This week I am proud to introduce you to Ashley Davies, a very young Australian entrepreneur, writer and founder of PhotoGuides.net. I believe that Ash is the definition of multitask. He writes, blogs, works on TV, studies and he does all these things with only 19 y.o. Enjoy the interview! :)
1. First of all, welcome to WPCrown Magazine Ashley, and thank you for the opportunity to interview you. How are you today? Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks Alex, It’s my pleasure! I’m doing really well, albeit a little tired from a night of writing.
Not sure what to say, I’m a 19 year old Australian with a love for photography and design. I write, I blog and I really enjoy working and connecting with people around the world!
2. Your blog, Photoguides, achieved a great popularity on the web, you even appeared on Abduzeedo. What is its story and how did you manage to make it so popular?
PhotoGuides has been a really fun project. It started back in 2009 when I was looking to kill time during a power outage. I wrote some basic guides on photography, things like aperture and shutter speeds, just to collate the things I’d been learning at the time. When the power sparked back on a few hours later I went on a whim, registered the domain PhotoGuides.net and posted the articles as a blog.
It started out as a low key blog with fairly basic articles, but with enough dedication and with the right ideas it began to quickly grow. Today PhotoGuides shares ideas, tutorials and stories with millions of photographers and designers every year. We’ve got a few international writers and we aim to publish daily, curating and creating the best photography stories and tutorials on the web.
I suppose I owe the popularity to our proactivity. We never shy away from a new project and we’re very good at just making things happen. Two years ago I’d finished our first video tutorial and someone had the idea of making it into an iTunes podcast. We had the podcast live on iTunes within 24 hours and within two months we were the number 1 arts/design podcast in Australia, beating even the likes of Ted Talks. We just do things, and we do them well!
3. What does photography mean to you and how did your interest in photography start?
I began taking photography seriously about 4 years ago. I’d always enjoyed taking photos but it was only when playing with my Uncle’s SLR and lenses that I realized how wonderfully involving photography could be.
To me, photography means discovery. I don’t have a specialist subject. I really just enjoy discovering new techniques and taking the kinds of photos I’ve never taken before. I do have a soft spot for evening photography and waterscapes, but I’m just as prone to sticking a camera to the outside of a car!
4. You also have written a book, the PhotoGuides Guide to Photography. Is this your first book? What is essencial to know when writing a book and how do you manage to promote it?
This is our first book and so far it’s been a lot of fun to work with. The book is a culmination of everything we’ve done with PhotoGuides over the years.
Our goal was to make the best beginner’s photography book in the world. It was written from scratch to be a cohesive, complete guide for new photographers. Nothing was copied from the web. The result is a book packed with knowledge, but also filled with great ideas, tips, gorgeous photographs beautiful diagrams. The book doesn’t feel academic at all. It’s as much about inspiration and ideas as it is about information
We’re preparing now to launch our second edition – more guides, more ideas, more awesome techniques, all polished & refined based on feedback. Our first edition sold in over 25 countries and has been a great success. For the second edition we’ve already gained a strong place in Aussie retail, we’re working with a few Australian schools and we’re even in close talks with a major camera brand. I don’t wish to say too much before things are confirmed, but people seem to see a lot of potential in our new book!
We didn’t really know anything about book writing when we began. All we had was a clear vision of what we wanted to do and a fair bit of experience from writing online. We’ve managed our own design, printing and distribution. Regarding promotion, we originally pitched the book to our readers only, but lately we’ve been networking, talking with teachers, camera retailers and other professionals. With their help we’re learning and growing quicker than ever!
5. More recently you started a TV career. Could you please tell us more about what do you do on television?
Certainly! Through high school I made a few documentaries and short films, mainly based on cars. With a bit of luck these films landed me a job on Australian community TV, working as a writer and producer for a show called MyDrive.
We’re about three weeks into airing now, Australia wide on Channel 31 and Channel 44. Basically, we look to tell the amazing stories of the auto world. If you head over to vimeo.com/channels/mydrive then you can see some of the pieces I’ve been working on.
6. You do a lot of things even though you are still a student. What exactly are you studying? What are your plans for the future?
To be honest, I haven’t a clue what I want to be doing in the future. I don’t believe in setting goals. Instead I prefer to do what I love, be proactive and see where it takes me!
Currently I’m in my second year of a Bachelor of Professional Communications at RMIT, looking to major in Journalism and Media. I’m not getting a lot out of it unfortunately. I’m learning more by doing things, making mistakes and being proactive outside of uni.
I suppose the career path of an Automotive Journalist is appealing, but then I’m currently loving being a sort of entrepreneur. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how things go!
7. I suppose that you hardly find time for yourself, but how do you spend your free time? Do you have any other hobbies?
Haha I’m a night worker, so there’s plenty of time left in the day. I think it was Seth Godin that said it’s not how much time you spend on something, but the quality of the time you spend on it.
In my free time I’m usually going out with friends. I also love driving and doing things with cars. I’m preparing for my first track day in a few weeks time! Then there’s my Golden Retriever pup, Molly. She’s a pretty big part of my life right now.
The thing is though, PhotoGuides, the book and the car show are all still fun, so they’ve never really felt like work.
8. Once again, thank you for the interview Ashley, do you have anything else to say for our readers?
It’s been my pleasure Alex. Not sure what else to add, but if anyone wants to get in touch, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @PhotoGuides :)