Success to Me

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but just haven’t found the right words to express what I want to say. I’m hoping by dumping the words out of my brain and onto this page, it will somehow come together and make sense! 😉 

When I first started my business, one of the wisest things I heard was to define what success meant for me and my business. I used to think that my end goal for my business was to become “full time.” I would see all of these other photographers sharing their triumphs of leaving their 9-5 job and starting the journey into the world of full-time photography. I thought that’s what I wanted too. I could not wait for that to be me. 

The years went on and I went from having a part-time job at a preschool to a full-time job. My first year of having a full-time job, was also my first year of having 19 weddings. To me, that was equal to two full-time jobs. I worked at a preschool full time for 2 years. I finally had to leave after my preschool schedule started to conflict with my weddings and I wasn’t able to get off for a day when I had a wedding. “This was it”, I thought. I was finally there. 

I went back to the first preschool I worked at and was able to work mornings and have a more flexible schedule. It helped tremendously. That first year back I was also planning a wedding (which felt like a full-time job in itself hahaha) and still just as busy with my photography business too. I loved how I dedicated my mornings to my preschool class and my afternoons and weekends to my business. One step closer to being full time. One step closer to being successful. 

During that time I started to really reflect on what success meant to me. I was finally at the point in my business where I could depend solely on my photography to survive. It was time to take the leap. So why couldn’t I? Throughout these past few years, not only has photography been a huge part of my life, kids have been as well. I LOVE kids. I am a kid at heart, so being around them feels so freeing. Why did I want to leave that? 

After a lot of thinking and praying, I made my choice. I decided to define what success really meant to me. Was I basing my view of success on someone else’s? Did they have the same goals as me? I really had to do some soul searching and find out what was important to me and where I thought God wanted me. 

So… what is success to me? Well, success is being happy and content with your life. I am happy teaching preschool in the mornings. I am ecstatic to spend time with the sweetest three-year-old kids and make them laugh. I love bonding with them! But I also LOVE my brides and grooms and the sweet clients I have the honor of photographing! I get so much joy being a part of their wedding experience and sessions! Photography is such a fun adventure. I wouldn’t want to do anything else! I’m so thankful I get to do two things I am so passionate about every single day! It’s such a blessing and I pray I never take it for granted. 

What have I learned about success? Success is ever-changing. It can mean different things at different points in your life and that’s okay. You decide what success means to you. Not anyone else.  You have to find what works best for you and that’s it. What works now, might not work later down the road, but it’s what is the best choice for you. I’m so happy I didn’t let someone else’s version of success distract me from my own success. It’s definitely challenging at times when I see what someone else’s success looks like, but I have to have peace and know that each of us are called to our own paths for a reason. God has me right where He wants me. And it’s a beautiful place to be! 🙂  

P.S. If you made it through this whole post, kudos to you and thanks for taking the time to read what’s inside my heart! 

virginia wedding photographer


  • What a beautiful post, Ashley! Everyone defines success differently. If what you’re doing works for you, that’s awesome! I’ve been thinking along these same lines as well, considering that we’re planning to start our family in a year or so. Will I be happy staying home? I’m not sure. Time will tell!

  • I love this & am right there with you!!!! What a GREAT thing it is to have many passions!!!

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I’M  Ashley

a Richmond, Virginia WEDDING & PORTRAIT Photographer

I’m Virginia Ashley, but my friends just call me Ashley! I’m a wedding photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. Even though I live in RVA, I travel all over for photography, which is awesome because I LOVE to travel! I’ve been as far as California and have my passport burning a hole in my pocket!

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