Today we’d like to introduce you to Aquina La’Shae.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started photography in high school in 2002-2003, It’s funny because I really didn’t like the class and only had taken it because it was literally an elective. But I had a natural talent that my photography teacher (Stan Cacti) kept pushing me more and more to delve deeper into it but I just had no interest in becoming a photographer let alone do it long-term especially being that I was super shy and barely liked talking to people. Before photography truly became a passion of mine I taught myself how to draw.
I loved art, I use to spend hours teaching myself how to draw portraits of people. My second semester into photography class my teacher started having me work on certain projects for yearbook, helped me incorporate my art and photography and before I knew it from sophomore to my senior year my school had me designing t-shirts, learning graphic design and taking photos for the yearbook and so much more that honestly elevated my art and my passion for it. Once I graduated high school in 2004 I started my journey as a makeup artist. I worked with a lot of male photographers whom one didn’t shoot black women in a way I wanted to see black women represented. There wasn’t very many black female photographers at the time either. I definitely loved the feeling of being on sets but wanted to do more than just makeup and that changed in 2010.
In 2010 was when I decided to take photography serious and created my brand A.LaShae Photography. I fell in love with it being able to bring an idea to life and being able to create with so many talented and creative people. Once I started going back and forth to LA and working with a full team of friends and family I never looked at photography as work it was truly me doing what I loved with the people I love!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road to say the least, but its been humbling. When I first started out I was shooting out of my living room with one light and using other people’s cameras, renting cameras and not having access to everything I wanted to see my passion flourish. I literally made it work with what I had and kept working to perfect my craft.
I struggled a lot with being taken seriously by close friends, family and even with being a woman in a male-dominated industry but it honestly made me want to pursue it even more. I had to learn the ins and out of the business with trial and error and took so many losses before I truly started to see myself shooting the kind of work I loved. Once I felt ready to reach out to brands, agencies and models I got a lot of No’s before the brands and people I wanted to work with took me seriously. Investing in your dream is something all entrepreneurs understand is never an easy road and can take a serious toll on your mental health. Being a creative you constantly doubt yourself, your work, and can be your own worst critic. Trying to balance whatever goes on in your everyday life, and your passion can be extremely overwhelming at times.
After I had my second son I went through postpartum depression and it was the first time that I made myself deal with it without ignoring that I was depressed, lacked inspiration, motivation or the drive to even create. I became very depressed at one point to where I stopped shooting for a while and honestly didn’t know if I was going to pick up a camera again. Life was happening, the hard work I was putting in wasn’t paying off and I just didn’t feel seen all while being a mother, and wanting to literally do what I loved as a career. I took so many silent losses for nearly a year financially, mentally and emotionally so I just isolated myself for a while before I even thought to start shooting again.
That following year I decided to take another chance on myself, rebranded started working with stylists, different models and really found my love for beauty photography. 2016 was the year where I fell in love with what I was creating, and connected with my creative tribe! I’ve been shooting for 12 years and I can say once I started working with the people who aligned with my purpose and passion I fell in love with what I was creating.
Once I was pushed out of my comfort zone that’s when opportunities started to pour in and I truly found purpose In my passion.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a beauty photographer. I specialize mainly in beauty content. Many people know me for being a makeup artist and photographer. What I am most proud of is my daughter sharing the same love for photography as myself. Seeing her in her element and obtaining her own clients and prepping and planning her own shoots is such a dope feeling I honestly can’t explain. Her natural talent for it really moved me and let me know that what I do, how I do it and why I do it is much bigger than me. When she did her first shoot without me being there to help her was a moment I’ll never forget how excited she was, and being able to share that with my first born and only daughter is something I’ll always remember.
What sets me apart from others is my drive and willingness to help others and share resources! I’ve always been a selfless person whether it be helping someone when I’m not in the space to do so. I absolutely love to see other people win, and love to celebrate others no matter what! I think that is one of the hardest things to come by in the industry that I’m in is people wanting to see others win and giving people their flowers. Even when it wasn’t my season or turn I’ve always shown pure genuine love!
Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
My devotion to other people, I do what I love to see other people win. I’ve remained very humble through the process and always remembered my why for starting photography.
- Website: www.Alashaephotography.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/alashaephotography
- Facebook: Facebook.com/a.lashae
- Twitter: twitter.com/alashaephoto
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