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Meet Ashley Brantley of Monroe Street Photography in Chicagoland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Brantley.

Ashley, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a city girl at heart from the south. I grew up in a town outside of Memphis. Things are much tighter around there, my 7th-grade teacher taught Justin Timberlake! I’ll never forget that, I just thought it was so cool. There used to be rows and rows of cotton fields right behind my childhood neighborhood. Driving the country back roads was how I avoided traffic. As soon as I got my license, I began exploring the areas around me, I would just drive around looking for things to photograph. After graduating high school I started a career in aviation. I worked for regional airlines, moved to Jersey for a year and then back home before I got the call from United Airlines to move to Chicago. I came to Chicago in 2012, I didn’t know anyone! I had corporate housing at Grand Plaza in River North and worked out of the Sears Tower. Every day after work, I would do the same thing as at home. I would walk around looking for things to photograph, mostly architecture. (I had always planned to be an architect). Four days after moving to Chicago, I met my husband walking down Monroe Street. (That’s how Monroe Street came to be.) We’ve been married 4 years, together 6 and we have two beautiful children. Two years ago, I left United to stay home with my daughter and pursue photography full time professionally. I never ever ever thought photography would turn into a career. I am so blessed to be on this journey and I have met some of the most amazing women entrepreneurs.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oh, my gosh, no! There are always going to be trying times, especially in small business. I definitely have gotten discouraged or lost some confidence and motivation. When I feel like this, I like to slow down on business and do something just for me. I love storytelling through photographs. This is a passion for me, it’s not my job. So, whenever I feel discouraged I go out and do a styled shoot of whatever I want. I have ideas in my head well before I bring anything to life. I pick out everything just as I want it and when the finished product comes out, I always feel ten million times better. It reminds me why I love doing what I do so much.

Please tell us about Monroe Street Photography.
Monroe Street Photography is based on my own love story. I met my husband on Monroe Street in downtown Chicago. I wasn’t looking for love by any means but God doesn’t care about what you’re looking for sometimes haha. Monroe Street isn’t about just taking photographs, I want to tell my clients story, I want to learn about them, how they got to where they are and what they love. I specialize in weddings and milestone events like maternity and engagements. I also offer portraiture and I do a lot of work with families as well. I am most proud of the last six months. I rebranded onto Monroe Street and took off with it. I’ve connected with some amazing small business owners and created a new circle of friends and creatives. I’m most looking forward to a bridal shoot June 24th, it is going to be so amazing. I can’t wait to share the outcome. There are so many talented photographers out there and talented wedding photographers. What sets Monroe Street apart is simplicity, my couples are already overwhelmed trying to plan their wedding and I feel it is my job to assist them in any way I can to help make this part of the process as simple as possible. That is why I have resources available as well as preferred vendors I know and trust that I can easily refer anyone to. Monroe Street is also inclusive, I believe love is love and as Hendrik Hertzberg said: “Marriage should be between a spouse and a spouse.” We need love right now more than ever and I really enjoy being a part of so many amazing love stories.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite memories is playing cards with my grandmother, we called her “Boo”. I am not sure why but that’s what we called her, haha. Anytime, we would visit her and Grandpa Jim, we would play lots of cards and I loved it. Her home was straight out of the 70’s, she had this black and white shag carpet in one of the guest rooms. I used to lay on the floor and run my hands through it, it was so soft. Ha!

Pricing:

  • My wedding packages start at $1200, I also offer custom packages for more intimate weddings.
  • I just decided to start offering a special engagement package. It is called “Round Trip Chicago” and starts at $599. Couples receive a special 2 1/2 hours with me as we go around Chicago, take a ride on the water taxi and I share a little bit about the city as we go. Included is a video short and digital images.
  • I also offer portrait packages, those start at $250 and are available for a range of portrait services.
  • In addition to all of these, I offer video shorts as an add-on to packages. A video short add-on is $199.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jennifer K, Jessica Rangel, Jessica Grabowski, Jordan Morgan, Lindsay Corres, Tiffany Bard, Karen Cook

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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