Based right out of Chicago, Illinois, Ashley Osborn is clearly one of the most established women in the music side of the photo world. She’s got an insanely hectic amount of things to juggle: being a full time student, having a full time job, owning her own online magazine and pr company (both separate things), and having a booming photo career. Even with all of the craziness that is her everyday life, this girl still manages to keep her cool and do everything she does with a smile and keeps everything insanely professional.
Why she’s badass: She sets goals and actually follows through with them! It takes a lot of determination to do what Ashley does, and she does a pretty damn great job at it. Definitely go check out her magazine, Highlight, now!
Keep reading to check out our interview with Ashley.
LL: Let’s start off with telling the readers who may not know you a little bit about yourself.
Hello, readers! My name is Ashley Osborn. I’m a very sarcastic and busy girl that currently resides in Chicago, IL! Currently, I am the Editor-In-Chief and lead photographer of Highlight Magazine, I own my own small PR company called AROPR and I am the publicist of Lo Fidelity Music Group and a lovely band from Massachusetts called Paris (adding more to my roster as we speak). I’ve also been shooting bands and artists non-stop for almost three years now. I’m a full-time Marketing Communications student at Columbia College Chicago (focusing in PR). Oh, and somehow I manage to also be a full-time barista at Starbucks. Yeah, I have no idea how I do it.
LL: What was the first show that you covered? How did your first time in the pit feel?
My first real photo pass was the summer of 2010! It was an Every Avenue tour. I can’t remember who was on it.. I think There For Tomorrow and Sing It Loud? I was really excited but I had no idea what I was doing! But physically it felt sweaty because it was probably about 150 degrees inside of the venue (In Minnesota) and the photographers in there all wanted to die, or were near death. Overall, it was my first time not shooting horribly from the crowd and it was quite an awkward experience. But I really felt the ‘wow, I made it’ feeling! So that was exciting. However, looking back now it’s hilarious because my pictures from the show were terrible and I was such a.. newbie.
LL: Have you personally ever felt like you were not taken seriously because you are a female photographer?
I’ve definitely felt not taken seriously before, but I don’t think it had a lot to do with me being a female. There have been times were I was super flustered, especially when I first started. I feel that after I work with bands and artists they are always very surprised with the way I act. As much as I hate to point out the obvious, a lot of females in the industry give the rest of us a bad name. So I pride myself on going into a situation acting very professional. ESPECIALLY with these Highlight shoots – I usually get about 10-20 minutes to do an entire shoot and it’s pretty difficult. I think if you go into a situation like that, or just in general, and you act professional, you’ll be okay. But a lot of these girls, no offence, are fans of the band who just want the chance to get a little closer and that’s not only annoying for the band, but for the rest of us! We’ve got to start filtering them all out, you know? If you’re professional – there’s no reason you won’t be taken seriously regardless of your sex. Sorry about rambling!
LL: Clearly, you’ve come a long way since you first started shooting. You have your own online magazine that is actually really successful! What made you start your own magazine? And also, where did the name Highlight come from?
D’awww, thank you! I think after years of working for small outlets, I really wanted something to call my own, you know? Something I had control over and free range to do what I wanted with. I really wanted the chance to expand my photography career and work closer with artists.
The name Highlight… I can’t even remember. My co-founder McKenzie and I’s main goal was to bring the entire industry together in the same magazine. I feel like all magazine’s aren’t very diverse. I mean, they claim to be, you know? But music isn’t just music. It’s an entire culture. Each genre in it’s own way is like a different country. I wanted to cover it all. So we were walking downtown Chicago after we decided to start the magazine and had left Chili’s (the best place ever, one day I want them to sponsor us. Haha!). We were thinking about ways we could bring together the industry and we were like.. “HIGHLIGHT.” And the rest is history!
LL: What is one thing that you wish you would have known before you started Highlight?
How much work it was going to be. I don’t think I had any idea how hard I was going to have to work and bust my butt to make this happen. Every month my team works so hard! I’m so lucky to have them all!
LL: Did you find it difficult to get the ball rolling with the social media aspects? Any tips for anyone who may not know how to effectively use social media?
I think that I’m really blessed with the fact that I have such a strong social media following, myself. Words cannot describe how thankful I am that I have the support I have. Once I announced it, people were immediately backing it. I was so lucky! We were so lucky!
Tips I have are to basically find ways to distinguish yourself. You know? It’s a brand. You, your product, your outlet – you’re a brand. You have to find that one thing that makes you different and flaunt it in the faces of as many people as you possibly can.
LL: So far, who has been your favorite person to work with?
That’s so hard! Working with LIGHTS was incredible. Her music is very inspiring and if it’s even possible to picture – she’s nicer than you could even imagine. We shot behind a parking garage in flowers and used all of these different spaces to grasp a good concept and she models so well. She told me so much in our interview and the article turned out very well.
