Tips from the Pros: Photography Details with Ashton Kelley Photography

You hear it all the time. As soon as you’re engaged, book your dream photographer! So what’s all the fuss about? We joined Ashton Kelley of Ashton Kelley Photography to learn more about why photography is so important to your big day. Trust us, don’t skimp on the details. These photos will last a lifetime!

Rock Paper Sisters: So great to see you, Ashton! Tell us a little bit about you. What made you enter the field of photography and what do you love most about your job?

Ashton Kelley of Ashton Kelley Photography

Ashton Kelley of Ashton Kelley Photography

Ashton Kelley Photography: My name is Ashton Kelley, and I'm a WV girl living in Baltimore, Maryland. I married my college sweetheart a year and a half ago, and we live right in the city with our three dogs. I specialize in wedding photography and photography education, and what I love most about my job is the opportunity to reach so many people. I have the honor to connect with so many unique personalities, to tell love stories, to empower businesses, and be part of some really amazing memories in the making.


RPS: We’ve followed you for a long time, and we’ve been so blessed to work with you on a variety of projects. Your work is truly art! Tell us why it's so important for a couples to invest in quality photography for their big day (or really any important event or life milestone!).

AKP: A day like your wedding day can't be done over. Those moments are one of a kind, fleeting, and will flash before your eyes. A quality photographer knows how to capture what's important to their client, the un-anticipated candid instances between, and all of the details that support the visual story of a final gallery. A great photographer can take any wedding, budget versus luxurious, and provide the same experience because they understand how to build a strong collection of images that will encompass the vibe of the entire event.


RPS: So well said! The photography can’t be overlooked. What are the downsides that can occur, or regrets that couples may experience, if they choose not to hire a professional photographer for their wedding day?

AKP: The best thing about hiring a professional photographer is that you can relax and trust them on your wedding day. With their experience comes efficiency, and that will allow couples to feel that they can enjoy their event, rather than stress their photographer may miss something. Professionals like myself strive to contract clients that we genuinely connect with. We care about what we do, we get attached to our clients, and that makes it easy for us to anticipate their needs and take care of them without them having to ask. They know we've got their back and they won't have to worry about missing photo opportunities or living with photo-related regrets.


RPS: So well said! What types of services do you offer your clients beyond just their wedding day? Engagements, anniversaries? Other unique sessions?

North Point State Park Engagement Session by Ashton Kelley Photography

North Point State Park Engagement Session by Ashton Kelley Photography

AKP: I offer a complimentary engagement session to all of my AKP couples! It's important for me to get to know them better, and it's so fun to treat the engagement session like a date night (this third wheel, included!). This is a great basis to build a relationship with your clients and will absolutely keep them coming back! I offer anniversary sessions and family sessions to my couples as they progress into their lives together. I love capturing their memories as they grow, and it's an honor to work together time and time again. I ALSO offer boudoir sessions, which are a little more intimate to talk about. I will say, my brides (and their grooms!) absolutely adore the experience.


RPS: These sound more like experiences than photography sessions. So fun! What photography styles do you see emerging for 2018 weddings - light and airy, dark and moody?

AKP: I've always considered myself somewhere in the middle, or slightly off the map. I think it's easy for photographers to feel insecure about their style as trends emerge, so we try to focus on bringing our own visions to life without comparing them too much to what is popular. While I'm not sure what editing styles will be most popular this year, I do think it's great that it's always changing. It's good to know that whatever my style is, it will always be rotating in demand!


RPS: Absolutely! What are some details or elements that clients use that you think are fun, unique or exciting when it comes to photographs on their wedding day? Pets, heirlooms, etc.

AKP: I touched on this a bit earlier, but I love treating a session like a date night. Encouraging clients to do something that is unique to them or something they would do in real life can create the most authentic atmosphere. I adore clients with a sense of style, across all boards, because "style" is so subjective. Couples who really show up owning their confidence makes me so happy. Pets are ALWAYS welcomed to my sessions, but I like to keep props to a minimum. For me, it's all about capturing the connection, emotions, and joy we are celebrating in the moment.


Annapolis, Maryland Wedding shot by Ashton Kelley Photography

Annapolis, Maryland Wedding shot by Ashton Kelley Photography

RPS: As a photographer, you attend a lot of weddings. What are some trends that you've seen over the years that you love? Any new trends you see emerging for 2018?

AKP: My grooms this year are taking a much bigger role in planning! From grand entrances, music choices, catering, and more, guys want in on the action. I LOVE it! Watching my couples come together as a team is so cool. They are forces to be reckoned with, and it makes me so eager for my 2018 wedding season to begin. As far as detail trends, I think that clients are definitely stepping up their detail game. I've noticed a lot of special attention to paper goods (shout out to Rock Paper Sisters!) and table top detailing.


RPS: Aww, thanks for that shout out! As we close, what are one or two pro tips that you want every couple to know when it comes to photographing their wedding day?

AKP: 1. Start early/give yourself some time! Begin with your venue and date, then start looking for your photographer and videographer next. I typically book clients about a year in advance. Take advantage of prime dates by giving yourself plenty of time to plan. This will also give you plenty of time to pay off all of your vendors without stressing out. 2. Same advice, but for a different reason! Start early/give yourself some time! I have to say this again because it's important outside of planning your wedding. You are only engaged for a short period of time. Take advantage of this short chapter of your life together! Celebrate your love, honeymoon in it, and don't spend the entire time anxious and fighting over the little things. Give yourself time, hire a planner, and enjoy yourself. Just like your wedding day, you don't have a chance to relive this period of bliss.

Such great advice! You can learn more about Ashton Kelley on her Facebook page (, on Instagram (@AshtonKelleyPhotography) or her website at

Stone Manor Country Club Wedding by Ashton Kelley Photography

Stone Manor Country Club Wedding by Ashton Kelley Photography