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    What I’m Loving + Favorite Photos // June 2017

    Hey everyone! I’m so thankful and excited by the overwhelmingly positive response I received last week on the official launch of Ashley Karlen Photography. Starting a photography business has been a dream of mine since college. I’m super excited to see what’s ahead. On to today’s fun stuff!

    If you’ve been around my page for a bit, you know that I absolutely love sharing about the things that I am currently loving. I’ve done this every couple of months since I started blogging again. You can read those here and here. While I still love sharing about the things I am loving, I wanted to spice things up. Every month from now on, I’ll be sharing things I love, am exploring, am curious about and many other things. The fun thing is I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite photos I took during that month. Are you ready!? I am!

    What I’m Loving

    DISCOVERING the library and the depth of it has been amazing. I absolutely love books and can’t stray away from a good book sale to save my life. This has really cut down on those books that I really want to read but don’t really need to buy. Plus, I’ve found that I absolutely love listening to fiction like this or this on audiobook. I love highlighting and taking notes so I’d much rather hold a non-fiction book in my hand.

    ENJOYING time on our back porch sitting in our camping chairs, relaxing and sometimes even building a fire. Yes, we live in Houston. Yes, it’s hot outside. Even with the heat, we’ve started a fire in our fire pit and spent an evening discussing life around the fire and roasted some s’mores.

    ADORING the lifestyle and community ideas from The Turquoise Table. Rick and I are already dreaming of our next home and how we can implement the ideas in this book to get to know our new neighbors and start building a community there. It’s made me start dreaming of fun little things to take out to my future table like this pitcher or these plastic cups. I just absolutely love the colors of those cups.

    PRETENDING I’m at the spa with this luxurious face mask. It smells so ridiculously wonderful in the morning.

    RICK’S RECOMMENDING the sous vide cooker. Rick has seriously recommended this immersion cooker to multiple people in the same day. I will say that this gadget is pretty nifty. It’s a great meal prep tool that you can set and leave which I’m always a fan of. The absolute best brisket I may have ever had in my entire life was cooked in this just a few days ago. (See below for the brisket picture.)

    PLANNING lots of vacation days in the next couple of months. Who has any fun ideas for San Antonio, Waco or Costa Rica? Later this fall, we’ll be looking for a great little bed and breakfast either around the Houston area or not too far away for a little couple’s getaway. Post all your must sees and great spots in the comments.

    GRATEFUL for the friends and family who have constantly encouraged me, stuck by my side and helped launch me into this new season of life.

    Favorite June Photos


    The Special Announcement Is Here!

    A few days ago I posted on Ashley Karlen Photography that I had some exciting news to share this morning. I totally do. We’ll get to that in a few minutes though. I know. I’m not always the best with waiting so feel free to scroll down and come back up here. I totally get it. I’ll even wait…..

    Relieved that you finally know? Great! This past year of learning the path to being brave and starting out on that adventure has been such an exciting one so far. I’ve rediscovered things about myself that are so cool and yet I’d completely forgotten about them with the hustle and bustle of the last few years. One of those things has definitely been my love of photography. It’s been a long time coming, but getting back into the groove of photography has been so soothing to my soul. I feel like I’ve regained a part of me that has been missing for years. It’s been so life giving in a way that I could have never imagined.

    I want you to know today that if you’ve lost a hobby, a relationship or something close to your heart over the past few years, you can recapture it. It may not look like my journey to being brave. In fact, it probably won’t. What matters is that if there’s something stirring in your heart whether it’s a creative endeavor, a pull to a simpler life or taking on a new task that you’ve previously placed in the ‘that’s scary and so not for me’ category of life, it’s okay. You can totally do it.

    Put on your brave today and step towards it. Baby steps are totally fine. I’ve baby stepped, stumbled, fallen and gotten up again on this journey. The beauty of that is that with each baby step forward, I can see his grace pushing me and leading the way. God will be there, right beside you to pick you up and brush you off just like the good father he has promised us He is. Put on your bravery, step out and pursue what God is calling you to do no matter where or what He’s leading us to. From my own experience, I think you’ll regret not doing it sooner.

    What’s the news already!?

