HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SENIOR PORTRAITS

It is that time of year, The New Year is around the corner and graduation will be here before you know it. That means if you haven’t scheduled your Senior Portraits already it is time to schedule them NOW. As a seasoned Senior Portrait Photographer, I would like to give you 5 tips to make your Senior Portrait experience the best it can be.

Lake Charles, La Sayrn Marks Influencer 2021
  • Location, Location, Location
    • Location is EVERYTHING. The location you choose should tell your story. Sure, it is just the “background” but can you interact with it? Is your location beautiful or does it speak life into your vision? Is it visually appealing? Will your location be inside or outside? If you are stumped on locations talk to your photographer, they are the expert after all and should be able to assist you for the best set up. I personally, keep a list of locations and venue prices on hand to help my clients with suggestions.
Brittany Henry Influencer 2021
  • Golden Hour or Bust
    • Yes, yes , yes sunrise and sunset has the most beautiful lighting during the day. It is always flattering and always just so colorful and we photographers just can’t get enough of the rising or setting sun. However, you don’t have to shoot at this time of day. There are plenty of indoor venues available from coffee shops to arcades. There are also spots with beautiful shade for nice even light and if your photographer is really fancy they have a huge light that can over power the sun and you can shoot at any time during the day as well. Golden hour is great but don’t feel like it is a necessity. Consult with your photographer for the best suggestions on lighting and time.
Lagniappe Records, Jeanna C/O 2020
  • Let’s go shopping
    • Ah yes, the moment most of us love to plan. Outfits! How many, which ones, how do I accessorize? My suggestion, at most 5 outfits, for a two hour session. Bring casual, dressier, and if you choose, formal. I absolutely love shooting my clients in formal wear. I think it is so editorial and look straight out of a magazine. You deserve to feel like a model in front of my camera. With that being said, you should also have images that represent who you truly are. Choose outfits you are comfy in and outfits that make you feel good. ALSO SO IMPORTANT: Choose clothes with texture. Lace, ruffles, velvet, fur. All of these textures and more photograph beautifully. Pops of color are so fun too. Don’t be scared to wear purple or blues. Ask your photographer for outfit suggestions. I love when my Seniors send me their Pinterest boards and ideas or come into my studio to look through my client closet for help with outfits.
    • Bring accessories: HATS. Hats are huge right now. You don’t have to wear them but they add something special to an image and you can hold them to relax your hands. Don’t forget jewelry, jackets, or cute purses. Whatever makes you, YOU.
Austin, Texas Kennedy C/O 2021
  • Give me Props
    • What items represent your Senior Year or high school years? Bring them to your shoot. Here are a few: Cap and gown, letterman jacket, WEAR your class ring. If you are into sports, bring a ball or two, helmet, bat, racket, jersey, etc. Do you dance or cheer? Bring your poms, shoes, or outfits. Library club? Bring your books, library card, etc. Are you into Cosplay? Bring your costume, lets dress UP! Nothing is too much. These are your IMAGES! No matter what your hobby is, what extra curricular activities you are a part of bring your items to your shoot. This is about personalizing your images, so that you have memories and a fair representation of this time in your life.
Madison C/O 2020
  • Bring a parent, Bring a bestie.
    • The Senior Portrait experience should be the most fun you have ever had(not exaggerating here). Bring your mom or dad, and let’s make memories. This year only happens once and senior portraits should be one of the best parts about it. Our parents do not want to miss out, you want them there. Bring your bestie. Besties come in handy during shoots, they make us laugh, they take great behind the scenes and they are usually part of the the greatest memories of our lives, so why not be part of this one? I encourage an entourage for my seniors because it should be a party, let’s have fun and make great images.
Maci and Kennedy Besties since 1st grade

Senior Portraits should be one of the greatest experiences leading up to graduation. You will leave our shoot feeling confident, refreshed and excited. But most of all you will have had the TIME OF YOUR LIFE! You are one of a kind, your images should absolutely reflect your personality and how amazing you are. I hope this article inspired you to make the most of you Senior Portraits and I hope you have the best senior year ever! Congratulations Class of 2021!

Contact Me to Book Your Senior Portraits TODAY!

Ashlee Bergeron| 3372776860| ashleebergeron@withallyourheartphotography.com

With All Your Heart Photography

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5 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem

In the day and age of snap chat filters and make-up enthusiast you may feel a bit of inadequacy in the “self-confident” department. Millennials and Gen Z alike have struggled with self-image through a societal view. Fashion Magazines vs. Keeping up with the Kardashians to snapchat filters vs. social media perfection.

