Achieving the Bohemian Portrait

December 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Achieving the Bohemian Portrait

 

A popular style of photography – and one of my favorites – is the bohemian style of portraiture.  This type of photography is defined by more than just the clothing style.  Dictionary.com defines “bohemian” as; “living a wandering or vagabond life, as a Gypsy,” and as a person who “lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.”  The goal of Bohemian-style photography is to convey this free-spirited feeling.  The many factors you can consider to help achieve this look include lighting, pose, setting, movement, and facial expression.  Today we’ll discuss things photographers and models can do to make this look a success.

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images – IG: @ashleybeloat
Photographer: Tami Keehn – www.tamariephotography.com – IG: @tamikeehn
Hair & Makeup Artistry: Lauren DeCosimo – www.pinnedandproper.com – IG: @laurendecosimo
Bouquet & Headpiece: Emma’s Flowers of West Melbourne – stores.emmasflowers.us
Dress: Free People – www.freepeople.com – IG: @freepeople

Behind the Lens

                  Photographers, your planning begins with location choice.  This style of portraiture thrives on settings in nature – particularly wide and open spaces where your model has the freedom to move around.  Trees are wonderful, but you may also want to choose a place where the overgrowth isn’t too thick to allow natural light through.  The important thing is that the setting you choose communicates that of being a free spirit – whatever that means to you.

Next, when selecting your model, choose somebody who will be comfortable enough to move around. Nothing says “freedom” like hair flowing in the breeze, fabric lifting into the air during a spin, or dancing blissfully through an open field. If you don’t know the model well, suggest she bring a friend or family member due to the likely isolated nature of the location. This will promote her comfort on-set and help her relax for the photos.

If you will be using a hair and makeup artist, be sure to instruct them to choose earth-toned pigments and give the model a natural glow. The hairstyle shouldn’t be too stiff and should allow some form of movement. You can also ask the makeup artist to give a nice sunkissed bronzing and highlight to accentuate the natural light.

Speaking of natural light, this is a tool you can really experiment with in your interpretation of the bohemian style.  Sunset is a very magical time to shoot this concept because of the lovely honey golds in the sky.  You can position the model behind the light and cast unique shadows across her face for a more mysterious look, or you can have her turn so she is in front of the light for a dreamy backlit scene. Play around and see what appeals to you.

Lastly comes color choice. Just as the makeup, earth-tones and warm colors will help greatly in achieving this look. Instruct your boutique or model to provide clothing with this color palette to accentuate the nature being captured in the scene. When editing your captures in post-production, keep in mind that warm tones may embrace the style better than cool tones.  But once again, the important thing is that you artistically interpret what “free spirit” means to you in your images.

 

In Front of the Camera

Models, decide in your head what the words “freedom” and “free spirit” mean to you. Keep this definition in mind throughout the planning and shooting process.  Let them guide your artistic decisions when the photographer gives you creative freedom.  It’s important to know what these things mean to you before showing up on-set so that you can better communicate with your body language and expressions.

If you will be supplying the clothing for the shoot, make sure to choose light airy pieces with every outfit. The goal is to not look/feel too stiff or rigid in the final photos, so pieces that show movement well are the best bet. When choosing jewelry, you can opt for thin and layered pieces, numerous small rings, layered bangles, feathers, or pieces made of wood.  Accessories are a great way to have fun with this look!  You can also go completely natural and skip the accessories.  Discuss this with your photographer and at the very least, bring a few options just in case.

When posing, be prepared to have fun and possibly get a little dirty.  You’re most likely going to be out in the elements a bit, possibly even asked to go wading in a stream. No matter what you are asked to do, remember to keep a relaxed posture and keep your movements fluid.  It’s a good rule of thumb to keep this style appearing effortless and weightless as opposed to stiff and over-posed.  Give a good spin and let your hair/garments fly, let the breeze blow your hair slightly in front of your face, gently brush the tall grass with your hands, interact with your surroundings – do whatever creative things come to mind when you’re given the opportunity to pose yourself.

Keep your facial expressions soft and dreamlike. You may want to try to avoid facial tension as this could take away from the relaxed, free feeling of the photos. Remember that the goal in this style of photography is for everything in the frame to harmonize well and flow together.  Let your body language and expressions go well with – not conflict with – your surroundings. Ask your photographer for feedback and let them help guide you with your body language and the softness of your features.

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images – IG: @ashleybeloat
Photographer: Tami Keehn – www.tamariephotography.com – IG: @tamikeehn
Hair & Makeup Artistry: Lauren DeCosimo – www.pinnedandproper.com – IG: @laurendecosimo
Bouquet & Headpiece: Emma’s Flowers of West Melbourne – stores.emmasflowers.us
Dress: Free People – www.freepeople.com – IG: @freepeople

What are some of your strategies when attempting a Bohemian-style shot?  What does “free-spirited” mean to you?  How would you artistically translate this into a photo?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

Until next week,

~Ashley BeLoat

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Perfecting the Runway Walk

December 6, 2017 | 2 Comments

Throughout my modeling career I’ve been blessed to walk various runways for some of my favorite local designers.  I also recently participated in a modeling segment on live TV for my designer and dear friend Inna Rudenko.  There is still so much for me to learn and improve, but the secrets I’ve learned thus far have proven themselves invaluable. I am so excited to share with you my tips and tricks for improving your runway technique!

Prepare Before the Show

Make a habit of doing balance-enhancing exercises such as yoga. This is one of the best ways you can prepare for your runway walk (and complicated poses for photoshoots).  You never know when you will be given an asymmetrical outfit to wear, something with a tendency to weigh more on a certain side, or a skirt that requires kicking to walk in. The goal of eveningwear and bridal runway walks is to make the outfit appear as if it’s gliding down the walkway.  Ideally, your movements should appear fluid and effortless. Any time you are able to build your core strength, body awareness, and movement control will be an investment in a graceful, calculated walk.

Practice!!  Practice at home, backstage, in the grocery store… Practice whenever you can.  Whenever I find myself in heels and am faced with a straight pathway I will often nonchalantly sneak in a stretch or two of practice.  It may feel silly when people are watching, but it will make the crowds and flashing lights seem less intimidating when on-stage.

