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Published: Friday, 7/24/2009

Monroe County Community College

Ashley LeTourneau has turned a love for photography into a successful career. Ashley LeTourneau has turned a love for photography into a successful career.
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Graceful. Sometimes gritty. Peaceful. Powerful. Classic, but with an edge. Ashley LeTourneau s photographs are anything but bland.

The 20-year-old Monroe County Community College graduate has an eye for photography that exceeds her years in her craft. You would never guess it from viewing her photos, but LeTourneau didn t own a camera until she was 17. My mom bought me my first point-and-shoot camera when I was in high school, and I bought my first SLR camera shortly after. It didn t take me very long at all to get hooked.

Most people who get hooked on photography keep it a hobby. LeTourneau took it to the next level and in a short time transformed her interest into Ashleymarie Photography. My business officially started when one of my friends wanted senior pictures taken, but she couldn t afford to go to a studio. So she asked me. She was really happy with the result. Other people saw her photos and asked me to do their portraits.

LeTourneau graduated from MCCC in May with an associate of applied science degree in graphic arts. A month prior to graduation, she was selected to accompany MCCC President Dr. David Nixon, Director of Marketing Joe Verkennes and Mark Spenoso, MCCC s photographer, to the State Capitol in Lansing to celebrate Community College Day in Michigan. LeTourneau mingled with legislators, telling them how the community college experience helped hone her artistic and business skills. And, of course, she brought along her camera and took as many photos as she could.

She also works part time as an assistant in the college s Financial Aid Office. During her non-MCCC hours, LeTourneau takes her tools on the road to view the world through a lens.

I take pictures of all kinds of things sometimes I just walk downtown and photograph whatever catches my eye. But professionally, I am a portrait photographer. I take senior pictures, wedding pictures, baby and child pictures I love to do that even pet portraits.

LeTourneau is a location photographer, which means she travels to different venues to take portraits instead of shooting them in a studio. I really enjoy taking pictures of people in beautiful or interesting places, or in places that feel comfortable in, like their home. It adds an element that just wouldn t be there in a formal studio shot. Behind some of her portraits, you ll find the unexpected backdrop of a paint-chipped industrial wall. Still others forgo a color spectrum for the drama of a black-and-white palette. One particularly intriguing portrait features a smiling subject tightly curled between two pieces of her vibrant artwork. Around her are the remains of crumbling, almost dungeon-like brick walls. Definitely not your standard senior-portrait fare.

LeTourneau s business has been steadily growing, ironically because of the struggling economy. Clients are seeking more affordable ways to record their memories, including booking less established firms. As many have realized, less established does not mean less talented.

Right now, I ve made the decision to keep photography as my passion and not as a full-time profession, she said. I want to limit my bookings and continue working toward my bachelor s degree in business management with an emphasis on marketing. LeTourneau plans to attend classes at MCCC this fall that will count toward a bachelor s degree at Siena Heights University, which offers a number of degree programs on the MCCC campus.

After attaining her four-year degree, LeTourneau hopes to find a full-time career where she can combine her photography and graphic skills with her business acumen. I m not sure how I m going to do that. I guess I still have a little bit of time to think about it, she added with a laugh.

Whatever she decides, you can bet that like her photos her career will never be ordinary.



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