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Behind the Photos: Interview with Photographer Ashleigh Reddy

by
Karine

Please introduce yourself!

I’m Ashleigh Reddy and I’m a full-time photographer here in SF, originally from Las Vegas. I started out shooting nightlife and events, but now I shoot all kinds of things - from corporate events, travel, lifestyle, and now experimenting with more portrait photography!

How did you come into photography? Have you always had an interest in taking pictures?

Growing up, we always had a lot of pictures framed and printed in my house, so just visually, pictures were always a part of my everyday life. My mom always made sure my brother and I had cameras, so some of my favorite childhood memories were going to the drugstore to get pictures developed.

When preparing for a photoshoot, I like to ask - “how do you want to feel?” and “when you look back, what do you want to remember?” to get a sense of their personal style.

In high school, I took a film class where I got to really exercise my photography skills and even develop photos in a dark room, and from that point on, I decided I wanted to be a photographer. Up until that point though, I had always wanted to pursue medicine, so it was definitely a big shift. When I went to college at University of San Francisco, Facebook was just getting popular too, which meant I now had a platform and excuse to take photos around campus and share them online.

What inspired you to pursue photography full-time?

After college, I was working at a nonprofit during the day. I was looking for more inspiration in my life, and started to give nightlife photography a shot. As I shot more, I networked my way around and started getting more and more opportunities. I worked at a few other part-time jobs over the years, but ultimately took the leap of faith to start doing photography full-time in 2013. 

How do you dress the day of a shoot? How do you get ready for a shoot?

I usually wear all black, but it really depends on the event. I usually wear business attire for a more professional event or more comfortable lounge pants with a blazer. I typically ask about the venue so I can prepare any necessary equipment, but most of the time it just means making sure my batteries are charged and memory cards are empty.

What’s been one of your favorite shoots in the last couple of months that you’ve enjoyed? How did you prepare for the shoot?

I recently photographed a woman’s 40th birthday. Portrait photography is really challenging - you have to really connect with somebody to get a good portrait. Prior to the shoot, I asked for inspiration photos, whether she liked more posed, candid, or closeups. The main questions I like to ask are “How do you want to feel?” and “When you look back, what do you want to remember?” to get a sense of their personal style. For this woman, she was entering a bikini competition soon, so wanted me to take more full body shots of her.

Are there any photographers that you really admire or look up to?

Annie Leibovitz - she photographed John Lennon the day he died - her portraits and lighting are just beautiful. Also Pete Souza - Obama’s photographer - he's more of a documentarian. He has such a gentle approach with his quiet candids. Finally, Steve McCurry - a travel/documentary photographer that excels in portraits and travel.

What advice do you have for those looking to break into this space?

Start shooting! Photography is pretty much accessible to anyone that has a smartphone nowadays. There are also tons of online resources to find opportunities  - a few of my favorite are Instagram meetups like Igers of SF, Igers of NY and Rising Tide Society!