Ash Imagery

Portrait & Wedding Photography based in Philadelphia

Ash Imagery is a film photographer based in Philadelphia and Upstate NY.  Ash Imagery will photograph weddings and elopements in Philadelphia, Lake Placid, the Adirondacks and around the world.  Ash Imagery also offers Boudoir photographer and commercial photography such as lifestyle sessions.  Ash Imagery is considered to be a Film Wedding Photographer and a Film Photographer with a unique style and vision.  Ash Imagery is owned by Michael Ash Smith, a portrait and lifestyle photographer based in Philadelphia using film as his primary medium.

Pease Family. Minneapolis, MN.

 Several years ago, Gene and I started chatting online.  We both started in photography at roughly the same time and went down similar paths so we were bound to cross paths sooner or later.  Each of us admired each others work but we just weren't able to meet up.  So when Nick asked me to come out to Minneapolis and photograph his wedding I was super stoked because I knew it also meant I'd be able to meet Gene and his family.  When I told Gene this news I knew he was excited as well.  BUT, then Gene asked me to photograph his family while I was out there.  I know I've mentioned this in the past but whenever a talented photographer asks me to photograph them I go through a whole bunch of emotions.  I get nervous, excited, happy, and humbled.  It's a crazy and wonderful feeling to have a colleague trust you and enjoy your work enough to have them want you to photograph them.  

Gene and Jill were blessed with Olly last year and this little dude is adorable and already has a vibrant personality.  All I had to do was let him explore and be himself.  He dished out the pictures to me and I just clicked the button.  We hung out as a family, Olly laughed - and cried - and we spent a couple hours just doing the family thing.  Only this time I was documenting it all on film.  I love this family.  Gene and Jill are stupendous people and welcomed me into their home graciously.  I liked them so much I didn't even mind sleeping in the near freezing basement while their house was being renovated.  I had a minimum of 5 blankets on the one night ;)  

All kidding aside, I've been enjoying photographing families more in the past year.  Spending time in MN and photographing both Gene and Ryan's family have just reiterated the fact that family sessions can be wonderful and scary and can yield some super awesome raw images.  Real images of family life and family time.  

I like that.


Kayla + Nick. A Stouts Island Lodge Wedding in Wisconsin.

"What was your favorite part of the day?" my buddy Collin asked me as we were sitting by a fire spewing embers from several gigantic logs that had just been taken from a tree which fell down the day before from a storm.

I was exhausted, relaxed, and probably dehydrated because I always forget to drink enough water at weddings.  I took a few seconds to think about it.  There were so many wonderful moments to pick from but one particular moment stood out the most for me:

Nick and Kayla had just stepped off the wicked looking boat after a celebration ride around the lake following their ceremony.  The sky was a perfect summer day blue, even though it was Autumn.  It had rained quite a good amount the days prior to the wedding but just in time, the crappy weather cleared out and mother nature created magazine worthy weather for us.  Each of us stepped off the boat and onto the dock.  Getting to witness the few minutes couples have alone after a ceremony is always wonderful, and this time was no different.  They get some much needed time away from the crow and I get to document some of the more intimate moments of their hectic day.  We made our way to the stairs to get off the dock and onto the island where we were headed to cocktail hour.  About 10 stairs up there is a small landing where you then make a right turn to go up one more flight of stairs.  The sun was on its way down at this point in the day and patches of light were making it through the trees and on to the stairs, and us.  Nick and Kayla rounded the corner to proceed up the next set up stairs and just made it to the top when a small gust of wind came and blew Kayla's dress to the left - almost reaching Nick's legs.  I had my camera up close to my face even though shooting while walking up stairs is not the smartest thing to do as a photographer, especially when you manual focus each and every photograph.  

That moment happened and I didn't hesitate.  I fired off a shot.

Something powerful came over me for that split second of time.  I'm not saying it was something life altering, or spiritual in nature, but it hit me hard.  Obviously something happened in my brain for me to remember it so vividly when I witnessed thousands of little moments that day.  When Collin asked me the question, this one dominated my thoughts.  This one meant something.  I think it's because at that moment of the day I realized how awesome that wedding was, how lucky I was to be there, how happy Nick and Kayla were, and how much I love being a photographer.  It stuck with me.

Moments define weddings.  It's easy to get wrapped up in the portraits, or other heavily regarded events from a wedding day but I like to not lose sight of the tiny things.  I seek these minuscule portions of a day out and try to put them together to tell a story.  That story comes to life in the pictures I give to my clients.  I always hope they see what I see, and feel what I feel, when viewing them.

Stadler Family. Minneapolis, MN.

Quite often, life doesn't go as planned.  You get an idea in your head of what something will be like and you are sometimes pleasantly surprised or even let down or unimpressed.  The more time you have prior, the more your imagination takes hold.  Because of this, as a photographer, I try to block out how things will go at a wedding or portrait session.  This way, I'm present only in the moment and can utilize my skills and adapt to the situation.  This approach has always benefited me.

From a client's perspective, though, this is a lot harder to do.  Throw in 3 children and it becomes nearly impossible.  This was the case, I believe, for the Stadler family when I photographed them while I was out in Minneapolis last month.  I have an idea of what Ryan had in mind but as the session unfolded, things changed.  But they didn't change in a bad way at all.  As mentioned above, life doesn't always go as planned.  But thats what makes it so much fun to photograph.  Yes, the beautiful portrait shots up on a cliff looking down 5,000 feet are wonderful and so many portrait photographers are eager to obtain them.  But for me, that's not what I thrive on.  I thrive on the unplanned and unforeseen; the obstacles; the changes.  Things may not have gone according to plan for the Stadler family, but it didn't matter because what we obtained was a reality that you couldn't duplicate if you tried.  It was in the moment and raw.  It was wonderful. 

Kristin + Dan. Married at The Farmhouse in Wilmington, DE.

This is a complete inside joke and only a very few people will understand this however it sums up Kristin & Dan's wonderful wedding perfectly and since it's my blog, I can post what I'd like ...


Enough said.  

Congratulations Kristin & Dan.  I hope to see you both at a future wedding of another member of the group ;)