    I’m so glad you asked! I know a few of you posted on the Ashley Karlen Photography Facebook page that you’re hoping for a pregnancy announcement. Sorry to disappoint. But that’s not what’s about to happen here today. Believe me, Rick’s smile would be much bigger than it is in that first photo! Now we truly know how excited our family and friends would be to find out that news though! If you got all psyched up in anticipation of a baby announcement, rest in knowing that our family has grown recently from Rick, myself and our wedding tree, Charlie, to include a little cactus named Sue. Cactus Sue loves sitting in the sun and enjoys summer just as much as I do.

    We’re super excited to celebrate summer with you! Ashley Karlen Photography is offering a special summer rate of $75 sessions through July 31. Any portrait session is available. There’s so many possibilities for these sessions from portraits of your little kids, getting ahead of the rush to have your family photos ready for Christmas cards or just a few nice headshots for your dating profile. [This special summer rate doesn’t apply to weddings or events, but I’d still be interested in doing those for you.] I would love to hang out with you and have a fun summer session too. Interested!? Click here to send me information so we can set up a session today! Click here to see some past sessions.

    Sunanda // Graduation Session

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    Meet my friend, Sunanda! It’s hard to pinpoint my earliest memory of my friendship with Sunanda. I’m pretty certain that it revolved around 6th grade and the lunch table. Oh, those days of junior high! Days that will either forge a friendship or destroy it. Luckily, ours was a friendship that was created and strengthened during that time.

    Sunanda is one of the sweetest people I know. She’s proven time and time again to be a faithful friend, always up for a bowl of pasta or a zumba session. An encourager during both the joyous and the hard life moments. A incredibly hard worker that doesn’t back down, even in the face of challenges. She’s someone you want in your court.

    I absolutely adored doing this graduation session with Sunanda. Being able to capture her laughter was a delight. Seriously, I love it when she gets the giggles. I’m so glad I was able to get her to giggle during our time together. There’s nothing better as a photographer than feeling like you’ve been able to accurately capture who someone is. I also absolutely love the photo where she is stoically looking out to her future (or the distance at least). I love the fierceness of it. It’s such an awesome array of who this sweet friend is.

    Thank you dear friend for allowing me to photograph this moment in your life. Also, a special thanks to your mom who graciously drove us, carried stuff for us, and encouraged us during the entire shoot. Her words hit upon my heart in such a wonderful way causing this to possibly be one of my favorite shoots ever.

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    sunanda 2017 college graduation senior portrait photography session // ashley karlen photography

    Sunanda, I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!

    To Sunanda and the rest of the 2017 graduates, well done and congratulations!



    Nick + Hanna // Maternity Session

    I’m not sure when I first met Hanna. It seems like I just turned around one day and there she was, right by my side. We’ve weathered some great times and some terrible storms together. I’ll never forget the joy of moving into our very first place on our own – the college dorms at Texas A&M University. She was the best of roommates. She’s one of the sweetest, most caring, thoughtful, driven and beautiful people I’ve ever known. I am so thankful that we became friends in high school and that years later, we’re enjoying new seasons of life that our little high school selves could never have imagined.

    Three years ago, I had the privilege of watching this girl marry the love of her life, our high school classmate, Nick. Hanna was the second of my closest friends to be married. The night was perfect with her family’s Ukranian traditions sprinkled throughout the wedding ceremony and reception. They are wonderful friends to both celebrate and to celebrate with. It’s been a joy these past several years to watch them love and support each other.

    The birth of their marriage was a new beginning for them and just a tiny step in leading us to today – Hanna’s pregnancy. I can’t imagine a better set of parents for a little boy. Andrew is extra lucky with the jackpot of getting to call these two Mommy and Daddy. Andrew’s been with us for a little while now, even though I’m just now posting these maternity photos. Hanna is definitely a natural and is glowing in her new role as a mother. Baby Andrew is adorable as can be.

    A Prayer for this New Family

    God, I pray for baby Andrew to grow into a courageous, daring man of God after your own heart. I pray that as he grows and life changes with him, that he will be grounded in you. Lord, I pray that when seas are calm, he will know he is by your side and on the days and seasons where the seas are more tumultuous, I pray that he will know that you are protecting him in your loving arms. I pray for these new parents, Nick and Hanna, that they will look to you and your word for guidance as they parent baby Andrew, and that their family and friends will surround them all of their days. I pray that you use Nick and Hanna to show Andrew what it looks like to live a life that glorifies you. Lord, protect these sweet friends of mine as they weather this new season together with all its unknowns. Show them you in the midst of everything. Amen. 