 

Start With the Right Shoes

Make sure you have sufficient shoes. Once before I made the mistake of wearing shoes that – while beautiful – made some nasty cuts/blisters by the time it came to walk the runway. Every step was painful…it was a major learning experience.

My runway experience has always included bridal gowns and eveningwear.  This means that I’ve always been in long skirts – some full and princess-style, some A-line, some mermaid-cut… The important thing to know about long skirts is that it’s usually frowned upon to carry the dress as you walk. Why is this important in shoe selection?  You want to choose shoes that give you enough height so that you are not tripping on the skirt as you walk. The shoes I wear are now a minimum of 6 inches tall. This usually allows me to step with minimal kicking and pull-back to avoid stepping on the hem.  Wearing this height of heel can be very risky when walking on a foreign surface, which is why it’s important to…

Ensure your shoes have a strap of some sort for extra support. If you’re able to get shoes with an ankle strap, it will save you so much worry.  You’ll be able to step with confidence and know that your foot won’t slip out of the shoe mid-step.

Also, try to find shoes with as wide of a heel base as possible. While the slim heels are definitely attractive and fashionable, I advise a wider heel base for beginners.  See if some of the height can be added by a platform at the portion of the shoe that supports the ball of your foot. This will give you additional height without walking more on your toes.

 

Tailor Your Walk to the Garment

                  It’s very important to be aware of the features of every garment you are given to wear.  Every piece should have the unique features highlighted as you walk and pose.  Does the outfit have pockets?  Use them in one of your poses.  Is there a lovely train on the back of the dress?  Make sure it falls nicely and is visible by the cameras when you stop for pictures.  Is there a piece that is detachable?  Practice detaching it and carrying it the rest of the way off-stage.

You can also let the style of the outfit guide your body language and expressions as you walk.  Does the ensemble demand more elegance, confidence, gracefulness, or strength?  Aim to be a reflection of the piece you are wearing.

I can’t stress the importance of practicing as much as you can backstage.  Familiarize yourself with the way the fabric flows.  Make yourself aware of any challenges each piece provides; tight and uncomfortable boning, an immense amount of tulle you need to maneuver as you step, a loose neckline that may fall if you exhale too much… Know what you will need to do to make the piece look it’s best on the stage.

 

Consult with the Designer

                  Every designer is different when it comes to their vision for the showing of their collection.  I always ask the designer what mood they want to set on the stage.  Some have told me to smile, others have told me to keep a straight face. I also ask their inspiration for the specific piece I’m given to wear, so that I may better personify what they want the garment to be.   Sometimes things are hectic backstage and you aren’t able to have a full discussion, but seize whatever moments you can in preparation and/or fittings to get on the same page with your designer.

Timing

                  This is another subjective area. Some designers want their collection to be shown at a slower tempo, whereas others prefer a more confident, marching approach. Sometimes the pace at which you’re instructed to walk is different from the music the show has selected to play.  Keep this in mind as you take every step.

Also pay attention to the other models.  Make sure you start your walk at the appropriate time in relation to the model ahead of you (the designer will usually instruct you on when this moment is to be), and hold your poses for the desired time as well. It’s easy to become nervous and try to complete your walk as quickly as possible, but take a deep breath…  Relax as best you can.  It always helps me to think to myself; “They aren’t looking at me, they’re looking at the dress.”

 

Posing

                  This is an area I’m still working on as well.  Posing for runway is far different from posing for regular photos in a photoshoot.  Try to keep your arms from obstructing the view of the dress as much as possible.  I’m still training myself to walk with minimal arm movement and maintain the negative space between my arms and body. Try to provide views of the front, side, and back when possible. Give each pose a few seconds to provide adequate time for the photographers to snap, and be mindful of the angles they are shooting from so that you can provide the most flattering poses possible.
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And there you have it!  This is what I’ve learned in my runway experience thus far.  I can’t wait to learn more and perfect my walk, and I hope my list of tips and secrets helps you on this journey as well!

What strategies do you use when walking down the runway?  What questions and stories do you have?  Let me know in the comments below!

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images – IG: @ashleybeloat

Photographer: Eric Kinney – www.erickinneyphotography.com – IG: @ekinneymedia

 

Until next week,

~Ashley BeLoat

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Creating a Commercial Photo

November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Every now and then I’ll look at an edit and think to myself; “This could be an ad!”  But what really constitutes an ad, anyway?  What makes a photo ad or commercial-quality?  What in particular can take portrait photography to this new level?

 

The purpose of a commercial photo is to sell or promote something. To name only a few examples, you may be given the task of selling a dress, necklace, vacation destination, service, or perfume.  Sometimes the object of advertisement is visible in the photo, other times it isn’t.  Regardless, you still have the challenge of highlighting a person/object/place and making it appear desirable to your viewing audience.  Let’s talk about some ways this is done.

Incorporating the Object, Person, or Place

                  Simply put—show what is advertised.  Magazines are full of spreads where a model is splashing her face with water and a facial cleanser bottle is composited into the image.  Or, the model could be photographed walking up a set of steps in heeled boots for a footwear company advertisement.   The camera can be zoomed into the product, or offering a wider view of an entire scene.   Depending on the creative vision, the object may or may not be the main focus of the frame.  If you decide to use the object as small part of the total scene, it’s important that everything about the overall image is somehow telling the story and purpose of the product and brand.

 

Convey the Feeling You Want Associated with the Product

Is the campaign for an energy supplement?  The overall feel of the photo should exude energy.  Is the advertisement for a spa?  The overall tone should exude tranquility.  Be mindful of the message you are sending through color choices, the models’ posing styles, and lighting. Know the subconscious connotations every detail of your photo is sending.  Ideally, all of these little details should highlight the features, brand, and purpose of the product.

