Design Your Life

Fueling Your Creative Passion: A Photo Essay by Ashleigh Reddy

By Rachel George


San Francisco photographer Ashleigh Reddy pursued photography full-time in 2013. She worked multiple jobs after graduating from college, including working for a non-profit and doing makeup. However, nothing quite offered her freedom and the vibrancy that photography did.

“For me, I love photography so much that it was an itch I couldn’t not scratch. I was always doing it,” she says. “It was just something I knew I wanted to pursue as a career. I feel blessed and lucky that I have that opportunity to make art my career.”

Honing in on her own aesthetic, Reddy likes to take and post images that are authentic and feel good to her. During a trip to Brazil, Reddy stopped in Salvador, meeting people and immersing herself in Afro-Brazilian culture. She fell in love with their colorful houses, relaxed atmosphere and watching the sun rise and set on the beach. Explore her love for art, colors, and authenticity through this photo essay.

Ashleigh: The picture (the featured image) was really special, that was the last trip that I took in March. The Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Brazil is one of the most famous churches in Salvador. Those are strings that you tie onto this gate, or onto yourself. You tie it three times into three knots and make three wishes. The idea is that when one falls off, that dream has come true. I still have mine actually. Some people said theirs didn’t fall off for three years. It was just a really special day.

TN: Where did you pick up this artistic taste for vibrant colors?

Ashleigh: I ‘ve always dressed in bright colors even when I was younger. When I was in high school, I would match my shoes to my clothes and accessories. I was that person. When I went to India for the first time, I felt like, ‘Wow this is me.’” Seeing everything so bright and the vibrant colors. I felt this was a part of me and I didn’t even realize it. I just like everything to be bright, vibrant. It just makes me feel good.

TN: Have you applied this vibrant aesthetic to other parts of your life as well?

Ashleigh: I would say so. When I started photography, I was freelancing and doing make-up at MAC. While I was at MAC, I loved it because it allowed me to let it all out and be as free as I wanted. And it didn’t matter because it was under the scope of art. With Instagram launching in 2010 and seeing a space where you can curate your own aesthetic, that really excited me too. I thought: here’s a place where I can showcase my images and have a visual feed for people to look at and be inspired by. For me, it’s a portfolio to curate my images into one place. 

TN: What made you make that transition from makeup/photography to full-time Photography?

Ashleigh: I had to ask myself what brought me the most joy. I loved doing makeup as a hobby but as far as work, it wasn’t worth it to me and I think it was because I was in a retail space. Like at a mall, or a kiosk or Nordstrom’s, where you had to sell more than do makeup. So I started to lose some of the passion for it because it was so focused on sales.

With photography, I could make it whatever I wanted. I felt excited to do photography and maybe because I was working for myself. At the end of the day, it made me happier. Even when I was sitting down editing and not actually out there shooting. I felt a sense of contentment doing behind the scenes stuff. 

TN: You referenced art earlier. Why is art and being able to be free so important to you?

Ashleigh: Everyone’s an artist to some extent. If you look at little kids, you will hardly find a child who doesn’t like to color or build or do something with their hands. I think we’re all born with some kind of artistic ability or a likeness to it. As we get older, we’re given the tools to focus on harder skills like math and science instead. Those skills are great and we obviously need those, but I don’t think we hone in on art as much as we could. There are so many things that fall under the scope of art, and we don’t even realize it, like graphic design or architecture or industrial design. A lot of us have an inner artist that we don’t let out and we suppress over time.

“I just hope that more people indulge in their creative passion, as I did.”

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Rachel George

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