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Meet Ashley Barker of Barkerfoto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Barker.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ashley. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have always been a very visually stimulated & creative person. When I was little, I would tare my favorite pictures out of magazines and pin them all over my walls. I would play with my parent’s camera and pretend I knew what all the foreign numbers did. Art, Gym and Math were my favorite subjects. I had a passion to be creative, active and solve problems.

At 14, I saved up enough money from Babysitting and washing dishes to buy my first SLR camera. I was sure I wanted to know photography inside and out so I also bought night classes at the local college to learn all I could afford in a group setting.

My best friends (males) were super into skateboarding at the time. Once they caught wind I dropped in on a decent camera, we were straight off to the new skatepark. I had 4×6 printed from that first roll and put one of my favorites up on the bulletin board at the local skate shop that supported the homies. A couple weeks later, an employee from a small local colored newspaper came by the shop, took the picture off the bulletin and ran it in the paper. Newspaper published, without permission, unpaid, and my name spelled wrong on the credits. None of this mattered. I had been published at 14! I was hooked.

Fast forward a couple years, I meet a bunch of pros and am snowboarders. They were so fun and motivated, we became great friends right away. I loved the idea of being active and documenting their lifestyle, so I jumped in head first. I was so happy being around great people every day, learning, creating, being outside and doing sport.

A couple years later, I attended photo school at Western Academy of Photography, in Victoria, Canada. I moved to Vancouver – followed by Whistler and kept the ball rolling. I started working with more celebrated athletes, and bigger brands amongst the sport. I meet so many amazing and talented people, logged a lot of adventures, hung out of helicopters, spent hundreds of days on a snowmobile and traveled the world.

January 2014, the snow industry was getting tighter and I was laid off my senior staff position at Transworld Snowboarding magazine. It was bittersweet. I was getting bored of shooting the same thing all the time. It felt like I wasn’t evolving anymore. In April of 2014 for the first time since I started in action sports photography, I backed out of a sunny day in the backcountry. Seriously, that probably sounds silly, but it was that pivoting moment happened. That very day an agency out of Pasadena called Conscious Minds decided to call me about working with Nike and booked me a flight to Portland.

That experience was my gateway into the commercial space. I started creating photos for @Nike’s Instagram with a heavy panel of photographers. I am such an all in kind of gal, that I ended up receiving awards for my efforts & success amongst the brand. That opened up a lot of doors for me. I started getting booked with bigger clients. I finally got to experience what it is like to have 10 people looking over the shoulder while your shooting. I was working and hiring assistants, grips and digi techs. I started producing with big crews. A lot of personal growth happened that year.

The most eureka moment was learning what drew me here in the first place. People. I learned that I just love working with great people. Passionate, inspiring, professional, amateur, just great people that are happy to be here. I always want to do my best and be my best and I know that together we can be even better. I couldn’t care less if I am shooting with the best athlete in the world or my neighbor’s aunt, as long as there are people involved in front or behind the camera, I am happy. Put me with a large crew where everyone is working to do there best and I am in euphoria.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Smooth road? Absolutely not, but that’s okay with me. That’s life. Those rough times definitely shaped me, and at the end of the day, I probably wouldn’t be who or where I am today if it was easy. Who knows, but I do love a good challenge, and problem-solving.

Being a female in the action sports world is not exactly typical, but I am not a typical gal. Guys seem to like to keep those bro things to the bros, for the most part, so breaking into that world was definitely a challenge, but once break-in that wall, I also felt like being a woman has its advantages. A female perspective is unique as everyone else is male.

Breaking into the commercial work has mega challenges as well. Skill aside, it’s really about who you know, and when your fresh to LA finding those connection doesn’t happen overnight. I am constantly reaching out to new and old connections, just trying to find great people to work with and clients that fit my style.

On top of finding work, being a freelancer is a constant juggle to find balance. I personally love working, because I love what I do. So I don’t have a problem doing the time; it’s more of a struggle to know what direction to move in. On my ‘off days’ I am constantly asking myself if I am targeting clients, bidding on the right projects, maximizing time, and test shooting with people that make things worthwhile.

Barkerfoto – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a visual artist, camerawomen, photographer, creative director, producer and an excellent listener. Alongside my team, we curate content that brings brands voice to life through visual arts. We direct and shoot campaigns from start to finish, bringing energy and life to new and old ideas. We cover people, influencers, fashion, sports, culture, and events in both digital and analog form.

I also get hired just to show up and shoot all the time. Although it’s much more rewarding to apart of the whole journey, I am just grateful to be working doing what I love and love it I do.

Although my work is mostly ‘commercial’ and brand related, I don’t want to get burnt out on any one subject or genre so I try to shoot all things and be shooting all the time. That means test shooting, shotting with friends, learning new skills, going to seminars, and talk to other creatives.

I have over a decade of experience working in this space but that doesn’t there isn’t thousands of other photographers wanted to land the same jobs. So I try my best to be pushing new mediums and keeping up with what’s making the biggest impact.

Cinegraphs, drone shots, water assets, stop motion, motion blur, getting high, getting low, silks, shadows, lighting you gotta do it all these days! Whatever is best for the client, we will get it done with a smile and grace.

Above all, we listen to our clients, set the and deliver.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is the accomplishment from start to finish of something to be proud of.

Nowadays, I don’t care as much about what I am shooting, as much as who I am working with. Making the best out of the hands we are dealt is part of creating success.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s so fun and amazing to be shooting the next best environment, shooting the biggest wave, today’s it model and pushing new boundaries. At the end of the day, it’s most important to me to be surrounded with great people that are on the same page. Together we are so much better, and every day is a new opportunity to get to the next level.

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