Wisconsin Wedding Photographer: The Rumors Are True!

May 26

Wisconsin Wedding Photographer: The Rumors Are True!

After taking nearly two years off from actively marketing and booking weddings and portrait sessions, I have decided to jump back in to the wedding and photography industry!

Ashley Durham - Wisconsin Wedding Photographer

Over the last several months, a piece of my soul has been missing. I served the wedding and photography industry for 10 years and walked away officially at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. It was not necessarily a knee-jerk reaction, but more of a “straw that broke the camels back” situation. Behind the scenes, I was dealing with bitterly angry and heartbroken couples forced to cancel and change their big plans. Not to mention, I was also dealing with my own fears of what the next months and possibly years would look like for my business.

I really needed a break.

I needed to not deal with weddings and the stress of traveling during such uncertain times. It was important to me to be home with my family while my brother in law was battling his brain cancer, and with them after he passed away. I had to battle my own cancer battle, and uproot my family again for the bazillionth time and move to Wisconsin.

The mere idea of rebuilding my photography business, again, just about gave me hives and more than a few anxiety attacks. I’ve had to rebuild my business so many times – first in North Dakota, then Colorado, California, and back to Colorado. Then we were going to move to Texas but then detoured to Georgia instead. In an industry where reliability, consistency, networking and local knowledge is paramount – rebuilding my business over and over again is the hardest business thing I’ve ever done. It sucked, big time. 

And I just got tired of doing it. I got tired of making all these great connections, only to have to do it all over again just a few months later. It’s exhausting! And time consuming. If we are truly being honest: a little soul-sucking. I needed to run away from dealing with the cancelations and angry people, because I was up to my eyeballs in life stressors. At the time, it was just better to stop what I was doing so I could focus on what was immediately in front of me. You know what I mean?

My friends and family absolutely supported my decision to walk away, even though they didn’t necessarily agree with it. Each one of them said something along the lines of, “we understand, but man – the industry is losing something great with you leaving.” I would get texts from past couples and clients saying they missed seeing me post work, and the inquiries for sessions and weddings all over the country never stopped pouring in to my inbox. Each time I would reply back with the “Unfortunately, I’m no longer booking xyz ...” it broke my heart a little bit.

The Smoke That Lit The Fire

I took a year off from working, for the most part. I did some ghost writing and social media management, and kept blogging of course, but I stopped booking any sort of photography jobs. But then I shot a wedding back in Colorado in November and shot another wedding in Texas last month, and it stirred something in me. Then a few weeks ago I started working at a local salon for a couple weeks helping a friend out, and very soon I was straight up on fire with the entrepreneurial spirit. I realized by helping her out that I needed to get back into business for myself, how much I missed it and how happy it made me to be buzzing around, marketing, talking and being with people, taking photos, and building connections.

While I don’t know if we will stay in Wisconsin forever, I do know we’ll be here for the next six years at least. 

Wisconsin Wedding Photographer: The Rumors Are True!

Wisconsin wedding photographer in Burlington

I have learned a lot of lessons over the last 10, almost 11 years, in the photography industry. I’ve learned even more lessons about being an entrepreneur, that I won’t be making again now that I’m starting my photography business back up. 

Here are some of the most important changes:

1.) I am not booking more than 2 weddings a month, and never more than one event or session per weekend.

2.) I am not booking any Saturday weddings or sessions during football season (August to November).

3.) I am only booking weddings in Wisconsin or northern Illinois. I do have some destination weddings on the books that were rescheduled due to the pandemic that I’ll be sharing on the blog, but I’m not booking out of my area anymore. Traveling, especially in the post-pandemic era, is not something I necessarily want to do and I don’t want to leave my family for days at a time anymore.

4.) I am focusing entirely on intimate weddings on the lower budget scale. I know that’s totally crazy in the wedding industry, but, it’s where I find the most joy. Backyards, breweries, lakeside, smaller venues – yes please! No more high-end weddings. Give me all the brides in jean jackets with DIY bouquets and homemade cakes. Intimate weddings and elopements will start at $900, and will go up from there depending on the couples preferences/customization.

5.) Videography is no longer something I offer. At all. Ever. I’ll be listing the rest of my videography gear for sale pretty soon, because I want 100% of my focus to be on photography. 

Things that are NOT changing:

1.) Digital files are included with all sessions and weddings. I want you to print your photos and share them and enjoy them for years to come.

2.) Digital galleries are included for downloading your photos and sharing.

3.) Randy is my main go-to second shooter, and he’ll be available as an add-on to all wedding packages.

4.) I am taking on limited family and senior sessions in the Burlington area (or within a half hour drive or so). Sessions are done on location, typically outside and in the afternoons.

5.) My blog and social media (Instagram and Facebook) are all going to continue to be a mix of funny memes, personal stories and a place for me to be real. I’ll just also be sharing some of my work photos in there, too!

Thank You.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. So many of you have stood by me as I took a break from this work while I spent some much needed time healing my heart and my mind. I’m excited to jump back behind the camera as a Wisconsin wedding photographer and have some fun with incredible people.

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