Ashleigh Spice is a BA (Hons) Photography gaduate.
Where are you currently working/ what projects are you currently working on?
The Photo Rooms - Managing Director.
A day-to-day basis at The Photo Rooms would include anything from directing a photo shoot or assisting if we have little people or pets in - also professionally editing photographs as well as going through final photographic prints to check they are perfect before going out to our customers.
The office environment is very relaxed here - I encourage the team to feel at home because that is how we want our customers to feel. As a team, we also manage our marketing and social media - to ensure all prospective customers know what we offer and why we would be right for them.
What do you look to for inspiration for your work?
Francesca Woodman - her work was and still demonstrates great creativity and seeing portraiture in a different light. I am inspired by how photography has the power to capture one's 'self' and pause that moment in time to last forever. I like to be able to give customers this opportunity to get great photographs of loved ones, that not only last but also show them at their happiest.
What has the journey been like from graduation to where you are now in your career?
Not easy! I started just doing a 9-5 full-time job in retail while I paid for rent and bills without the luxury of a student loan. The camera actually became a bit of a background element in life for a few months, while I got my feet on the ground with work and general life.
I continued to photograph with friends, family, and the odd freelance work. I was able to build up a stronger portfolio and develop my website further, that is when the freelance work got busier. I had to invest time and money into marketing and extremely long hours of photographing and editing, with the hope of eventually owning my own studio.
Has your career lead to where you thought it would?
Surprisingly, yes! I was not expecting it to happen this soon, but I am very lucky to have landed a position where I have a good balance between work and home life.
How would you describe your style of work?
Good question - I guess I work on getting the truth out of people (not in an interrogating way). So that their portraits are pure, elegant and tell a story to themselves and others.
Is there a message you carry through your work that you want people to receive?
Honesty & quality.
Did you have any setbacks/ challenges in your career? If so how did you overcome these?
Most definitely. Obviously, there are more responsibilities after graduating that perhaps took a side track when you are studying, so that was certainly a challenge. I missed studying so much to start off with! I had to teach myself how I could learn through life instead.
I have many health problems which I have dealt with since being a teenager, however, now I am actually at the point where I can not photograph at the moment. This has been upsetting and caused major setbacks. I have to rely on my team to get the vision I have in my head through their own eyes. Instead, I focus more on what I can still do, such as training my staff, offering work experience to undergraduates and doing my favorite thing of all - editing. Even this is hard as my eyes get incredibly painful after looking at the screen for a while, so I have to make sure I am strict on giving myself breaks and timeouts.
Where do you see the future of the industry you are in leading?
Hmm, this is a tough one. Technology is developing so fast, I will not lie and say it is not intimidating having all of these amazing phones with state of the art cameras on them nowadays; it is worlds away from when I learnt on film and it was a real niche being in photography. Now social media advances are teaching anyone willing the latest tips and techniques on how to get good quality photos. So I do need to make sure I keep an eye on the times and move with them with what we offer. I am confident that our photography is of the highest quality and we are still in a strong position at this movement.
Do you have any advice for aspiring students?
Do it! Whatever 'it' may be. If you have got an idea you want to try, just try it. The worst that can happen is you do not like it, or it was not right for you. Or even like me, life gets in the way. But there are always options and ways around it. I am currently learning languages and attempting  knitting at home - you never know when a career change will happen, or how your hobbies and work can intertwine!
WORDS: SOPHIE BAYLIS
EDITED: ELLIE GRIMSEY
PHOTOGRAPHY; PROVIDED BY ASHLEIGH SPICE