I am here to let you know it gets better. From an older millennial who fought with self-image issues and low self-esteem nearly my entire life, there is hope. Like most people I have had my ups and downs but society doesn’t let up when it comes to “beauty” standards. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a size 0 to be classified as beautiful anymore but just like each generation before us their are other societal pressures you will face to “feel” beautiful.

It is true that beauty comes from within. Ignoring what society tells you is beautiful is a great start but is it that easy? For some, yes. For others you feel like you might base your whole life on finding the perfect weight, perfecting your winged eyeliner or your favorite filtered selfie and pose.

I have come up with 5 ways to help you build your self confidence and at the same time rebel against what society “tells” us as women what is beautiful.

  1. Lose the Filter, you aren’t coffee.

Okay, Okay hear me out. Yes, a filter can save the day on those lazy days when make-up isn’t a first priority BUT you should not base your beauty on a filter. Filters are not real life, they make your skin look like plastic and that face you see, it is not yours. Filters produce a false sense of perfection. Perfection is over rated. It is okay to be flawed, what you see as flaws others see as beauty. Filters are creating a very unrealistic expectation of beauty. Dig deep inside yourself and ask yourself, “Why do I feel like I need a filter?” I challenge you to post filter free for a week. Embrace the real you, speak your flaws into self-love. Show off your freckles, your high cheek bones, your imperfect eyebrows.

2. Say something nice or don’t say anything at all.

You would be surprised at the amount of effort it takes to rewire your brain for positivity and growth. Here’s a brain hack. Be kind to others, start seeing the beauty in others, especially other women or girls. What you see in other people is what you will begin to see in yourself. Unhappiness comes from within. Happy people don’t hurt people. Begin with one compliment a day to a stranger, then up it to 3 and then 5 and then eventually it will be second nature. How does this affect you, well your brain instantly begins to feel happy and giving out compliments ups your self-confidence. Don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

3. Self-talk not Selfies

Now that we have the filtered selfies out of the way and you are complimenting others, another key way to increase your self-esteem and self-image is to speak kindly to yourself. Positive affirmations: “You is kind, you is smart, you is beautiful.”(The Help) Look yourself in the eyes, say it out loud and BELIEVE it! You must be your biggest fan, it is OKAY to love yourself. Remember, rewiring your brain takes practice, you may have to fake it every day for the first few weeks. Each day you speak kindly to yourself is growth. Self-love is a mindset, you are uniquely and wonderfully made, you are beautiful and you deserve to love yourself. When we love ourselves and accept who we are it is a lot easier to accept and love others. Your relationship with yourself will grow along with attracting more beautiful people into your life.

4. Let’s get physical

EXERCISE. Not to improve your rockin’ bod(although that is a plus) but exercise releases feel good hormones to boost your mood and make your day better. It is one of the first steps in self care which then trickles into all other aspects of your life. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and mental anguish. It has also been proven to help improve anxiety and depression as well. Add to this with a nutritious diet and your self-esteem will flourish.

5. You are who you hang out with

You are most like the 5 people you hang out with. If your tribe is not lifting you up, boyfriend/girlfriend included then you should not be wasting your time and energy with these people. This rule goes for family as well. Our friends and family should be our biggest fans, they should hype you up. If you allow people you are close to, to tear you down, manipulate you, or call you names it is time to cut them from your life. You do not have to allow anyone in your life that does not speak positive and love to you. You must find your self-worth to build your self-esteem. First and foremost lose the toxic relationships.

I am 32 years old and it took me nearly 30 years to learn most of these tricks and tips. You must know it is a struggle every single day to continue to love myself. But love is a choice. You must choose yourself. You must love yourself. It all begins by working on yourself and becoming someone you can face in the mirror every single day. You are all you have and you are stuck with her. Love her. Be kind to her.

Ashlee Bergeron

www.withallyourheartphotography.com

Facebook: @wayheartphotography

Instagram: @wayheartphoto

5 Ways to Improve Your Photography

5 Ways to Improve Your Photography

Hobbyist or professional photographers alike are always looking for ways to improve their skills behind the camera. I am Ashlee Bergeron, published photographer and small business owner. I have shot film, and digital photography and have a love for post production. I would like to share with you 5 ways to improve your photography skills. It does not matter if you shoot with the latest iPhone, canon rebel or professional gear. Whether you shoot people or places, I am here to help you improve YOUR creative eye!

