Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How To Get Over Yourself | Living Happily with Vitiligo

I've been planning this post for what seems like a very long time.

For day six of Alex Beadon's Feel Good Blogging Challenge, she's asked us to post a vulnerable story. The very first thing that popped into my head was my experience with my vitiligo.

Years ago I used to spend hours on Facebook vitiligo support groups encouraging others in dealing with their disorder and retelling my story in hopes of making a difference in someones life.

It occurred to me several months ago that my personal story with vitiligo might make a good blog post. So it was scheduled into my content calendar for the month of October, but honestly I just hadn't gotten around to it.

So here's the little push I needed. Get ready to dive headfirst into my childhood...

Summer 1999

My best friend Caitlyn and I lived just a couple blocks from our elementary school and we always walked home during our lunch break. On this particular day, I went to my house and she went to hers and after lunch, she walked over to my house to pick me up before we would walk back to school.

"Were you drinking milk at lunch?" she asked me.

I told her no, with a confused look. She told me I had a milk moustache.

I walked into the bathroom and stared at my face in the mirror. I leaned in closer. It did look like I had white around my mouth. I tried washing my face and mouth but the white remained.

Over the next several weeks there were many doctor visits and tests carried out. I still find this crazy, but the doctors we saw were stumped. It wasn't until my mom discovered the skin disorder vitiligo online and brought it to their attention. They had found their diagnosis.

Vit - i - li - go
A condition in which the pigment is lost from areas of the skin, causing whitish patches, often with no clear cause.

Also incurable.

You might know of it as the skin disorder Michael Jackson had. Or you may have seen it on America's Next Top Model contestant Chantelle Brown-Young.

Over the next several years the white patches spread.
I had a ring of white around my mouth and eyes, and circular splotches on my forehead. They showed up on all of my joints - fingers, wrists, elbows, armpits, hips, knees, ankles and feet. I had patches traveling the front of my shins, forearms and lower abdomen.
I was truly covered.

I spent the next 8 years:
Covered in the highest SPF sunscreen I could find and constantly seeking out shade during the Summer.
Trying a million different brands of sunless tanner and makeup in an effort to cover up the most noticeable spots.
Wearing plenty of long sleeve shirts and pants often even in the hottest months.

But by far the hardest part of dealing with this disorder throughout my adolescence was coping with the bullying and ignorance of others.

Now the point of this post is not to receive sympathy or pity, but to help you understand that the journey to acceptance wasn't an easy one. But I got there eventually, and since coming to this one simple conclusion, I was able to completely turn my life around.

It finally occurred to me,

Nobody's going to make a big deal about it, IF I DON'T.

That was a turning point for me.
I wanted to be more than just a shadow, I wanted to stand out in a positive way. I wanted to live my life without fear of what other people would say and would think about my appearance. I wanted a normal life.

Have you ever heard the expression fake it 'till you make it?

Well I began to live my life around that saying. I knew who I wanted to be, I had my role models and so I faked my confidence. I was a big fat phoney and simply started acting completely different.
I chose to act happy, confident, outgoing and beautiful. I found my sense of humour again, my sense of playfulness.

I stopped hiding in the shade and I started embracing the sun. I wore what I wanted and didn't care who saw my skin or what they said about it. It didn't matter.

I turned it all around, because I chose to.

Literally, everything changed after that. Not only did I start to attract more friends and healthier relationships, but my vitiligo actually started re-pigmentating.

Now, I can't say whether or not my choice to change had anything to do with my healing, but it's an awfully big coincidence, no?

If you are currently living with vitiligo, you need to stop suffering. I cringe every time I read that word on a vitiligo website or support group, "those of us SUFFERING from vitiligo,"


The more negativity we tie to this non-debilitating disorder, the harder it is to accept as normal and as a part of our lives. You don't have to love it. You don't even have to like it. But you need to put your positive pants on and realize that it isn't the skin disorder holding you back from the living a life you love, it's you.

It all starts with you.

You can be miserable or you can make yourself stronger. You have to make the choice.
Do you want to continue living a half-ass version of the only life you have? Beating yourself up over the only body you've been given? Will you let your vitiligo define you? Destroy you?

Or will you choose happiness?

These are the cards you were dealt. This is your life. You need to learn to accept yourself so that you can allow others to do the same, it's that simple.
I said it before, here it is again:
No one will make it into a big deal, if you don't... And if they do?  F*** em.

Blogger Tricks

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ten Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

Welcome to day four of the Alex Beadon #feelgoodblogging challenge.
Today I've been prompted to post ten things that most people don't know about me. 

Things are about to get personal!
Let's flip back through the thicker chapters of my past and I'll try to share some meaningful shit with you, peppered with a little bit of strange and humbling humility.

1. I have had vitiligo since I was nine
2. I love to garden but I have a black thumb
3. I had a near death experience when I was 15 (ejected out the back window of a flipping end-over-end truck, & landed on the side of the highway)
4. I loved being pregnant and had an amazingly easy delivery, which I thank Yoga for
5. I'm a huge computer geek. I'm actually a huge geek in general.
6. I grew up on Vancouver Island and spent much of my childhood swimming in the sea
7. I saved my best friend from drowning when I was eight
8. I'm a recovering chocoholic
9. I used to be a huge tom boy and wear all my brothers hand-me-downs
10. I believe the human mind is a lot more powerful than most think

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to Add a Sunlit Glow in Photoshop

Always wondered how to add a beautiful burst of sunlight to your photos?
Follow this simple eight step tutorial!