 

Modeling Tips

                  Now for my area of expertise…posing. I remember one particular studio session where I was posing for a new photographer.  The photographer instructed me to “sell him the dress,” and I began playing with the skirt while striking catalogue poses.  Next, he told me to “sell him the necklace.”  My neck lengthened, I used my hands to delicately graze the jewels, and I provided my best angled jawline. Lastly, he told me to “sell him a whitening toothpaste,” and I instantly began beaming a wide, happy smile.  This was such an excellent exercise, and I’m thankful he directed me this way.
This is how you should think as the model promoting a product.  While you want to look good in the image, this shouldn’t be your only goal.  The overall goal of a commercial image is to make the product look good. Even if you are wearing the product you don’t want to outshine it, you want to highlight it.

The first step to doing this is to research the product and brand you will be representing.  Know the company’s slogans and let this influence your expressions/poses in front of the camera.  If they have a slogan like; “Let the adventure begin,” (copyright of Gumbie’s footwear) you may want to look excited, energetic, and like you are trying something new.  Look up their past ad campaigns so you can get a feel for how they like their brand represented. The more knowledge you have of the product, the better able you will be to make it look good on-camera.

Here are some of my own examples of ads I’ve been able to do…

 

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/ – IG: @ashleybeloat

Designer: Inna’s Designs – www.innasdesigns.com – IG: @innasdesigns

Potography: Ina Pandora – www.inapandora.com – IG: @inapandoraphotography

Hair & Makeup Artistry: Maryam Douglas Nash – www.facebook.com/makeupbymaryambahrami/?pnref=lhc – IG: @makeupbymaryambahrami

These photos were a magazine spread for Inna’s Designs, a wedding gown and formal wear custom design company. Note how I highlighted the fullness of the skirt in the first image, while showcasing the lace detail of the sleeves in the second.  I also made certain to show my symbolic wedding ring as much as possible to complete the picture of the bride I was supposed to be.  For this particular shoot I didn’t make as much eye contact with the camera, because I wanted the star of the photos to be the dresses.

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/ – IG: @ashleybeloat

Photographer: Annette Batista-Day – https://www.facebook.com/AnnetteBatistaPhotography/ – IG: @annettebatistaday

This image was from a series taken for Tampa Nails Salon.  The owner of the salon wasn’t present on-set, but I spoke with him personally before stepping in front of the camera.  I asked him his goal for the campaign, what he wanted it to portray… I was instructed to portray a stylish, powerful woman of today who makes the time to take care of herself.  While striking my poses I did my best to portray this confidence he desired – while still doing my best to showcase the nail polish with creative use of my hands.

Models: Ashley BeLoat & Derek O’Donnel – IG: @ashleybeloat & @derekod

Photographer: Justin Credible – www.justincrediblephotography.net – IG: @surfjunkiejustin

Product: Gumbie’s Islander Flip Flops – www.gumbies.us – IG: @gumbiesusa

In this shoot for Gumbie’s footwear, my good friend Derek and I were faced with the task of looking like two friends having an active, fun day at the beach.  This is by far my favorite shot from that day.  The moment I jumped onto his back and he started running, we got this absolutely perfect click. The shoes were perfectly in place, the key to all the energy and excitement in the image.

These are only some of the ads I’ve had the pleasure of doing, and I can’t wait to do more as I’ve been given a new brand deal with a New York boutique!  I hope you can find these tips and suggestions useful as you integrate products into your portraiture.  Have you photographed or modeled for ads before?  What suggestions and tips did you find useful at the time?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

~Ashley BeLoat

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What It’s Like Dating A Model

November 18, 2017 | 6 Comments

My original subject for this week’s article was; “How to Handle the Jealous Boyfriend on-Set.”  The more I wrote, the more I asked myself; “Why is this such a prevalent problem anyway?  Why do models let this become an issue?”  At the end of the day a significant other’s presence on-set should be an aid, not a hindrance.

In my own experience, a jealous boyfriend can be lethal to a girl’s modeling career and overall safety. I once dated a man who became insecure of the time I spent working and communicating with my male photographers.  I soon found myself forbidden from working with any man behind the camera.  This quickly progressed into me not being allowed to communicate with any male photographers at all, followed by angry outbursts if I would even so much as contact a male childhood friend.  I was accused of doing and saying things I would never in my lifetime do or say. The situation only escalated as his temper continued to rage about things he’d only imagine taking place.  Needless to say, my job opportunities quickly dwindled as the number of my “permitted colleagues” was cut in half.

Thankfully I realized the toxic dynamic of this relationship and left before things grew too physically abusive.  I was thankful my career helped bring this dangerous nature of our relationship to light. I’m certain male models can experience the same thing in their relationships, as this is by no means a behavior limited to men or women only. Models, you should never allow this type of behavior in a significant other — on or off the set.

As these memories ran through my head, I decided a better topic would be the dynamics you sign up for when dating a model; what to expect, how to handle it, and things a significant other should understand.  Are you a model who feels your boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t support or understand your job?  Are you the significant other of someone who works in entertainment or in front of the camera?  Are you a photographer wondering how to tell if a boyfriend/girlfriend will be helpful on-set or not? Well then, here are some of the most important things to understand about dating a model.

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images – IG: @ashleybeloat

Photographer: Dan Mahar – www.danielvmahar.com – IG: @dan_mahar

It really is just business.

Our shoots, gigs, creative planning meetings, communication with photographers – all of it.  This is our work.  These are our equivalents to “a day at the office.”  To the outsider it’s easy to imagine all sorts of things going on behind closed doors or on-set. There are commonly misconceptions about how far a model will go to secure work, or the boundaries that a photographer or other model will push. However, if the individuals in question are serious about their careers, the focus will be entirely on achieving the perfect shot and nothing more.  The possibility of lawsuits or accusations of exploitation can be extremely harmful to someone’s future opportunities in the creative industry.  While there are some who conduct themselves less than honorable in this line of work, it certainly isn’t the norm.

We will be asked to pose with member of the opposite sex.

                  We are commonly asked to sell the illusion of a romantic couple or platonic friendship for the lens.  Whether this be for a bridal shoot, clothing ad, or dating app commercial we are often in situations where our co-stars are of the opposite gender.  We may be meeting our co-stars for the very first time on-set, or they may be old friends we’ve worked with before.  Regardless, we are given the task of playing our roles convincingly for the lens.  Modeling is – at it’s very core – acting.

