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Off-Guard Moments



Ashley Robinson captures couples and families at their most candid using the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC G2 high-speed zoom.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Ashley Robinson


When Ashley Robinson was growing up in California, outings in Mother Nature were a regular event in her family. “My dad is a big hiker-slash-mountain climber, so we were always trekking somewhere in the wild,” she says. “And so as early as elementary school, I was begging for a small digital camera so I could take pictures of the gorgeous scenes we’d come across on our hikes.”

Now a resident of Farmington Hills, Michigan, where she moved to start a family with her husband, Nick, Ashley switched over to more serious gear, including a DSLR, when she had her daughter and began wanting to better document her childhood. “I’d become involved in the whole influencer world on Instagram and felt I should buy a more professional camera, because that’s what everyone else was doing,” she says. “There was a learning curve, but I just kept learning how to use my new tools and taking more pictures of people.”

Today, Ashley’s portfolio includes a little bit of everything—she still enjoys taking pictures of landscapes, as well as doing product work—but she especially relishes focusing on families, whether it’s events like birthdays, baptisms, and weddings; portraits taken during engagement, maternity, and newborn sessions; or a creative lifestyle shoot. “People is what I concentrate on,” she says. “I love my other photography, but when I’m working as much as I do and being a mom, the time crunch makes it hard to carve out time to do it all. My goal is to capture those moments that show the raw emotion behind the photograph, to catch people maybe a little off-guard so that they’re at their most genuine.”

© Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (70mm), F/2.8, 1/640 sec., ISO 640
Click image to view larger

Among the tools Ashley relies on is the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC G2 high-speed zoom. “That lens almost never leaves my camera,” Ashley says. “It’s my favorite, because it offers me everything I need to shoot for any one occasion. It’s fast, sharp, and versatile, and it renders all of my subjects so beautifully.”

© Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (70mm), F/4, 1/250 sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger

When she’s not commissioned to work a specific venue, Ashley has a handful of local parks in and around Farmington Hills she suggests so she can bring more of a natural environment into her photos. “That’s another reason I love the 24-70,” she says. “I’ll often incorporate the venue or outdoor setting into my images, and that lens gives me the ability to do just that. I’ll work that in subtly, so you get a sense of place without being overwhelmed by the background. I want the focus to remain on my subjects, and the feeling you’re getting from seeing them in whatever moment they’re celebrating or experiencing.”

© Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (68mm), F/4, 1/500 sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger

Ashley prefers the calm of the early morning, as well as the light at that time of day, though depending on the assignment, that’s not always within her control. “I love natural light, which is why so many of my sessions take place outdoors, but I’m also starting to experiment with flash more,” she says. “I continue to learn every day. What helps is that even in situations where the lighting is less than ideal, the F/2.8 maximum aperture on the 24-70 allows me to capture images that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture in some of those more challenging situations. Plus, the Vibration Compensation (VC) feature on that lens during these low-light situations comes in very handy. I tend to move fast when I’m shooting photos, so having that image stabilization feature is really helpful to me.”

© Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (62mm), F/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 1000
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© Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (68mm), F/2.8, 1/200 sec., ISO 125
Click image to view larger

Picking up lighting tips from other photographers has also informed her work. “The truly beautiful thing about photography is that there’s really no right or wrong,” she says. “Whether it’s a technique you came up with on your own or adapted from one you’ve seen, as long as you’re happy with the results and your clients are happy, that’s all that matters.”

© Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (65mm), F/10, 1/400 sec., ISO 200
Click image to view larger

A self-described extrovert with a bubbly personality, Ashley tries to exude a certain amount of cheerful calm so that her subjects are able to unwind in front of her camera. “If they’re more relaxed, I can get them to do what I need and guide them through any poses simply by talking to them and offering minimal instruction,” she says. “How I do that is based on each subject’s personality.”

While kids can often prove challenging during a photo session, Ashley finds them to be surprisingly easy to work with. “Maybe it’s because I have my own kids,” the mom of two says. “I feel like I can talk to my younger subjects more easily simply by meeting them on their level. I’ll typically start them off by encouraging them to do a goofy pose to ‘get the sillies out,’ which usually leads to lots of laughs and smiles and makes the rest of the session run much more smoothly. That’s whether I’m photographing them alone or with Mom and Dad. Many of the husbands, on the other hand—I have to do a little more persuasion with men, because they’re often wary participants in the process. I’ll tell them, ‘Let’s just have a good time, get this over with, and I promise, you’ll love the results!’”

© Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (58mm), F/2.8, 1/400 sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger © Ashley Robinson
24-70mm (85mm), F/1.8, 1/2000 sec., ISO 250
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From her social media (her Instagram account now has nearly 29,000 followers) and public outreach, Ashley has also stumbled on another unexpected perk: a community of photographer friends. “We swap tips and techniques, the best places to shoot, and so forth,” she says. “We don’t mind sharing secrets—there’s nothing territorial or proprietary about it. It’s been really nice forging these friendships and professional relationships, which help me as a photographer and as a person.”

To see more of Ashley’s work, check out her website and Instagram.






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