S T E P   O N E
After choosing your photo, add a gradient fill layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient...)

S T E P   T W O
Change the mode to Hard Light and rename the layer if you want.

S T E P   T H R E E
Change the style to Radial and adjust the size to suit your photo (135%).

S T E P   F O U R
Click on the gradient box. This will open the Gradient Editor.
Click the space below the gradient box to add a new stop.

S T E P   F I V E
Change the first bottom stop to a creamy off white and then add two extra bottom stops.
Change their colours to yellow and orange and then adjust their location on the slider as shown.
Change the far bottom right stop to grey.

S T E P   S I X
Click on the far top right stop and change the opacity to about 30%.

Add a stop somewhere in the top middle between the two top stops and change it to about 70%.

S T E P   E I G H T
Click okay. Now without closing the Gradient Fill window, move your new sunburst to your preferred area of the photo and click okay!
Adjust the opacity of your fill layer to your liking.

{ O P T I O N A L   S T E P   N I N E }
Don't be afraid to add a second burst to really sunny up the shot!

The finished shot...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Story of Ashley Alexandra Photography

Our story begins a long long time ago, in a world before Facebook, iPhones and blogging.
The year was 2004 and I was fifteen years old. It was a blustery Summer afternoon and I remember listening to the wind chimes outside my open window while browsing through photographs online.
That was the day I found

I approached my mom that very day and told her, "Mom, I'm going to be a photographer."

After finding a great love not only in photography, but also within photoshop, I began obsessively taking photos and working through online tutorials, teaching myself everything I could and learning more and more about my niche.

My dad, the incredibly encouraging and supportive man he was, helped me find a job with one of our local newspapers photographing and writing articles about the local hockey games. This was also my first introduction to DSLR cameras.

Fast forward to high school graduation, I knew I didn't have any interest in going to university. I wanted to travel! 
So I went straight to work full time as a manufacturing technician for a company building solar powered components for compressors in the oil and gas industry. Far from working my dream job right? Don't worry it's all part of the story.

A year later I had taken two amazing trips to Peru and to Ireland, leaving me with a serious travel bug and knowing I had to experience more. Skip ahead one more year and I decided to take a distance education diploma course through the Photography Institute of Vancouver while traveling around Australia. I packed my backpack and left the country for a then undetermined amount of time, hauling along with me my laptop and camera bag.

Glazing over the many wild adventures and the serious love story that led to my marrying Danny, I arrived home in Canada just shy of a year later. Now a worldly yogi traveller and feeling much more schooled in the nitty gritty of photography, I had to choose my next path in life. First order of business? Make my broke ass some money!

Once again encouraged by my dad, I decided to become an EMR (emergency medical responder) working with a safety company. I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life but I knew I needed money if I wanted to continue traveling and pursueing my passions.

Skip ahead another year and I found myself traveling to Mexico to take my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification. It was all part of the plan! I was going to be a yogi photographer!

By 2012 I had built a healthy client base with photography and grown into a confident yoga teacher. I took the risk and the opportunity to quit my day job as an EMR/administrator and officially start my own photography business and teach yoga full time at my favorite local studio.

And I'm so happy I did.

Everything that's happened in between telling my mother I wanted to become a photographer and owning my own successful business has been an intricate web of chapters in my life with many different paths crossed and tons of crazy adventures. 

I'm a big believer in all things happening for a reason and there being no such thing as coincidences. I may not have known this was the path I was working towards when I first found photography as a hobby, but every single choice I made led me to this life. 

And you know what, I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Am Ashley, Hear My Roar | A Simple Introduction

Lovely to see you! 
Do you have a minute to chat? Can I get you a coffee? Chai tea?

I don't believe we've met. My name is
A s h l e y   V i n c e n t

I'm a yogi photographer living up north in BC, Canada. I'm twenty five years old and I started my photography business and blog three years ago after quitting my day job and deciding to pursue my greatest passions as a career.

Along the way, in 2013 I married the guy of my dreams, and shortly after, we welcomed a little dude of our own into the world. We called him Sawyer.

r a n d o m   l o v e s :
watching my favourite movies over and over again
drinking red wine and eating too much chocolate
hiking through the woods by myself
writing only in hand writing

I started blogging as a way to document my adventure into entrepreneurship and a way to connect with my clients and friends when sharing photography. I quickly found that I felt the desire to find my place in the blogging community and began to write more and more about my personal life and everything in-between.

I blog for the amateur photographer and budding photoshop artist.
For the health conscious yogi and the northern green thumb.
And for all the other likeminded weirdos who might just gain something from my late night ramblings.

When I first began taking photos when I was fifteen, I would get my girlfriends together and dress them up like drag queens and then we'd find the most amazing location within biking distance and we'd have ourselves a little photo shoot.
Recently I began transitioning away from Lifestyle photography - what I've built my business on - and moving towards themed and stylized glamour sessions.
Here's what I've been working on...

Something I wish for all my readers when they wander away from this little space I've created, is that they feel as though they just spent a few moment with a dear friend, chatting over their favourite glass of wine or a warm mug of tea.
I want to encourage my readers to chase after their goals, and to never settle for anything less than your dream life.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sawyer and Khloe's Morning at the Park

Every now and then I find the time to sit down and edit some of my personal photos. I edit my own so little that I constantly have a growing to-do list of holiday and vacation photos! ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014