  • Blinded by the light
    • Lighting can come from many sources, but what is the greatest source out there? The SUN, of course. That big ball of fire can be your greatest friend or biggest foe. Many photographers choose to shoot when the sun is rising or setting. An hour before sunrise or sunset can result in a truly beautiful glow, this time of day is called golden hour. This is what some consider the “sweet” spot of natural lighting. Golden hour, no doubt provides beautiful light but most hobbyist or photographers love to shoot at all times of the day. Being mindful of your lighting is great. Ask yourself, where is the sun? Behind your subject? In front of the subject? The answers to these questions will help you determine the look you want. It is fun to experiment with light and you don’t have to be a pro to play with lighting. There are many inexpensive ways to bend light. Check out reflectors on amazon.com you can find them for about $20. Also for a very inexpensive reflector you can use a white poster board to add light on your subject. You can also use a white wall or sheet as well. Lighting is fun. Bending light is fun. But there is only one way to learn and that is to go out there and practice.
Austin Night Life
  • Slice and dice
    • There is a right way and wrong way to crop your subject. You do not want to cut off body parts, such as fingers, toes, knees, elbows.OUCH! A great rule of thumb(no pun intended) is do not crop anywhere there is a joint attaching limbs. Such as the elbow, wrist or ankle. Instead crop mid limb, for example: the shin or forearm. There are always exceptions to the rules but this is a great rule that will improve your photographer’s eye.
Limbs intact
  • Freeze Frame but first, FOCUS
    • Focus is one of the hardest skills to accomplish as a photographer. Where your focus lands in your image helps tell your story. What do you want your viewers to feel or see? Where do you want the viewers eyes to go first? The focus of your image should be sharp and should stands out from the rest of the image. For example: the eyes in a portrait or the ring on a newly engaged finger. You should not be shooting aimlessly and hoping to find focus. As you shoot you should set up your settings to tell the story using focus points on the viewing screen. Some cameras have several points, some cameras have just 6-9. Each are there for you to adjust according to the vision you want to portray.
  • Composition is 2/3rds of the Law
    • Think of your image with a grid laid across the top, splitting it up into nine squares. 3 vertical and 3 horizontal. The key to a great composition is leading the eye to one or more of the three quadrants but also not directly in the center. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but we must master “the rule of 3rds” first. Key elements or the subject of the image can be placed in the upper left or right quadrants or lower right or left quadrants. The idea of rule of thirds is to have a composition that is pleasing to the eye of the viewer. Composition takes practice much like other skills but can be done with out thinking once practiced enough.
  • ATTENTION to detail
    • What angle are you shooting from? Birdseye? Worms view? Eye level? Angles matter. Angles can help add emphasis to your story. For example: higher angles make objects look smaller, lower angles can do the opposite and make your subject look larger. Another detail to pay attention to is your background. Backgrounds should add to the story, not take away from the story. If your background consist of trash cans, toilettes, or vehicles changing your angle can help. Get lower, get higher move to the left or to the right. This skill takes practice but being aware of your background can completely transform your photography.
City at Sundown

These 5 tips may be just the beginning of your photography journey or you might be a seasoned hobbyist. Just know experience and practice are key so keep on shooting, getting better and working hard. Your vision is important and you deserve to share it with the world.

Happy Shooting!

Ashlee Bergeron

http://www.withallyourheartphotography.com

Facebook: @wayheartphotography

Instagram: @wayheartphotography

Senior Client: Kennedy Sittig Class of 2021 Opelousas Catholic

How to Save Your Senior Year

How to SAVE BIG Your Senior Year

Senior year of high school is fun, exciting, and full of memories to be made. Let’s not kid ourselves, being a senior in high school is the moment you have been waiting for your whole life BUT it is expensive. So, I am here to help you with 5 ways you can save SENIOR YEAR!

  1. Your Cap and Gown

Just the cap and gown alone can cost up to one hundred dollars. Well I am here to let you on to a little secret. You can find most colored caps and gowns for sale on amazon for $20-$30. Added Bonus: You can probably find your school colors and tassel as well.

As a photographer I have invested in many caps and gowns for my Senior clients. I have even purchased the tassel with their graduation year hanging from it. This is the perfect way to save 70 bucks.

2) Graduation Party

Everyone in your graduating class and the neighboring cities are having one! It is the perfect way to celebrate your BIG night. Venues cost money, decorations cost money, and invitations cost money!

Here’s an idea go in halvsies with your besties and celebrate together! Split the cost between 2 people or 4 friends or more. No-one wants to party without their best buds anyways. Just make sure the guest list accommodates the venue and you are all set to celebrate!

3) Your Class Ring

I remember my graduation ring costing close to $600, my ring was just a stone and a simple yet traditional look. It also had the class year and my two favorite sports/activities on the sides. No big deal, nothing fancy.

I suggest shopping around verse buying through the school. There are multiple options such as: Walmart, Zales, and of course small town jewelers. Quality jewelry is not cheap but if you can support a local business and save a few $100 in the process then it is a win win!