Every model has different boundaries while playing the roles they are given.  Personally, I exercise a no-kiss policy.  Little pecks on the cheek, forehead, hand, etc. are okay, but I have never had an actual on-camera kiss.  Unless the shoot is with my significant other, I don’t intend to…and I make this clear with every shoot where the request might be made of me.

It’s also one of my rules that I don’t pose in an overtly sensual manner – whether with another model or alone. I tell every photographer that I strive to keep my work as PG as possible. Not only does this avoid negative rumors and the danger of photos being leaked to the wrong audiences, but it allows maximal sharing of the work I do.  Ethics and morals aside, I’ve found countless benefits of exercising this rule and highly advise it to every up-and-coming model.  Strive to protect the integrity of your work and your future possibilities will remain wide open.

Some jobs do require explicit poses, scenes, or interaction while others may not even require holding hands.  It’s up to the model to fully understand what will be expected of them with every job before accepting or declining.  It’s then up to us to ensure our professional decisions don’t damage our cherished relationships with the ones we care about, which brings us to…

 

Communication and Trust

                  The two most crucial traits of any successful relationship.  They’re especially important If you or your loved one works in the entertainment industry and will be dancing/acting/posing with someone of the opposite gender.  I can’t stress enough that a couple in this situation should be open and honest from the beginning.  All insecurities should be stated, all questions should be asked, all explanations and reassurances should be given.  If there are any doubts at this point, the relationship and career will likely not survive together.  More often than not, one will need to be sacrificed for the other.  The key is consistent openness and honesty followed by the significant other’s trust that shoots are precisely what they have been portrayed to be.

 

If you come on-set, please be respectful of the working space.

Again I must echo my previous statement that being on-set is similar to a day in the office.  We have to be focused, precise, and at our very best when in front of the camera.  A significant other should be mindful of this and give the photographer and model ample room to communicate and work together.  Our “plus ones” are often asked to hold reflectors, generate breezes, carry equipment, position lights, etc.  This can be a huge help!  But please leave the creative decisions and concepts to the professionals running the shoot. If your opinion is asked, do share it.  Otherwise, please give us the space to bring the desired vision to life.

 

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images – IG: @ashleybeloat

Photographer: Dan Mahar – www.danielvmahar.com – IG: @dan_mahar

 

This post has already grown longer than expected and still it only grazes the surface.  The dynamics of dating a model are complicated at best.  I hope you enjoyed my little recipe for success and honest glimpse inside!  Modeling and acting are more than careers – they are ways of life.  It’s highly important that a model’s significant other supports his/her professional endeavors and seeks to understand things from the place in front of the camera.  Photographers, it’s crucial that you understand the common aspects of models’ relationships and can recognize/avoid complicated situations.  Models, wait for the relationship that falls into place with your career. Unless you are willing to sacrifice your job for love, waiting for the right partner is better than risking both for a partner who doesn’t support your professional endeavors.

Until next week,

Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.Images – IG: @ashleybeloat

 

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How the Art of Portrait Prepares You for More

November 10, 2017 | 2 Comments

For those of you who follow me on social media, you may have seen that I directed my first short film this week. I was blessed to have three immensely talented men behind the camera volunteer their time and talents to help my vision come to life.  I was given the freedom to develop the entire concept, shot list, wardrobe selection, location, shooting schedule, prop list, etc.  Everything to the last detail was graciously given to me to decide, approve, or negate.  I was also starring in this film with one other actor, and what an experience it was to be able to write the parts we would play!

 

Why is this important to modeling and photography?  Simple.  Producing a still scene is a major storytelling challenge.  You’re given the task of communicating an emotion, sending a message, or selling an illusion without motion or words.  Constant practice in this can cultivate significant skills in setting a scene.  Allow me to share with you how my past experiences and acquired knowledge crucially helped me throughout the process of creating a moving, breathing portrait.

My co-star Derek O’Donnell and myself as we watched a cut of our scene with videographer Eli Meyer.

Moment captured by Eric Kinney.

 

Knowing How the Shot is Captured

Not being a stranger to the process, I knew a decent amount of how the videographers should capture the shots to make it match with the visions in my head.  Even though I’ve never clicked a camera for a high-quality portrait, I’ve studied the way my photographers work along with the results different techniques yield.  I was better prepared to communicate which angles I wanted, which direction the shots should be facing, when scenes should be cut from one to the next, when I wanted a moment backlit or lit from straight-on…

I spent days at my laptop designing the shot list.  This list included as many details as possible, yet still allowing spur-of-the moment creative freedom for Derek and myself while filming. I wanted to capture as much organic interaction as possible, and focused mainly on angles, frame, focus, etc.  Sharing this list with my team before filming day was vital, as everyone said it made them see my creative vision in a way they understood and resonated with.

 

Understanding the Dynamics of Light

As I’ve stated before – and you no doubt know if you’ve taken/posed for any pictures – lighting is crucial for setting the mood.  In my film we strove to set a variety of moods, and I wanted them guided by natural light.  Keeping this in mind, I designed the script and shooting schedule to allow for filming the happy, lighthearted, and mildly eerie scenes during the day when the light was at its brightest.  We shot the more somber, bittersweet moments at sunset followed by the sad, emotionally gripping scenes in the darkness.  To make this schedule work I not only had to know when each scene should be shot, but design the scenes so that we could remain on-schedule to achieve this goal. Knowing how much time is required for certain shots, wardrobe changes, and scene preparation was a major benefit of my modeling experience.

Derek, myself, and Eli watching one of our more somber scenes play back.

Moment captured by Eric Kinney.

 

Realizing the Significance of Body Language

I always suggest models and photographers study the science of body language.  Why?  It can make or break the shot and what emotion you are trying to portray.  It’s all in the little details; a nervous person will fidget subtly with their clothing, avert their gaze downward, blink slightly more.  Somebody feeling attraction to another person will avoid closed-off stances and remain open versus crossing arms, angling their body away, etc. Knowing these things helped me immensely in not only playing my – and my co-star’s – roles, but also in the directing and writing process. When I wanted to focus on a particular detail, I knew when to tell Eli to zoom in.

