with Courtney Slazinik
Power of Personal Photography Projects
Power of Personal Photography Projects

Last week, I got on a train during my only day kid-free and went to Chicago to take photos. I left at 5:15 AM and got back at 4:00 PM, working on editing and culling my photos on the train ride back. When my husband got home with the kids and I showed him the photos, he had a funny look on his face. “Hun…these are all pictures of empty chairs. Like, all of them. Didn’t you see any people?”

I love her take on photography projects! Read - "Power of Personal Projects"

Read more: Photography Project Ideas

Yep, I went all the way to the city and ended up taking photos of empty chairs and a few random hoses. (Unrelated to the rest of this post, but totally serious, why do people with such tiny city yards need so much hose?! I couldn’t get over this.) Anyway, I didn’t know what I was going to take photos of when I left the house that day, and I never would have guessed it was going to be empty chairs, but you know, the spirit moved me or something deep and poetic.


The point of me sharing this story is that it really didn’t matter if hubby dearest understood them or if the cutthroat world of social media liked them, the point was for me to make something I liked. Which, because I’m a total weirdo, I did.

Read more: 30 day photo challenge (become an EVEN BETTER Photographer)

The days following the empty chair photos (a collection that I’ve since named “pull up a seat”) I started thinking about how awesome it felt to take photos that I wanted to take. Summer was so busy for me, both with business and busyness, it got to be overwhelming.


In the entire month of August, I didn’t take a single photo of my kids until the very last day. And, just to put that in perspective, the reason I got a camera years ago was to take photos of my kids. Hashtag, fail.

The chairs made me start dreaming of other creative projects. Documenting the arrival of fall on our farm. Shooting documentary portraits of my kids. Chasing the light to every corner of our property. Once I started thinking I couldn’t stop. There were so many photos I wanted to take all in that very second. And even if all the projects don’t get started or finished, just typing the list makes my soul feel so good.


The power of personal projects is so strong, it’s hard for me to understand how people function without them. Now that my creative goggles have been cleaned and balance restored to my piece of the universe, I feel like I have been missing something I didn’t even know I needed. Having a photography business has been such a blessing, but I feel it weighing heavy on me.

Finding the time to be present, really present, when I play with my kids or eat dinner with my husband has been a struggle. Editing and ordering and finding someone to watch the kids and losing every weekend… it’s enough to make a girl need a bottle of wine. Ok, let’s be real, I’d drink the wine anyway, but you get my drift.

Power of Personal Photography Projects

So, for the first time since the romantic notion of a photography business entered my brain years ago, my list of lofty goals for next year don’t involve more clients, but more meaning. Being creative and present, fulfilled and purposeful. Personal projects, they have a way of showing you what you really need, don’t they?

Stay creative, friends.

  • Pearl Wilson
    October 21, 2016 at 9:23 PM

    Very inspiring! I felt very connected this topic since it’s so relevant to me too!

    • Ashley
      October 23, 2016 at 12:23 AM

      Yay! So glad and thanks so much, Pearl!

  • Joanne Storm
    October 25, 2016 at 10:08 AM

    So well said! I couldn’t agree more!

  • Karissa
    May 22, 2018 at 3:01 PM

    I appreciate this post in that it reminds me that it’s “OK” that not everyone gets what I get and why I take images that don’t always mean a lot to others. Also, remembering to take time to just have fun!

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