4) Prom

Vintage, antique shops, flea markets, thrift store finds are so very cool right now. Shop eBay for older dresses. Shop your local thrift store for a fun dress you can up-cycle. A little creativity and vision can go a long way. There is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress you will wear one night then sale for half the price the next prom season. If vintage is you’re thing, I suggest Gunne Sax dresses. These dresses are a high end line of dresses from the 70s-80s gorgeous laced sleeves and beautiful hippie styles and flowy bottoms. There are so many variations and styles to choose from. You can’t go wrong with these vintage beauties.

If thrifty and crafty isn’t your style you may find a beautiful treasure in your friends closet or facebook market place. Every year I see beautiful dresses selling for next to nothing. You may find the perfect dress in someone else’s wardrobe.

Happy Hunting.

And the GRAND FINALE!

5) MY Super Senior Portrait Session Sale

(Senior Pictures, HOCO/Prom Flowers, Graduation Cake, Gourmet Cookies, Hair and Make-up)

With All Your Heart Photography’s Portrait Sale in August is sure to SAVE YOU HUNDREDS!

August 19th-26th you can book your senior portraits for 75% off. That is booking your session for $50 or $75! WOWZERS! (booking September-May 1st)

That is not all, I have linked up with 5 other businesses for an excessive amount of discounts for you and your family! That is 6 businesses TOTAL!

When you book YOUR Portraits with me during this week you will unlock a circle of exclusive discounts for MOST of your SENIOR YEAR NEEDS!

You will receive:

  • 20% off Graduation Cake or buy 1 dozen of cupcakes get ½ a dozen free provided by JACIEBAKES located in Lafayette,Louisiana
  • 20% off Homecoming and Prom Flowers provided by Sonnier’s Flowers and Gifts located in Eunice, Louisiana
  • Buy 1 dozen, receive half a dozen of gourmet cookies provided by The Country Cookie located in Eunice, Louisiana
  • 25% off, Hair and Make-up Reg. $175. provided by Nikki Jordan at Blush Studios located in Lafayette, Louisiana
  • And when you add on a videography package you will receive: A FREE 30 second graduation announcement, when you add-on any package with CLEARFOG PRODUCTIONS located in Opelousas, La.

You CAN NOT go wrong with these ways to save! So mark your calendars and get ready for the GREATEST Year of your life! You do not want to miss out on the savings and the experience.

Senior Portraits are the last professional pictures you may take before your wedding. Your experience should be special. It should be personalized and it should be “One In A Million.”

Contact me today for more information.

Ashlee Bergeron 337-277-6860

ashleebergeron@withallyourheartphotography.com

www.withallyourheartphotography.com

https://www.facebook.com/withallyourheartphotography

Book the Ultimate Senior Portrait Experience Today!

2020 Grind, Growth and Goals

Nykee and Nelson enjoying their couples session

2020 is around the corner. New Year, New Decade, New Everything.

Are you starting over? Are you continuing to grow? Are you setting goals?

The time is now. If you have not started your New Year list of goals yet, it is time! This is no ordinary New Year this is the beginning of a ten year span. The door closed on a decade passed! Stay tuned for some major inspiration because I am putting together a list of 5 ways to motivate yourself for the RISE AND GRIND OF A NEW DECADE!

  1. Intentionally JUMP out of your comfort zone.
GO with childlike wonder.

Growth is not found when we do the same thing over and over each day. That is also, for some the definition of insanity. If you want to grow, change your habits, perceptions, situation and life you must get out of your comfort zone. Sure, you could take baby steps but I firmly believe that may not be enough. 2020 is the time to push yourself out the nest of comfort. What is the one thing you have ALWAYS wanted to do but did not have the guts to pull the trigger on? Tattoo, sky dive, travel to a different country? It could be something as simple as finding a new job because the 9-5 you work NOW sucks the life out of you. Maybe it is cutting your hair after years of wearing the same style. Maybe it is taking dance lessons or painting classes. What in the world are you waiting for? We are not getting any younger and life is just getting shorter. MAKE THE MOVE!

2) Plan a trip.

Tulum, Mexico Myan Ruins

Choose a random but beautiful place in this big beautiful world and go there. Taking trips may seem out of reach financially for some of you but you would be surprised what you can afford with a few cutbacks in life. For Example: no more Starbucks during the week, just make coffee at home. Boom! You just saved $100 a month. By the end of the year you have plane tickets for two or a ticket for one and a hotel stay. $1200 is a paid off cruise, a trip to the east coast, a weekend getaway to wherever! Planning a trip does something inside of you, it lifts your spirits, and gives you something to look forward to. It is worth the daily sacrifices of non-essentials to feel the freedom of travel. Once you unlock this door you will want to spend every cent to leave your homestead. Traveling changes you. It allows you to see that the small town mentality is not the ways of the world. It allows you to see the kindness surrounding other places and it opens up doors to meeting unique and lovely strangers, cherishing moments and not things. We tend to be numbed by the media and busy life around us that we forget there are cultures we don’t know, beautiful places outside our home and workplace, billions of people to meet and so many memories and stories to add to our lives. When your life flashes before your eyes, think about what you will see. Where have you been? Where do you want to go?