 

Understanding Color Selection

Color plays a major role in the subconscious perception of mood.  Thankfully, we were blessed to find a set with a color palette of whites and greys.  This allowed for maximum reflection of the natural light and an ability to capture a variety of moods with minimal alterations. Grey in particular is one of my favorite colors because it’s a somber, blank canvas.  It can easily be portrayed as somewhat happy, or somewhat sad.  It’s a wonderful beginning middle-ground.

Next, I was also in charge of the wardrobe selection.  I instructed Derek to bring as many neutrals, greys, and whites as possible (doing the same for myself).  We stayed away from patterns whenever doable to keep distractions from the story to a minimum.  I was able to plan our outfit selections to include whites, light neutrals, and faded colors for the happier moments, followed by mostly darker colors during the emotional ones.

Eli filming a tender moment between Derek and I on the sofa.

Moment captured by Eric Kinney.

 

There is so much more I could include on this experience, but will save it for a future article.  I can’t wait to share this final product with you when the editing process is complete!  Be sure to check out the links to websites and Instagram profiles (provided below) of these immensely talented gentlemen, this day would have never gone so seamlessly without them!

 

What would you like to know about the filming process?  Have you ever been able to use your skills for modeling and/or photography in other areas?  Leave me all your stories, comments and questions below!

 

See you next week,

Ashley BeLoat

 

Eli Meyer; videographer – www.elimeyerstudio.com – IG: @elimeyerstudio

Derek O’Donnell; videographer/actor/model – https://www.facebook.com/DO-Films-1066889343352160/ – IG: @derekod

Eric Kinney; photographer/videographer – www.erickinneyphotography.com – IG: @ekinneymedia

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How to make your model feel comfortable and safe

November 5, 2017 | 2 Comments

It’s no secret – safety is a huge concern for any model.  Working with someone new brings a fresh flurry of nerves every time.  Having shared my own experience with assault, I’ve only heard other stories where the outcomes weren’t as fortunate as mine.  Many situations are slightly uncomfortable and others are sketchy at best.  What can you do as the photographer to make your model comfortable and at ease?  How can you make the model feel safe?

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/ – IG: @ashleybeloat

Photographer: Josh Xavier Herrera – www.zavierx.com – IG: @zave.x

 

Have Another Person on Set

                  Personally, it automatically sets me more at ease if I know I’m not going to be alone with someone new.  Plus, I’ve found that having an extra person on-set is very conducive to the shoot!  Put them to work; have them hold reflectors, adjust lights, create a breeze for captured movement, or carry equipment.  Also consider having this person be a stylist or makeup artist.  Assistance with appearance can also greatly reduce the model’s stress and you will be killing two birds with one stone.

 

Extend an Invitation for the Model to Bring a Plus One

                  I know there are differing opinions on boyfriends and significant others, but I believe it’s only proper etiquette to tell the model he/she is welcome to bring a friend, parent, or someone else she trusts.  If you are one that prefers this person not be a romantic interest, just be open and honest.  Express why this is your preference and share a past awkward experience that’s given you this perspective.  Honesty is the best policy and being up front at the beginning will save misunderstandings closer to shooting time.

 

Be Sure to Give Privacy During Wardrobe Changes

                  This may seem a no-brainer, but I can’t count the times photographers have stood right outside as I’m changing in my car.  If I know and trust the person well, a closer proximity during wardrobe changes usually doesn’t bother me.  However, if I’ve just met someone that day, I can’t help but wonder if they’re trying to sneak a peek, or worse – grab a few photos.

The best thing to do is first ask the model if she’s okay to change and if there is anything she will need.  After she says yes, verbally tell her where you will be and go somewhere else to give her some privacy.  Be patient, some outfits may prove complicated and take more than a moment or two.   During some of my past experiences, I’ve heard a few theatrical bangs or clanking of equipment coming from the other room as I change.  I know these were for my benefit – and I’m not saying a photographer has to go this far – but quite honestly I appreciated the gesture.

I will note, however, that if I’m wearing a designer’s creations I expect I won’t be alone during the changing process.  My worst fear is damaging a piece as I step in and out, ripping a seam, or breaking a clasp.  Those garments have so much time and attention sewn into every stitch.  I almost always ask the designer for help if they are present.

 

Be Clear About All Details

Don’t let the model feel she is being set up for any undesirable surprises.  Let her know everything including (but not limited to) clear location progression, specific outfit choices, time frames, and posing style.  If there will be anything expected of her that may be even remotely uncomfortable, let her know from the very beginning planning stages.  For some models it can be uncomfortable to pose with a stranger of the opposite sex, no matter the context. If you have pre-determined a specific activity you for the model to do such as ride a horse, get wet, or walk in some very high-heeled shoes, let them know before they arrive. Do everything you can to remove the mystery of the process – leave that for the viewers of the final images.

 

Avoid Highly Discrete Locations for the First Shoot

                  Though the woods can be a beautiful place that yields a stunning look in photos, save this and other isolated locations for the models with whom you’ve already developed an established working relationship.  I can count on one hand the times I’ve been in this type of situation with someone new and I will give you a good reason why – it’s terrifying. Even in public, terrible things can happen when meeting a stranger.  Not only from the model’s perspective, but I’ve also heard of people posing as models online and meeting with photographers only to rob them.  An isolated meeting place isn’t a good dynamic for either party. Begin with settings that are more public or close to civilization before you go adventuring to untouched locations.

 

Be Respectful of Boundaries

Take the time to ask your model if he/she has any tasks or poses that are out of the question.  Let them know that their comfort is your utmost concern.  If they have any stipulations that would infringe on your overall vision, it may be best to go back to the casting process. Never force or press your vision on a model that doesn’t feel comfortable posing the way you want.  Not only is it unethical, but it will surely reflect poorly in the final photos.

Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/ – IG: @ashleybeloat

Photographer: Josh Xavier Herrera – www.zavierx.com – IG: @zave.x

 

Keep your model comfortable and let them know they’re safe.  When working with someone new, perception plays a monumental role in this sense of comfort.  Always strive for a safe and pleasurable shooting experience on both ends.  And as always, take these tips to grow one step closer to that perfect shot.

