Meet Ashley Rostad


Meet Ashley Rostad. An incredibly big-hearted and loving creator, friend and partner! Based on Madison, she is the type of person who looks to make a difference and is committed to the things she believes in both as a professional and individual. She has been a driving force in the #ReclaimBeauty project since its inception and has been an integral part in taking this project from an idea to a movement. You will find her more often than not behind the camera, helping us capture the visual beauty of our warriors all throughout the Madison community.

Where did your creative journey start?

If you ask my mother, my creative journey started at 2 when I decided to use butter to paint on the windows.  I was always pushing the envelope, so to speak.  Cutting my own hair, playing with makeup, dressing up.  I always had a wildly vivid imagination and loved to play on my own, making up stories, playing pretend and living in worlds where I could do and be whatever I wanted.  From there, I learned I loved to draw and create, anything that let me work with my hands.

How did you get into this work?

My parents get a lot of credit for me ending up falling in love with photography.  Growing up, my parents were surprisingly ahead of the game when it came to cameras/video recorders.  My dad would always record my brother and I during our sporting events, so when we were at my brother’s games I always wanted to be behind the video camera.  My mom was always photographing life events, so I have a lot of early memories of looking through old photos, which then grew into always wanting to create photographs.  I got my first camera just before middle school, and was instantly in love.  I really got started in actively shooting in high school when I joined the school paper as one of the photographers, and then when I got my first job after high school at a local portrait studio.  I’ve been shooting, off and on, ever since then.

What made you want to be a part of the #ReclaimBeauty project?

I loved the #ReclaimBeauty project from the moment I saw it.  I have a very sensitive spirit, and we’ve become a society of harsh judgement and criticism, often times excessively.  I love this project for the kindness that it brings out, especially kindness towards ourselves.  It’s so easy to trash talk your own body, your own personality, and this project really emphasizes the importance of applying grace to yourself:  You don’t have to be perfect, if you feel like you’re perfect or need minimal improvements, that’s ok too!  You don’t have to be defined by outside standards.  When you see other people’s photos, when you hear their stories, it’s really easy to be compassionate towards them, to relate to them, and to see REAL people.  The more we see those examples, the more we encourage and uplift one another, the easier it is to encourage and uplift ourselves.

What is special to you about photography?

There have been many a night sitting around a dining room table, or huddled on the living room floor with family, laughing till our sides ache or with tears of sadness rolling down our faces.  Photographs are irreplaceable.  Memories change, they falter, but with photography, I get to freeze time.  I get to capture people doing life, loving on one another.  The way mom’s nose wrinkles when she laughs, the way a brother stares at his new little sister as she sleeps, I’m contributing to future memories of late nights paging through an album and remembering “the good times.”  That is immeasurable.

What makes you different/unique as a photographer?

I am the absolute last person you should ask this question of, but based on what other people say, the feedback I’ve been given from my clients, I would say it’s my ability to connect with people and understand who they are in a short amount of time.  When I meet a client for the first time, I don’t get know their life story off the bat, and I don’t always have a chance to get to know much about them before a session.  I have to be able to connect with people and make them feel comfortable enough to open up to a, for all intents and purposes, stranger - and in front of a camera at that.  Every session that I have, every client is important to me, and at the end of the day, my goal is to capture the essence of who they are.

How can people learn more about your work or get connected with you?

I love connecting!  I’m on most all social media platforms or you can email me.  I love to meet friends and collaborate with new people.



Instagram handle: black.waterstudios