3) What is your Grind?

Run towards your goals

My question to you is, what is the one thing that makes your heart skip a beat? The one thing you can do for yourself that no one else can? What is something you feel so passionately about that you are willing to grind for? Your job, your self image, your attitude, your marriage? We all have different priorities at different times in our lives. Some of us have changed the “what” many times. The goal and dream can change but the hard work and road to success does not. “The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately.” I suggest writing down your big goal, then underneath make a list of small goals that ultimately lead to the large goal. Remember to be realistic. The goal may take you 3 years but you need to have small goals set for 6 months to a year out. Small goals will assure you when times get rough that you are on the right path, keeping your motivation to hustle. Document, keep a journal or keep an excel spreadsheet of all things accomplished along the way. Numbers don’t lie. 2020 is the time to change and grow! You must grind, you must hustle and you must sacrifice to see a change. According to dictionary.com the definition of grind is “hard dull work.” How hard are you willing to work to achieve your goals? That answer only lies within you.

4) Self Love is Worth It

You have got to give up the negative self talk in 2020! No more! Throw it out with the past decade. To truly love yourself it starts in your mind, it starts with planting positive seeds and watering those seeds each and every day. The next time you are thinking about cutting your body, mind or self down, stop and think, ” Would I speak this way to someone I love?” Think about your daughter, mom, sister, anyone you love. We are so critical of ourselves that we don’t see the beauty in ourselves that others may see in us. You need to change that. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, by someone who loves you despite your flaws or mistakes. Self love begins on the inside, what you see and love about yourself will be reflected on the outside. Spending time alone, find a hobby that makes you happy, know that you are not alone. All woman must find themselves and in finding themselves fall in love with themselves. It is okay to value yourself so much that you do not let any one treat you badly. End the toxic relationships, end the self doubt and negative self talk! Forgive yourself for past mistakes. 2020 is your year to change your life and it all starts with you, your mind and your self-love.

5) Be Present in the Moment

Louisiana Sunrise

Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the fiery sunsets. Stop and listen to your children laughing in their bedrooms. Drop everything and kiss your spouse. Society has made us to feel like we always need to be busy. This is not true. It is okay to say in 2020, “You know what, I am taking Sundays off.” ” I am sorry but Wednesday nights are for family game night.” The only reason life is so busy is because we allow it to be. Your kids will be fine sitting out this activity so you’re not occupied 5 nights a week. Let them enjoy playing outside while you enjoy a glass of wine. Take time to read a book and put the kids to bed early. You have the power to slow down your agenda. It will not make you less of a person or parent. Enjoy what you have left of your children, your spouse and your time on this earth. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. What is it that you want to remember 20 years from now? Your busy schedule, the full color coded planner or the laughs, tears, and moments so preciously engraved in your heart. The time will pass quickly so choose wisely. 2020 is the year to slow down and enjoy the little things, the pretty places, the giggles, and the tasty sips of wine.

So what are my goals for 2020: Well I have a few and I would love to share with all of you. Personal goals: continue on this journey of self love. I want to talk the talk and walk the walk. I want to love myself at any weight, age and form. My 20s were literally crazy, I lost myself through many obstacles, mistakes and becoming a mother. My 30s will be happy, healthy, and full of self love. I will enjoy my kids, my husband and my business. I also plan on becoming more involved in my community. I want to volunteer more and serve others, I NEED to serve others more. I also want to empower other women. I want to show them that they are worthy and loved. That I have their back no matter what. Life is tough but I want each woman to come to know their own strength. I want other women to know that they are capable of beautiful relationships, conquering their goals and loving their self.

Business goals for 2020: I want to double the clients I served in 2019. I have grown so much in just one and half years of business and I do not plan on stopping. I will continue to learn, attend workshops, collaborate with local photographers and new photographers. I also want to specialize in Senior Portraits. Through photography I want to serve others. I want to do this by helping my clients better understand the value of beautiful, professional photography, prints and wall art. I believe everything old becomes new again. There is a lost generation out there who do not print their images and sadly may not have albums to share with their future children and grandchildren. It is my job to show my clients the value in tangible products. Our digital files are never safe from a crashing hard drive, lost jump drive, or internet glitches. So that being said my clients in 2020 can expect more wall art and albums in their homes.