 

Do you have any strategies you like to use to promote safety on-set?  Have you ever had a bad shooting experience you learned from?  Share them with me below!

 

Until next week,

Ashley BeLoat

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Staying Motivated; the Importance of Persistence

October 27, 2017 | 4 Comments

This past month has been full of surprises, challenges, and opportunities.  I’ve been booked for a new charity event, asked to walk my first Miami runway, chosen to represent an up-and-coming international brand, and been given the chance to write/direct/act in my own short video.  But among all of these new occurrences, there is one more that excites me beyond my wildest dreams…  I was given the glorious opportunity to pose in a new bridal design by the talented Yong Lin.  It is now available for sale to the public, and is called the “Ashley.”

 

Model: Ashley BeLoat

Design: “Ashley” by Yong Lin – www.yonglinbridal.com – IG: @yonglinbridal

Photographer: Eric Kinney – www.erickinneyphotography.com – IG: @ekinneymedia

Hair & Makeup: Eileen Infante – www.eileeninfantemakeup.com  – IG: @einfantemakeup

 

Why would I bother writing about this?  This is a place where my words are meant to motivate and inspire, not to gloat or brag.  The reason I’m sharing this – and you can be inspired by this – is monumental.  A few years ago, I never would have dreamed these things would happen during my lifetime.  I was never confident in my artistic ability. Everything I wrote would find its way to the garbage, and pictures?  Forget about it.  In front of the camera wasn’t even a place I wanted to be.  I would have laughed had somebody told me these things would come to pass.  My confidence has not changed much, I am still surprised every time I am asked to step in front of somebody else’s camera or be the face of a new brand.  But if it feels so impossible, how does it keep happening?

 

Simple.  I keep trying.

 

The beautiful and terrible thing about art is its never-ending subjectivity. What one person thinks is beautiful, another may claim to be hideous.  How do we know if we are doing a good job?  How do we know what we’re doing is being accepted?  Financial return is one measurement of success, but sometimes the only success is a quiet reaction somebody has when one of our pieces deeply resonates with them.  They may never speak a word about it, but our pictures, paintings, songs, or whatever we produce may take them on an internal journey of which we are never aware. And every once in a while, that one piece that elicits that one reaction is enough to open a new door for us.

 

The humble creative will always receive the words “good job” or “nice work” with an instant wave of warmth and satisfaction.  Why?  Because we don’t hear these words nearly enough.  We often wonder if anyone really cares about what we do.  If any of it matters.  But if we were to listen to these voices of doubt every time they spoke, musicians would cease to play, painters to paint, writers to write, photographers to photograph, and models…   The world would be a bleak, colorless, music-less place.

 

Art is not a field for the easily-discouraged.  Success is gained by building your audience.  Building your audience is accomplished with persistence, dedication, networking, and the never-ending quest for constant improvement.  It can be difficult to do these things when we don’t hear those phrases “good job” or “nice work,” but rarely will we hear those words often in the beginning.  As I’ve stated before, this is why our motivation should not be strictly for finances or widespread approval.  The way to stay motivated is by doing this because we want to.  Because it’s natural to who we are.  Because we love it, and will persist until our work finds the way to the people who love it too – whether we know it or not.   And let me tell you, even better than a “good job” is a silent enchantment followed by a new opportunity or a “We’ll hire you!”

 

Like many fields, the artist’s opportunities usually grow according to their skill and experience.  Regardless of the current present – or lack of – praise, we should always be walking the road of consistent improvement.  This is the path to new chances.

 

So, models, keep going to your castings.  Keep practicing in front of the mirror.  Keep striving to be a good representation of designers and brands so you are ready for the opportunity to come.

 

Photographers, keep taking your pictures.  Keep developing your style.  Keep producing the moods and tones only you can.

 

Performers, musicians, dancers, writers… Keep saying what you have to say through your work.  Not for the praise, but because it’s who you are. Keep sharing what you love with the world until if reaches the people who love it too.

 

You may still never achieve confidence.  You may still have the occasional doubt.  But never forget that with hard work, the previously impossible may become possible.

~Ashley BeLoat

https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/

Instagram: @ashleybeloat

Model: Ashley BeLoat

Design: “Ashley” by Yong Lin – www.yonglinbridal.com – IG:@yonglinbridal

Photographer: Eric Kinney – www.erickinneyphotography.com – IG: @ekinneymedia

Hair & Makeup: Eileen Infante – www.eileeninfantemakeup.com  – IG:@einfantemakeup

 

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Ina Pandora Interview

October 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

                  With Halloween just around the corner, many photographers are looking to push the envelope with special themes and concepts to embrace the spirit of the holiday. As a special treat this week I decided to interview one of my favorite photographers and makeup artists I have had the pleasure of working with, Ina Pandora.  Understanding photography only strengthens her knowledge of makeup and how to create a look worthy of the lens.  She’s definitely one of my main resources when it comes to makeup advice.

If you’re like me, you have many questions when it comes to special-effects makeup and synthetic applications.  These are often precisely the things that make a Halloween photoshoot come alive.  Ina was so kind to answer all of my questions to help every creative team produce the look they want.

Model: Ashley BeLoat – https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/   –IG: @ashleybeloat

Photography, Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe: Ina Pandora – www.inapandora.com – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQGLrtjbF2wXDlQfPrilVdA – IG: @inapandoraphotography

 

Do you have any specific makeup lines you recommend for this type of makeup? What sets those products apart?

I like working with Kryolan cream based and water based makeup they have in their line, they are harmless, I am trying to stay away from any alcohol based or required products as they are not very good for your skin although they do look more realistic.

 

Is it possible to create a convincing look using drugstore products only?

Absolutely, just keep in mind it often times doesn’t have to be perfect to look good. Plus, it’s makeup you can always wash it off and start over, don’t be afraid to experiment after all Practice makes it perfect.

 

What are some common mistakes when applying special effects makeup? How do we avoid them?

