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Spring/Summer 2016 will be my last season shooting weddings.

As a person who normally has a lot to say and knows how to say it, I’ve really struggled with how to word this post. The last thing I want to do is to make it seem like I’m no longer photographing weddings because I hate them or because they aren’t important to me, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of my past brides & grooms are some of my most treasured friends. To say I was there and entrusted to capture that day is the honor of a lifetime.

I also want to keep this short because I could write a book on the process of coming to this decision, but as I like to say, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

As I’ve been growing and nurturing my business over the past five years, I’ve photographed a wide variety of sessions and events. While I grew as a photographer, I began to realize what made me feel most fulfilled and that was getting the opportunity to get to know the workings of a family or a child and to recognize what makes them come alive. My greatest joy comes from telling their story and capturing that personality in the most authentic, simple way I know how. A dream sparked in me that one day I’d be able to do this type of photography full time.

This is something I’ve been debating on and praying about for a couple of years now. The truth is, I am at my happiest when I’m photographing a family or a child. I don’t want to capture perfection – I want to capture honesty. We play together. We dance and laugh and catch bugs. We pick pears and play in water hoses. We throw leaves and run barefoot down dirt roads. We chase chickens, we dangle our legs from the tire swing, I watch daddies push their babies on a wooden rope swing hung from a pecan limb by my own dad. These are all memories that one day, I want to make with my own children, and if I work every single Saturday, that won’t be possible.

Maybe it’s the journalism background, but I crave these authentic moments between families and I want to devote myself and my business to capturing them. We live in a social media cobweb where we mindlessly scroll through “pretty” all day long. We’re inundated with gorgeous photos of perfectly positioned wedding décor, expensive houses without a trace of messy. Kids that don’t have popsicle stains around their mouth and mud stains on the knees of their pants. And it’s gorgeous. But gorgeous isn’t what I had in mind when I started this little business several years ago. I want the real moments. Aiming for squirrels with the pellet guns inside the house. Drinking from a waterhose in the backyard. Feeding the chickens in a skirt and cowgirl boots. These moments are messy and they are unplanned. But they are real life, as it happens. No, they may not stop someone scrolling through Instagram dead in their tracks, but one day, the parents won’t see the imperfections They’ll look back with longing and see that these moments were perfect, just not in the way they had once imagined. The cowlicks. The toothless grins. The way his nose crinkles. This is what I want my business to be about.

To my clients, thank you for making it possible for me to always follow my dreams. You make me the happiest.

To my past brides and grooms, I treasure every second spent with you. Thank you for trusting me.

To inquiring brides and grooms: I have a list compiled of my absolutely favorite local wedding photographers that will take amazing care of you. Just ask.

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I’m currently booking sessions for April, May, and into Summer 2016.

ashlee.culverhouse@gmail.com

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A handful of favorites from 2015:

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