone through numerous hardships and loss. My father died due to a cardiovascular collapse November 3rd 2002, my body got very sick and I had multiple surgeries and procedures to correct the problems as well as dietary changes, and fertility problems to name a few. I choose not to dwell on these times but they have definitely shaped who I am.  Even though life has thrown me some serious curve balls, Angie has always been there supporting me and helping me through everything. We have lived extreme highs and lows. I think the secret to our  partnership working for so long is our business has always taken a back seat to our personal relationships. Our business was born out of friendship, love of photography and respect, and it will always be that way. The teachers at the Art Institute said our partnership was a terrible idea. They were right in the respect that we have never made very much money, but they were wrong in the fact that they thought it would destroy our friendship. When I count my blessings at night I think about what my life would be like without Angie, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. I love creating with Angie and I continue to be inspired by her at every turn our business has taken. Happy Thanksgiving Angie- I love you so much!

Two little adventurers in Juanita. photo taken with Diana camera.

Don’t forget to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. You never know when you will get the chance to do it again.

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Aly/La Luz Photography - November 23, 2010 - 8:06 pm

Oh Ashley, this entry made me cry! What a beautiful friendship the two of you have. I hope you both know how lucky you are to have each other!

Addie - November 23, 2010 - 8:29 pm

This is so beautiful, both the pictures and the words. You are right that Angie is one special friend!

Angela - November 23, 2010 - 8:33 pm

Beautiful Ashley. Having such a special friendship is truly an extraordinary gift. I really enjoyed learning a bit about your beginnings together! <3

maria - November 23, 2010 - 9:23 pm

ashley, i’m so happy to read about your journey… it’s amazing to think that i’ve known you since those days in HS, with all your creativity and zest for life. angie is a great inspiration and you are blessed to have such a good friend. thanks for the reminder to tell all those we love that we are grateful for them. i love you friend!

Joey - November 23, 2010 - 9:36 pm

So sweet. So very sweet.

Bob - November 23, 2010 - 10:06 pm

You guys are the absolute best. I can’t think of a better Twosome as a photographic team. You know the friendship comes first. You make one another better and better! Those guys who advised against being business partners were just projecting.

Alyson Ross-Markley - November 23, 2010 - 10:17 pm

So heartfelt, Ashley… I am touched to the core of my being. Your writing is as amazing as your photography. I love the story of you and Angie. From the beginning you two clicked! It takes two very special women to have a business and be such great friends.

Ashley DeLatour - November 23, 2010 - 10:41 pm

Wow guys! Thank you so much for commenting. I feel like I have so much to be thankful for. I’m really chocked up that anyone even read this. Thanks. : )

Sarah Taylor - November 24, 2010 - 10:45 am

I’ve read this three times. Is that weird? 😉

Ashley DeLatour - November 27, 2010 - 11:35 pm

Sarah- I don’t think you could be weird if you tried. Charm just spills out of you! Thank you!

Sharlane - December 4, 2010 - 7:19 pm

Okay, someone’s got to say it…the photo of you and the teeth is HILARIOUS!!!

S t a l k   u s   .   .   .