Seniors 2019

Life is short, it is okay to take time for yourself, it is okay to stop and say, “I am taking a breather.” If you value yourself, your time and your happiness you can grow and reach goals this New Year and throughout the next decade. The only person holding you back is you. You have 2 weeks! Make a list, check it twice and come up with a plan of action. Put the naysayers behind you and believe in yourself. Work hard and the world is your oyster. Okay, I quit with the cliches and cheesy lines but it is all true! You got this. It is time to recreate the vision of yourself, your business, your relationship, anything you want. The time is now. New Year, New Decade, New Everything!

BeYoutiful.

Be Kind.

Be the Change.

Ashlee Bergeron

http://www.withallyourheartphotography.com

https://www.facebook.com/withallyourheartphotography/

Join With All Your Heart-Louisiana Lady Tribe for support and empowerment, click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/639979236515703/

How Mexico Made Me a Better Person and Photographer

Bacalar, Mexico

July seems like a lifetime ago compared to the whirlwind of the last 4 months of my busy beautiful life. Changing job paths in September, growing and enjoying a small business and being a wife and mother are only a few of my daily tasks since I landed back to reality only a few short months ago. So how did I end up traveling out of the country alone? In April, I stumbled upon a webpage for camera bags and happened to see that the owner puts together workshops in Mexico. I filled out an application to attend a once in a lifetime photography retreat in Tulum, Mexico with business woman extraordinaire, Maureen Flynn.All the while thinking I didn’t have a chance at all compared to many great photographers, I was just beginning my business journey and just a speck of dust in a huge universe of her followers. Well, needless to say when I received an email saying I was chosen for the trip, I was over the moon excited. My husband had his reservations but my heart knew this trip was calling to me, I knew my soul needed this chance and change. Oh, how right I was! I was no stranger to traveling alone for long trips or periods of time but it was also not completely in my comfort zone as I had only taken one long trip in my short life by myself. That trip was to Hawaii at 16, another once in a lifetime chance. I mustered up the courage, booked my tickets and followed the unknown to Mexico on faith and curiosity.


If I said, I was not a little nervous maybe even scared, that would make me a liar. And I am not a liar. Sometimes in life, we just have to jump, take crazy chances and do things completely out of our reality and comfort zone. This trip was IT, the life changing moment, a transition from my unpredictable 20’s to the stability(ironically) of my 30’s. Mexico meant meeting kind hearted strangers, drinking chia lattes for the first time, snorkeling through the darkness of caves and jumping into beautiful virgin cenotes. It also meant learning more about improving my craft, my imagery, my business and myself. So in what ways did traveling to Tulum, Mexico alone do to change my perspective on my life, my photography and my business? The list could honestly go on forever but I will keep it short and to the point.

CENOTE CHIKIN HA

1) Growth from Risk

There is something about hanging out with 12 strangers for a week and doing crazy, outrageous things you would have never imagined doing before. Snorkeling with beautiful fish, jumping into the freezing water of caves, diving through the unknown. Zip lining through the jungles of Playa de Carmen. The creative side of your brain just starts pumping with ideas and flowing with excitement. Personally, I grew from day 1-5 into the person that I have always aspired to be. I saw myself inside the other girls I met, their kindness, their courage, their business goals. Deep down inside of me the happy, excited about life, kind hearted little girl I once was started to emerge again. She started to remember that there was love to find in a dark world and maybe if you shined bright enough you could be the light that would bring kindness back, bring happiness to other people.

2) Women need Women

Meeting strangers that become more like family within 5 days changed my perspective on people and the kindness of the world. Women who support one another, empower one another and do not judge one another, do exist. At least 12 of them do. I learned that women are in need of support, we need other women on our side and in our corner. I am not sure when society started turning women against one another. Battles of status, parenting, body size, hair color, style, job status. Women who compete against one another then tear one another down. My one thought after this trip was, ” What if women were so content with themselves that they built each other up instead of tearing one another down, where would the world be?” This trip taught me that if perfect strangers can empower one another, love one another and show each other kindness, then what is stopping every other woman in the world from this mentality. I refuse to think that women don’t need one another. We do. I craved the kindness these women showed one another on this trip. I saw amazing hearts, love for the smallest of creatures, compassion for strangers. I will from here on out be the kindness the world needs, show compassion for each woman and their individual story. We all come from different backgrounds, struggles, pain and hurt but if we had each others backs then the world would no longer be allowed to dictate how we look, how we feel and what we are “supposed” to be in life. As women we have to come together and stop the division, the competition and crazy societal expectations. It is time to represent our self worth and treat one another as the worthy, badass and strong females we are.