Anthony Green was another favorite too. Picking his mind was so inspiring. He had so much to speak about and was so honest and genuine. William Beckett was a fun one too! Oh, and working with Pat Brown and Mod – literally the two nicest human beings on the entire planet. We’re working with Pat on something right now but we can’t share that yet! The Anarbor guys were fun too and recently I worked with Lions Lions! All such nice people!
LL: If we were to look into your camera bag, what would we see?
A HUGE MESS. Haha! My camera, lenses, all of the pieces of my equipment I never put back on, but that I should, a bunch of business cards all over the place, cleaning cloths, filters, oh man. Im going to go organize it now this is embarrassing.
LL: What are the basics that you MUST have with you when you cover a show?
This is a good question because I’m always prepared! I have a mental checklist.
- Gum – I always get super nervous for some reason in the pit when I’m waiting so I just chew gum like crazy. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet – could be a good networking opportunity!
- Hair-ties – incase it’s really hot in the venue!
- Bobby pins.
- Sunglasses – summer or winter, it doesn’t matter! I always have to have my hair out of my face when I’m shooting! #1 pet peeve!
- Compact mirror – I only wear foundation and mascara. But sometimes when your eye is squinted for that long in the pit and it’s super hot… your eye makeup starts to drip down your face and it just is not a pretty sight. Right, girls?
- Phone charger – you just never know.
- Change – since I live downtown I always want to be prepared just incase I can’t find my bus/subway ticket.
- Business cards in my back pocket.
- Cleaning cloths – ew, foggy lenses from sweat. Clean that!
- Keys, wallet!
LL: You posted on your twitter that you’re doing some work for Raleighpalooza and LoFi Music Group. Care to talk about that a little bit? What exactly are you going to be doing?
Yes! I’m so excited. My dream job is to be a publicist, which I already do but I want to do it on a way larger scale. Jamie (founder) and I spoke the other day and she’s bringing me on as not only the publicist for LoFi but for Raleighpalooza as well! I’ve always dreamt of doing PR for a festival so I’m so excited. I’m also helping out with sponsorship.
If you don’t know what a publicist is or does, as far as what I’ll be doing it’s split up between to categories.
1) Pre-Festival: My job is to basically get the festival promoted as much as humanly possible so we can draw more people and sell more tickets AND to make sure absolutely nothing goes wrong. Some examples are reaching out to colleges around Raleigh to see if they want to partner up with us, reaching out to sponsors, working on partnerships with local and corporate businesses, etc. I’m trying to get Jamie on some morning shows and in newspapers in the Raleigh area as well so she can speak on behalf of not only the festival but LoFi as well. I’m also coordinating all of the press for the festival. So I’ll not only be reaching out to media to see if they’d like to cover the festival, but I’ll be accepting all of the press requests and organizing the press list and media coverage. This includes sending out and receiving the press request form that I’ve made, sorting out all of the bands’ interview requests with THEIR publicists and tour managers. I’m also working on guest list. Oh, and crisis prevention. Crisis prevention is basically making sure the entire festival staff is prepared and knows what to do if anything goes wrong. This could be something as large scale as a stage falling down to somebody breaking a leg. The list goes on and on.. it’s a big job but I love it!
2) During the festival: Nobody will be able to find me so thankfully I’ll have a radio. I’ll be at the press pick-up in the AM with the press list giving everybody media credentials. I’ll most likely be in the designated media area that day working with all of the bands and media on interview requests and management. All of the TM’s will be reporting to me when they’d like to come to the press area and I’ll have to work with media to coordinate on-site interviews that day. I’ll be running around the festival where I’m needed making sure everything goes smoothly so Jamie (founder) doesn’t go crazy! I’ll also be making frequent visits to the photo pit to make sure nobody is in there without proper equipment, etc.
LL: Any last words/advice to up and coming photographers?
Are you ready for a big mumbo jumbo of sentences? Me neither. No but seriously – dream big and never let anything stop you. I say this so much, probably too much… but you can literally do anything you want in life. This isn’t just for photographers but it’s the most important thing I’ve learned in my twenty years on the planet. If you want to do something there is absolutely nothing stopping you except yourself. You control your future. You deserve the absolute best in life. Never settle for anything less than the best. Never sacrifice what will make you happy for a job because something better will come to you. Never lose sense of self. Never give in to temptation. Take every day a step at a time. You are beautiful. You must have confidence in yourself. Do this with dignity always. Never forget that what you do now will effect your future. Ignore every negative comment. Everything truly does happen for a reason (at least those are my beliefs).
And last but not least, if you can picture it in your mind you can have it in the real world… you know, besides the obvious things like flying and having zero gravity, oh and purple stripped aliens. But those are probably all just things I picture… right?
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