    I absolutely love this shot. It tells me that Hanna is not only ready for motherhood but ready to conquer the world. I love the fierce determination in her eyes.

    Go forth and conquer mommyhood, my friend!


    Meet My Friend Sara K!

    Meet my friend Sara K, a graduating senior at A&M Consolidated! There is so much to say about this lovely lady! She is just wonderful. Her passion and heart for missions is inspiring, she loves deeply and has a contagious laugh. I’ve loved getting to know her from church and seeing her grow these last few years.

    I’m extremely excited to see where the Lord is going to take her as she steps into this next stage of life. Love you, Sara!


    I have redesigned my joyephotography website and wanted to show it to y’all.  I hope y’all enjoy it. It needs a lot more updated photos, but I wanted to get it up and running again. Let me know any feedback y’all have!

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    It’s been about a month since I’ve been back from studying abroad in Costa Rica with the Quiocho Family. Being back is still extremely weird to me on many different levels. A lot of things have happened in the last few weeks. I’ve gone back to college and begun trying to readjust back into my ‘old’ life. It doesn’t seem to  really be fitting back together. I’m in a major period of transition from college kid to adult and I’m not a fan of this change at all. Also, I am completely lost as to where my life is leading to say the least.

    I realized that I never finished updating my pictures from Costa Rica. In addition to that I have become a slacker on my Project 365 as I have become incredibly horrible at remembering to take photos over this past month. I’m not sure why exactly that my photo taking has decreased, but it is finally starting to increase back up to the daily photo which is good. I’m guessing that the slacking is probably due to a lack of desire, which is what I seem to have for many things that are happening around me right now…

     twohundredandseventeen. unseenbeauty: colorwaitingtohappen.

     twohundredandeighteen. unseenbeauty: beingabletoseevolcanoarenalfrommyroom.

     twohundredandnineteen. unseenbeauty: vacationdayswithfriendsthatarenowfamily.

     twohundredandtwenty through twohundredandtwentytwo. Sad no photo days.

     twohundredandtwentythree. unseenbeauty: smilingisalovelanguagefromtheLord.

     twohundredandtwentythreecontinued. unseenbeauty: thepoweroffriendships.

    twohundredandtwentyfour. unseenbeauty: tearsareauniversallyunderstoodlanguage.

    twohundredandtwentyfive through twohundredandthirtythree. Sad no photo days.

    twohundredandthirtyfour. unseenbeauty: beinghomeandenjoyingfamilylifetogether.
    twohundredandthirtyfive through twohundredandthirtyseven. Sad no photo days.

    twohundredandthirtyeight. unseenbeauty: timeisplentiful.

    twohundredandthirtynine. unseenbeauty: sweetfunnyClydeboy.
    twohundredandforty through twohundredandfortytwo. Sad no photo days.

    twohundredandfortythree. unseenbeauty: greatfacialexpressions.

     twohundredandfortyfour. unseenbeauty: learningtoenjoysalads.

     twohundredandfortyfive. unseenbeauty: deathtotheoldlife.
     twohundredandfortysix. Sad no photo day.

    twohundredandfortyseven. unseenbeauty: beingbackatcollege.

     twohundredandfortyeight. unseenbeauty: havingpeopleandsituationstomiss.

     twohundredandfortynine. unseenbeauty: knowingthattearswillcomeanditwillbeokay.

     twohundredandfifty. unseenbeauty: confusionandblurrinessinlifeisnotthewholereality.
    twohundredandfifyone through twohundredandfiftysix. Sad no photo days.

     twohundredandfiftyseven. unseenbeauty: learninghowtoimprovise.

     twohundredandfiftyeight. unseenbeauty: experimentingwithnewrecipes.

     twohundredandfiftyeightcontinued. unseenbeauty: gettingreallygoodatbaking.
    twohundredandfifynine. Sad no photo day.

    twohundredandsixty. unseenbeauty: obtainingthatmuchcovetedaggiering.