One of the steps that are very often done is not reading the instructions when applying certain special effects makeup or face/ body paint, as based on their ingredients it might require a different skin prep before applying it. Another important thing is to have a freshly clean and toned face before applying any kind of makeup, and certain special effects makeup would require toning with alcohol based solutions as well in order for the makeup to sit and last longer, another factor that a lot of people are not keeping in mind when buying makeup in general is not matching it with their skin type, as that is such an important factor before buying any kind of makeup.

 

Do you have any post-production editing techniques you love to use to enhance your makeup applications?  What are some of your favorites?

Well one of my favorite editing techniques is Dodge & Burn, it is very time consuming but the result is normally stunning.

 

What is your technique for applying false eyelashes?

There is no real technique really, one of the tip would be to measure the lashes on you eye before applying and trim them if they are too big in the inner corner of the eye, as that will make the wear unbearable after short amount of time, eyelashes should feel comfortable, unless they are the ones that are meant for Halloween, those are never comfortable.

 

Have you ever made fake blood for application? If so, how and how did you apply it?

I try to stay away from bloody characters as just the idea of blood grosses me out. Yep I am the type of the girl that will faint by looking at blood, can you tell? So far I am lucky enough to create looks with no need of it, so probably I am not the best adviser when it comes to that.

 

Once it is all said and done, how can the model best care for her skin after makeup removal? Are there any special treatments or masks you recommend?

Here are the mistakes that is a very common, we care for our skin only when we feel there is a need for it, and i feel like this is a subject that is under-discussed. The truth is, you need to take care of your skin on a daily basis no matter if you are young or old, if you wear makeup on a daily basis or just on holidays. But, of course after abusing it with special effects, i would strongly suggest a calming mask, and extra moisturize your skin, and it doesn’t matter if you have oily skin or dry skin. Often times we think if we have oily skin we don’t need a moisturizer, well that is very wrong thinking, although oily skin is a factor that age you less than if you would have it dry, your skin still needs to be nourished, even if you are using just natural remedies. I personally have oily skin. One of my favorites are the sheet masks, i don’t have a favorite brand but I do like the Tee Tre Oil ones, Charcoal, Vitamin E & C, and few more, I get mine at Ulta, Sephora or Online.

 

What specific Halloween looks have you attempted? Do you have tutorials on your channel?

Ah Halloween, my fav time of the year. Although i don’t specialize in special effects makeup Halloween is a fun holiday, so far i have done few makeup tutorials on my YouTube Channel.

Sugar Skull: https://youtu.be/r3EDDSp3BJo

Cleopatra: https://youtu.be/YZP6VSAWfJc

Half Pinup/Half Skull makeup: https://youtu.be/bqJQBaEJeYA

I hope you all enjoyed learning some of Ina’s makeup advice!  Be sure to visit her YouTube channel to learn more about creating looks that are perfect for the camera.   Was there anything we missed that you would like to know?  Have you ever done a themed shoot with extravagant makeup?  Leave us your questions and stories in the comments below!

See you next week!

~ Ashley BeLoat

Instagram: @ashleybeloat

https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/

 

 

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Using Light to Achieve the Perfect Shot

October 14, 2017 | 4 Comments

You’ve heard the expression of seeing things in a “whole new light.”  It’s true, lighting can completely change the way you see something.  When posing, it can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  It has the power to set the tone, set the mood, conceal, or reveal.

Lighting is crucial in the pursuit of the perfect shot.

Models, it’s imperative to understand light and shadow so you can give every photographer your best. Photographers, it’s crucial to know how to guide your talent to work with the available light. Today I’m going to teach you some of the best light concepts, tricks, and secrets that will help you in the place before the camera.  Are you ready? Let’s get started…

Model: Ashley BeLoat

Photographer: Dan Mahar – http://www.danielvmahar.com/ – IG: @dan_mahar

 

The overall feel of a photo can be greatly influenced by the amount and quality of your light.  If you have the luxury of shooting in a studio, you’ll have the ability to adjust things accordingly to your creative vision.  If shooting outdoors, you’ll have to coordinate your vision with the sun, sky, and other outdoor light sources available to you.  Is there a moody tone created by a gentle glow, plentiful shadows, and/or cooler tones?  Or is there a more joyful and upbeat feel communicated with warmer, yellow hues and the casting of stronger beams?  Is there a glorious backlight behind the model?  Is the light shining in the direction of the camera towards the model?  Know the tone you’re setting and tailor the posing and expressions accordingly.

For many portraits, the life of the photo is given in the face.  Models, you must learn to sense how the light is hitting your face.  If the light is hitting you from an angle, you may end up with shadows cast on one side from your nose and forehead.   If the light is more overhead – as in midday – you will often have shadows cast downward over your eyes from your forehead.  Of course all rules have their time and place to be broken, but here are some general things it is typically best to avoid…

  • Darkness in the eyes: the eyes are the window to the soul. Draw all of your viewers in by lighting up the eyes.  They’ll feel as if they’re being told a secret, receiving a message, or getting a true glimpse of who the person in the picture really is. If you want to go the extra mile, try to catch a glint of light precisely in your eye (without squinting) to add that extra sparkle.  Just be careful!  Don’t look directly into anything strong that may cause damage to your vision.

 

  • Strong shadows cast from your own facial features: this can make them appear bigger than they really are in comparison to the rest of your face. It probably isn’t your goal to have an abnormally large nose or a very protruding forehead. You want your face to look as symmetrical as possible and let the expression be what catches everyone’s attention.

 

  • Obstruction from hair: know that if you part your hair on the side, it may be blocking the light if it is shining from the direction that your hair is the thickest. To avoid this I will often flip my hair to the side opposite of the direction the light is coming from.

 

At the same time, it can really add a touch of mystery or to have shadows cast all about the model’s face.  There are also some beautiful effects that can be created by casting patterns in the form of shadows as well.  Make sure you communicate with the photographer about what the current creative vision.  If they are up for experimentation, give it a try!

Model: Ashley BeLoat

Photographer: Derek O’Donnell – https://www.facebook.com/DO-Films-1066889343352160/ –  IG: @derekod

 

It is also helpful to understand a general rule – what the light illuminates appears larger, and what the shadows touch appear smaller.  This can help when you are positioning your body.  Know how to tailor your go-to poses with the light that is available to you.  Learn how your body and features look when lit from different angles.  Your build and makeup is unique to you.  What works for somebody else may not have the same effects for you. This is an aspect of modeling that comes with much practice, and as we all know…practice makes perfect!

