If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
This week, we’re fortunate enough to be joined by Ashley Lortie. Ashley is a boudoir photographer through her business, Ashley Lortie Boudoir. For those of our readers who may not know, Bridebox.com defines boudoir photography as “a style in which women pose for photographs partially clothed or in lingerie. The photos are tasteful, and nudity is typically implied rather than explicit.”
Ashley is very skilled and sought after when it comes to this type of photography. In 2019 alone, she completed one hundred and thirty sessions with women. Ashley will hold these sessions in her beautiful studio, or even in her clients’ homes.
Thank you for joining us to talk a bit about your business, Ashley! Let’s get to know the woman behind the camera for a second. What brought you to the Elko area?
“I moved to Elko from the Kentucky/Indiana state line area. My husband is originally from here [Elko]. The economy out in Kentucky crashed; we went down to working only part-time, and there were no other jobs to get. So, we came back out here. It was a big culture shock for me at first!”
When did you first discover your passion for photography?
“I got into photography back in high school. I would do yearbook and dabble in other things like that. Eventually, I got my first personal camera and fell in love with taking pictures. So, when we moved here, I had the choice of going back to work or figuring something else out. So, I started slowly doing pictures with friends, and now I’ve been doing photography full-time for the last six years!”
Interesting! Now, from where did the boudoir specialization come?
“It wasn’t until I opened my studio when I started shooting a lot of my boudoir stuff. I’ve always loved photographing women’s portraiture. I love that photography can be used as a tool to help women with their self-confidence. Once I got my studio, I was only going to do some boudoir photoshoots here and there, but then I realized how easy it could be! Before, I would have to rent hotel rooms and do marathon sessions. I thought boudoir was something I could focus on doing specifically, full-time, in like five years. However, it exploded, and six months into doing it at my studio, I could have stopped doing everything else. In 2019, I made the decision just to shoot boudoir.
“It’s what I love to do. I really have a passion for it. A lot of people go into photography because they want to give people memories. To me, that never fully resonated. I’d rather use photography as a tool for now. I love working with all the women and seeing the change it makes in them. They walk out of the studio with their heads a little higher, feeling good about themselves.”
What are women’s experiences usually like when they work with you, Ashley? What have you noticed about them after doing this week in and week out?
“The first ten minutes, they’re usually a little nervous, but by the end, they’re doing great! There’s a cool change that comes with the vulnerability that these sessions bring out. In our world, there is such a “standard of beauty” for women that tells us we have to look or be a certain way; this helps take that away. It doesn’t matter what your age or size is; for a few hours, you get to be the most beautiful girl in the room. A woman may think she has all these flaws, but sometimes it takes seeing yourself through the lens of someone else to see yourself in a different light. When a woman feels good about herself, it helps her with the confidence to reach goals and take chances; this is a great start for them on their self-love experience. I love being able to help show someone else their beauty.”
How do you respond to those who may not be the biggest fan of this style of photo capturing? I’m assuming it may not be for everyone.
“I focus on serving the people I can rather than trying to get everyone on board with me. I’d rather pour my time and attention into the women who get it. However, once people are around it enough, they usually tend to get it.”
Are many of your women coming in to have these pictures taken for others? Why do you want local ladies to come to visit you?
“A lot of women feel as if they have to do these sessions for someone, but that’s what differentiates me from other boudoir photographers. My sessions are not about men or your partner; they’re about you! You can give the photos to whoever you want, of course, but that’s not what it’s about for me. I think that mindset as caught on with many women. When I first started, it was primarily people coming in who wanted to do it for their husband or partner; now, I would say seventy-five percent of my ladies are coming in to do it for themselves. I get a lot of ladies who are going through transitional times in their lives, so they just need to be reminded that it’s all still good!”
Thank you for joining us this week, Ashley! Thank you for working so hard to build up and instill confidence in many of our neighbors. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we let you get back to it?
“Every woman deserves to feel good in their own skin, to feel comfortable, confident, and worthy. Any woman can do this, and the more they see that there are others like them, the more they accept themselves.”
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See you around, Elko!
Written by: Anthony Crosby
Edited by: Nadara Merrill