3) Liberation of the Unknown

There is something insanely sweet about finding yourself, your brand, what you want your business to stand for when you do not have anything or anyone to rely on but yourself. Traveling a country away, the unfamiliar, meeting strangers, not knowing what thrill will come around the corner, helps you realize just how unimportant the problems of your every day life can be. It makes you come home and realize how petty and negative others can be.Traveling alone and feeling the excitement and energy of these beautiful souls shifted something inside of me, I discovered a light, a liberation, I never want to lose. I can no longer feed into negativity or misery. I learned that if a job, a person, or energy does not fill me with happiness I walk away. We are only stuck in life and filled with unhappiness if we allow ourselves to be. There will always be financial problems, unhappy issues to face, or negative people to deal with but how we react to these problems, how your attitude and peace are affected in adversity is what truly matters. Our inner peace should be harder to move than mountains if we truly know what we stand for, how we want to feel and if we are making moves in life to be at peace with our decisions and self worth. There will always be unhappiness and obstacles but I learned the foundation of my happiness is within myself.

4) Faith

My faith was strengthen from the time I applied for the Mexico workshop to the time I arrived there and back home, up to present day. God did not happen to have me stumble upon this opportunity, he knew it would serve great purpose for him. He knew my path would be set through this transition. Each lady I met, each risk I took, the business advice I would receive but especially the ripple effect it would have on my beliefs. Everything we do well is through the glory of the Lord. My photography is no different, when I chose my business name, I did so with Him in mind. Colossians 3:23. So why would this trip, this life altering event not be part of His great plan. He was there, I felt him through the kindness of the girls, the hearts who served him in Mexico, the beauty of the land and ocean. I felt him through the people there, the smiles, servitude, love for the water and jungles. They were some of the kindest people I have ever met and had so very little. Maureen showed her kindness to all of us but especially me. I was left in Mexico for two nights due to Tropical Storm Barry, she allowed me to stay in her beautiful home for free. We hung out and ate like two friends who knew each other forever, she opened her home to me and introduced me to her family and her heart. Tania the house manager became a friend for life, the language barrier being no trouble because we had so much in common and laughed, cried and talked about our different worlds. God does not work by accident, this trip in many ways has changed me but He does not do anything without bringing us closer to him. Failures, triumphs, pain, love they are all part of His grand design to get us to the Father. This trip allowed me to see the vulnerabilities strangers can share, the closeness of human connection and the kindness and love Jesus preached while on earth. No matter the beliefs of the 12 women I met, they loved like Jesus. This time of travel also strengthen my faith in humanity, do not be deceived the world is kind, there are still good people in this world. We just have to become the light to help outshine the darkness.

5) It is Okay to Not Be Okay

I went through a terrible depression when I got back from Mexico. I wanted life, work and every other issue I was facing to fall into place. I was also lost in a lot of feelings, I had never faced before. I was sad that my happiness may have ended in Mexico. I had all these feelings, thoughts and ideas and no where to put them, no outlet just a reality that I really did not care to face.I loved my marriage and my children but my every day purpose, job, career just was not fulfilling me any longer. I had prayed patiently for a year for the Lord to open doors. I needed to feel the fulfillment I felt in Mexico. I missed my girls, I missed the country side, and I missed the peace I felt when I was there. It may sound selfish but I had to work through the tools God had given me while there to map out the rest of my life. The human side of me wanted it all now. He kept whispering, “Sit back and wait.” 4 months later, I am working and I have worked through so much of this. Replaying my feelings and conversations with women like minded as me. Taking time for myself, changing job paths, working more hours towards my business and empire. It feels amazing, the peace, the kindness and encouragement I can pour into other women, the strength and faith that I have to change my course of life. I want to be part of the change in this world, the source for other women to turn to for empowerment and inspiration. The path I have walked has never been easy, many times making my life harder all on my own. I now wake up every morning knowing who I am and how hard I worked to get where I am today. It is the most powerful reminder of my strength and only possible with the good Lord behind me. I am thankful for a husband who rode this out with me, who still does not always understand my random need for change or travel but loves me anyway. A huge reasoning for success is a support system and he always without question shows me its okay to not be okay. He is my physical backbone and I preach a lot on women empowering women but he empowers me also.

Life changes us through struggles, through lessons of tough love, trust broken , abandonment , hate and deceit. But inside of each of us is that young innocent child, who knows deep inside the world is kind. Hurt does not have to last forever and dreams can be conquered. We have to change our own paths, pray for a way, and stick with those who support and love us enough to stand behind us as we chase our dreams. Mexico changed me, Tulum changed me. 12 girls changed me. Taking risk and loving every second of it, changed me. I am no longer the same person I was in my twenties, I am now happier, healthier and more successful than I ever thought I could be. It is all thanks to the path God has cleared for me, the struggles I have overcome and the wonderful support system he has laid beside me. You too can find your peace, your success and your happiness. My suggestion, a trip alone to meet up with 12 strangers in another country. Until then be kind. Show love and empower someone today.