Model: Ashley BeLoat

Designer: Inna Rudenko – www.innasdesigns.com – IG: @innasdesigns

Photographer: Ina Pandora – www.inapandora.com – IG: @inapandoraphotography

Hair and Makeup: Maryam Nash – https://www.facebook.com/makeupbymaryambahrami/ – IG: @makeupbymaryambahrami

 

One last thing I absolutely must discuss is backlighting.  Backlighting can give the most beautiful halo effect.  Not only will the model appear to glow, but the facial features will be softer as well.  This can all work together to produce a very dreamy capture.  Under certain conditions backlighting can also produce a silhouette result.  If backlighting is in use, be sure you ask your photographer if your features are visible, or if you are only a silhouette.  If the latter is his/her response, use your body to make whatever interesting shape you desire while making use of negative space to define your limbs and torso.  If your features are still seen in the frame, make use of your expression to elevate the image to a new level.

Model: Ashley BeLoat

Photographer: Eric Kinney – www.erickinneyphotography.com – IG: @ekinneymedia

 

This concludes my little lesson on lighting.  It is such an integral part of photography, and as models we can make or break a shoot with our knowledge of how to work with the setup.  Our posing has to be tailored to a multitude of conditions each and every shoot.   Each set brings a new array of challenges.  I hope this article helps you walk onto yours with confidence, and show yourself in the very best light.

 

Until next time,

Ashley BeLoat

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/

Instagram: @ashleybeloat

 

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The Fight to Stay Inspired

October 7, 2017 | 4 Comments

It’s the struggle of every artist.  Our job is to create something unique enough to pull people from their everyday life. To have a voice that causes people to stop and listen.  To make something extraordinary…to be extraordinary.  How do we balance on this tightrope between reality and fantasy?  What happens if we look around and discover the magic is gone?

 

Inspiration is crucial to the art of photography.  One could argue the importance of inspiration on behalf of the photographer, and while this is important, it’s just as crucial that the model maintains this state of mind.  We have the job of giving the photographer something amazing to capture.  We have the task of being something intriguing, mystifying, powerful, captivating… Something greater than ourselves for the time we spend in front of that camera.  How do we regularly do this? It’s a draining place to be. You have to give everything you are, and then some.

 

For the photographer, you must continually see things in a way the world doesn’t. You have the challenge of capturing lines, patterns, and expressions in a way people haven’t seen before.  Every picture has to be unique, yet speak of you as an artist. Again, how do we regularly do this?

 

  • Never let it be about the money.

This is a surefire way to lose your passion in an instant.  The way to make money is to be widely accepted. The quest for generalized acceptance often leads to dilution.  A process of endlessly plucking away the quirks and nuances only you can offer a piece, yet fear the world won’t be able to identify with.  You become less passionate about what you have to say and more consumed with what people want to hear.  Your passion can so easily become an endless chase of doing what appeals to others.  This is all wrong.

The beauty of art is its never-ending subjectivity. Yes, it’s good to want your art to be accepted, but never lose your drive to unharness yourself through it. Find the balance of what your audience will like and what you want to portray.  Photography, modeling, makeup artistry, designing… Do what you do to set yourself free.

 

 

 

Slow Down

Take the time to do things that fill you with a zest for life.  Go for quiet walks in the woods, listen to music by your favorite artist, push yourself to the limit during a workout, or write in a journal by the window as the sun rises. Do the things that keep your individualistic spark alive. The things that keep you who you are. The things that remind you what it is you want to say in your art.

Peel back the layers of everything happening around you.  Seek to find the wonder in everything, the amazement everyone else passes by when they take things at face value. Take a moment to truly feel everything that you experience.  Why is this important?  The artist must capture and reveal these secrets, feelings, and sensations to the world.  The first step to accurately capturing or portraying anything is to understand it at its core. This takes purpose and time.

 

 

Choose passion, and run from indifference.

No matter how you are involved in photography – in front of or behind the camera – seek to be part of projects you feel strongly about. Choose to be part of things that reflect who you are, speak of something you find fascinating, or portray something you truly want to show your audience. If you’ve been given a job and you’re left feeling indifferent, stop.  Stop and look your project over… Find something, anything, that you can become passionate about. Passion is sometimes a choice, but a choice that needs to be made if we are to remain inspired.  To make an audience feel connected with our work, we must first be connected with it ourselves.
Walk into every shoot with the mindset of giving your work a heartbeat.  Have a goal to give your final photo an undeniable energy.  The dream of every artist is to elicit a reaction in their audience, to deflect a feeling, mood, or emotion.  Here is where art and science collide… Energy can’t be created from nothing.  Energy must be shared, distributed, harvested…  If a photo is created out of indifference, it may be cursed to elicit nothing more…indifference.  Strive to fill every frame and canvas with an emotion, with a message, with something so human that your audience sees and feels it.  It’s a chain reaction, and it all begins with how invested we are in the beginning.

 

 

  • Focus on the Journey, Not the Destination

 

Some of the most wonderful things are the result of happenstance and organic creative energy. Staying fixated on a final destination may be helpful, but can also rob us of embracing a creative detour.  If our art is something we wish to practice throughout our lives, it greatly helps when it can evolve with us.  When we give it the fluidity to rise and fall we escape the rigidity of the straight, structured line to success.  Focusing on the journey gives every day the power to be a success.  It gives every moment the power to be its own victory while taking us one step closer to where we desire to be.  Appreciate every artistic phase you experience.  Let your work adapt and grow as you do. There is so much hope and excitement found in not yet being where you plan to be.  Let every frame be decidedly part of this journey, and intentionally not the end.

 

    
All images in this article have been from past collaborative efforts between myself and photographer Josie Brooks. She is an incredible human being and I can’t wait to continue this creative journey with her. Find more of her work at www.josiebrooksphotography.com and on Instagram @josiebrooksphotography.

Until next time,

Ashley BeLoat

Instagram: @ashleybeloat

Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/

 

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