#womenwhoinspire: Ashlynn Miller, Photographer + Owner, Bluebell Photography

I'm pretty sure the first time I came across Ashlynn with Bluebell Photography, it was on Instagram. Even though she said she was 'newer' to photography, her work was that of a true pro. I was instantly drawn to the bright, ethereal quality of her photos (she is one awesome light manipulator!) as well as her appreciation for quality hair and makeup for her clients. In the end, we've worked together on many sessions over the past couple of years; it has been a true joy getting to pamper her senior girls, be a part of the collaborative process of every shoot, and watch Ashlynn inspire the young hearts of her senior model team from year to year. To book a shoot or be in awe of her photographic skills, you can follow her on Instagram or visit her ephemeral website. Here's Ashlynn.

J:  Bluebell Photography is a cute name for a photography business. Where did the name come from?

A: Bluebell is a name very personal and dear to my heart. I've always been a horse-lover, and when I was a little girl my parents bought our family this gorgeous Arabian mare - Miss Blue; the absolute best friend a little girl could ask for. I spent so many years riding, showing, and with the horses. When I started my photography business and was in search of a name, our mare passed away due to colic. I knew that Bluebell was a nod to the sweetest friend as well as my love for flowers and gardening.

J: Were you always interested in photography? How did you become a photographer?

A: I actually had no intention of ever becoming a photographer. Ha! I knew 100% I was going to be an agricultural extension agent for 4-H at some county office somewhere. So, I made the mistake of only applying to NC State for the pre-vet program. TJ, my then boyfriend, now hubby, was a Civil War re-enactor. He loves history and gets to teach the public at these events. My dad had just bought me a camera for my 18th birthday, so I grabbed it and started shooting the events. The rest is history. 

J: Did something come before photography? Do you have a degree in something else?

A: I actually applied  to NC State the day of the deadline. Guess what? They were full already. I was put on a waiting list. I had no back up plan, so I attended a community college for two years and planned to transfer. But God completely turned my plans around and I ended up going full "heart" ahead into photography building my business.

J: What types of sessions do you offer? What do you love to photograph the most?

A: I specialize in high school senior girls and weddings. My current favorite sessions have to be bridals. Holy goodness. The details in those dresses and the glow that brides have is absolutely breathtaking!

J: This blog is all about inspiring and encouraging women. Tell us, where do you garner your inspiration from or what inspires you daily?

A: I am so, so about lifting other women up because of how much I've been lifted. I've been raised into a very religious family and my sweet grandmother- MeMe has always been such a guiding heart. She prays constantly and speaks words of wisdom to me when I need them the most. I'm inspired by her faith, which in turn strengthens my faith. My business, my life, marriage- nothing would be possible without God. I would have nothing to work towards if it wasn't for His glory.

J: Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life to date and why?

A: Going right back to MeMe again! And yes, everyone calls her that. She's from a little town in Wales and has the sweetest British accent ever! My grandfather was a pastor, and she stood beside him and supported him every step of the way. When he passed 10 years ago, I never saw her dwell in sorrow for long. She lifted herself right back up and continued encouraging others. She prays without ceasing and brings laughter to every room.

J: What has been your biggest struggle as a photographer? How did you endure it (or are enduring it currently!)?

A: Holy moly! Struggles are always real. Haha! To get down in the raw and cruddy aspect of struggles, when I started photography, I struggled with convincing others that this job was going to pay off - literally. I was constantly having to get creative and find ways to raise our income as struggling newlyweds. This in turn made me doubt my worth as a creative. Hours of Instagram scrolling playing the comparing game made me want to quit so, so many times. I've had to remind myself that no one sees the world quite like I do. I am a creative mind that no one can duplicate or copy. There's no sense in trying to be the next Katelyn James or Jenna Kutcher - when the world already has those positions filled. Being yourself and doing exactly what makes my heart happy is what keeps me moving forward.

J: What does 2018 look like for you? What are your goals for the year?

A: 2018 is the year of hustle! I'm so excited to be bringing in more coastal destination sessions and focusing on my favorite cities - Charleston, Hilton Head and Savannah. A few more stylized shoots are planned than last year. I'm focusing on exactly what I want to do and the feel I want to give my brand. 

 Main Imagery and this image photographed by Cana Dunlap

Main Imagery and this image photographed by Cana Dunlap

J: How do you give back to the community or serve others currently? Any organizations or charities you are partial to?

A: I grew up with horses and was involved with 4-H many years. My mom is the leader of our local club, and my plans next year are to help her in any way I can. I remember being so little and so in love with horses and helping the community with service projects. I would love to get back to that!

J: We all have one book, blog, or podcast that we’d recommend to others as a “must” check out. What is that for you?

A: Girl, let me tell you, I've been binge listening to "The Goal Digger Podcast" by Jenna Kutcher. You can listen to every episode free on iTunes. There is not a single episode I've listened to that doesn't resonate with my soul. She talks about the hard stuff, the success, and meaning behind it all. Definitely listen to Jenna and go follow the podcast series. 

J: What is your day to day motto?

A: My daily request is that everything I do be done for God's glory. That he would find favor in my work and that I would be able to capture just a small portion of the beauty he's created in the world around us. I feel that my 2018 motto is: to hit the ground running. Hustle, baby!

J: If you could leave the readers with one piece of advice to take with them daily, to help them feel encouraged, what would it be?

A: Do whatever makes your heart happy. Do work that is unique to you and sums up your loves. Don't worry about the money. There will always be a way to turn what you love into a job. Keep on dreaming. Keep on trying. Don't ever, ever give up for what's easy. It'll be so worth it in the end.

J: Are there any other tidbits about you we should know about?

A: My husband TJ and I are doggy parents, who basically live on a farm. We've got two dogs, two cats, and chickens! The horse barn is right around the corner, too. If we aren't hanging out in Fuquay-Varina, you can find us in Charleston-soaking up the sun on a beach somewhere. We plan to have like three houses when we strike it rich. One in Charleston, one in Savannah, and then our home right here. Big dreamers, right? 

J: Where can the readers book you and keep up with your community?

A: You can keep up with me on Instagram at @bluebellphoto. [As well as] my website and blog www.bluebellphoto.com.