Soul Is: Ashley Benham Photography

At We Are Memphis, we’re all inspiring others to bring and share their souls with the city. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to start a new local business, a musician who’s ready to rock out with some of the best artists in the world, or a creative with an eye for capturing your unique perspective, we’re here to inspire you to be your most authentic self. Memphis’ Soul can’t be defined with just a few words. Soul is change, innovation, ingenuity, creativity, and so much more. 

If you’ve seen our latest billboards around town, you’ll see photos from some of Memphis’ photographers. From families and couples to artists and activists, all of these moments embody that iconic Memphis Soul. 

Want to learn more about the creative behind the lens? Keep reading! 

What inspired you to be a photographer?

Photography has always interested me, even as a kid. I would steal the disposable cameras my parents bought and take photos of everything I could. I joined the yearbook staff as a freshman in high school and fell in love with photography and documenting people and events. I owe so much to my parents for supporting my dream when I found my passion. My dad bought me my first DSLR camera when I was 13 years old and the rest is history. I went to school to pursue photography and fell in love with it all over again. I started my own business in 2014 and never looked back!

What inspires you to capture Memphis and Memphians the way you do? 

The art, the people, the culture, the history! Ugh. Can Memphis itself be its own inspiration? The art in this city is just amazing. My clients and Memphis makes it easy! I always want my clients’ personalities to shine through with amazing Memphis backgrounds. We’re just hard-working, blue collar people but don’t think we can’t look good in front of a camera when the time comes. We’re beautiful people in a beautiful city and I want to capture it all.

How do you put your soul into your work? What do you hope others take away from it? 

Photographs are so important to me. You should be able to look at a photograph you’re in and instantly remember how you felt when that shutter snapped and you were frozen in time. Whether it’s a couple capturing their love for one another, or a teenager days away from graduating high school, my job is to make them remember and look back fondly. Having that responsibility and that need makes me put my absolute best into every shoot I do. I hope clients look back at their photos and remember exactly how they felt and how beautiful that moment was. I hope others can look at my work and say, “Dang, she really helped bring out their happiness and for those moments in between camera clicks she made them feel like a star.”

Share your favorite moment during the shoot that resulted in the picture we’re sharing

I loved photographing Mauricus + Jonathan! They made it so easy! They wanted to document their time together and love for each other during the pandemic, to also announce their wedding plans are still on! Honestly, them being so in love made everything about the shoot my favorite moment. Just imagine facing the pandemic and still trying to plan a wedding. I can’t even. Only the truest of love could propel these two through this, and I think I did well at capturing that love for them.

How has Memphis allowed you to come into your own as an artist? What advice do you have for other up-and-coming artists? 

Memphis has shaped me as a human and an artist. Being around all the history and art led me to be the artist I am today. To all up-and-coming artists, don’t give up. Our Grizzlies were a grit-and-grind team and you should be, too! Seek new inspiration. Be yourself. Never stop exploring your city to find new art and inspiration. Love your city and I promise it’ll love you back.

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