Be Kind.

Be the change.

Ashlee Bergeron

Adding Value to your Self Worth

Remember when you were playing on the play ground in elementary school and one of your classmates said something mean to you. Remember the very first time you had your feelings hurt by a friend. The first time your crush was not that into you, your first break up. The first time someone you trusted, cut you so deep you stayed in bed for a week.

We all go through these growing pains in life. Some people more than others. Some hold onto the hurt longer than others. Some people never get over the pain of heartache at all. Emotional damage is heartbreak for a reason. As we grow and are hurt, we gather our self worth through the lens of others basing their perception of us on how much we love ourselves.

As we grow into adulthood if we PUSH hard enough those heartaches somehow become our strengths and one day after many tears and struggles, hurt and pain, we wake up. We realize that our life’s value should not be in someone else’s change jar. We realize that just maybe the hand we were dealt, the heartache we went through was to prepare us for a life of value, self love, and purpose. All the nights we prayed, pleaded and bargained with God. All the nights we cried in the shower to numb the pain of another relationship failed, abusive relationship, abandonment by someone we loved.

What if those heartaches, that pain is the part of the story that molded you, the clay. What if you were made to withstand the blazing fire that will keep you together. That will permanently make you into who you are supposed to be . The story you will tell the world when the fire has stopped burning and you are stronger than ever. What if all the sleepless nights are part of one huge plan and purpose for your life designed by someone who can see the finished product. “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8

The question is how? How do I find myself lost in the pain, lost in the heartache, self worth non-existent. My answer for you. You take every single minute, hour, and day to add value to yourself, it is time to repair your self worth. No longer should another persons words or thoughts about you stop you from loving yourself. I have compiled a list of my own experiences from my self-love journey. It is not easy. It is hard. It takes every day to battle my demons, those past voices of kids who called me names in school, past abandonment or unhealthy relationships. I am here to tell you it can be done. You deserve to love yourself, you are worthy.

1) You begin to talk kindly to yourself Show yourself love, grace and forgiveness. Speak to your seven year old self and tell her it will be okay, that one day she will be a strong example to others. Promise her that you will love yourself. Your beginning is not your end and all of those who have hurt you, that pain had nothing to do with you, the problem was within them this whole time. You can not carry those burdens and their pain any longer. Repeat to yourself daily: I am enough. I am worthy. I am loved.

2) Meditate, Pray, Spend time in nature: Nothing connects us to ourselves quite like nature and our minds. If you are not spiritual you can still find self love through meditation. Youtube has some great meditation videos. They take you away from the busy thoughts of your mind to help find peace within. Pray, find your spirituality. If you don’t know how to pray, just talk to God. He is listening and he will hear your cries. You can do either of these while outside during a walk or just sitting under the stars. There is something about nature that we find ourselves in. Maybe it is going back to our roots, slowing down time or just the fresh air and cool breeze.

3) Take a trip, alone There is nothing as liberating in the world as traveling alone. Start small with dinner by yourself, a weekend away. Then take off. Buy that plane ticket, show up, meet some nice locals, get dirty. Leave the past and say hello to the future you. The strong, bold, confident you!

4) Do not allow anyone to treat you disrespectfully, unkindly or cruelly. You must know in your heart that no one is allowed to call you names, curse at you, be unkind to you are even put their hands on you. If it does not make you happy, if it does not fulfill you, if it does not add value to your life, it is time to let it go. Leave, find support. KNOW YOUR WORTH. Is it easy? Not at all. But staying in an unfulfilling situation will not make your life any easier either.

5) Find your purpose and passion What is it that sets your soul on fire? What has she been called to do? Passion is a funny thing as it changes as we grow, as we figure out who we are and what we want to become. I know one thing is for sure though, we are not living a fulfilled life without purpose. Passion fuels our purpose. Find yours. FIND IT. Try new things, learn new things, pick up hobbies, create, read , love, fuel your hunger for whatever it is your heart desires. Purpose and passion fill us with self-worth.

Piece by piece you will become that 7 year old girl again. Before the pain and heartache. She is inside of you waiting for you to heal so that you can find her again and fill her with the love that the world tried to take away. The little girl who wants to be kind despite the heartache or damage. Find her. Give her a second chance at life. We can’t change the past but we can still change how we see ourselves in the future! You are worthy. You are enough.

Be Kind.

Be the change.

Ashlee Bergeron