January 15, 2018 4:42 pm
Updated: January 15, 2018 5:24 pm

Self-taught N.S. photographer uses talents to capture special moments in her children’s lives

WATCH: A Nova Scotia woman is making quite the name for herself as a photographer in our region. But Sharon Ashley's story is a little surprising. She didn't go to school to study the art-form, rather teaching herself in order to make her two autistic children more comfortable in front of the camera. Natasha Pace has her story.


The journey from mother to professional photographer for one Nova Scotia woman was unexpected — even to her.

But Sharon Ashley is now making quite the name for herself as a photographer in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

“I got into photography eight years ago when my oldest son was diagnosed with autism,” Ashley said.

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READ: N.S. family ‘scared’ as boy with severe autism faces release without home supports

Her son, 11-year-old Owen, would get overwhelmed when she took him to get his photos done.

Not wanting to miss precious memories of her children growing up, Ashley picked up a camera and taught herself everything she could about photography.

“Every mother wants those memories of their children,” she said.

“Most people go out and spend the money and get those done professionally, but a lot of children don’t know how to deal with children with special needs and unfortunately bringing them out, you feel very rushed and you’re not able to get those special moments that you want to see that you know your children have.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia parents call for more help for students with autism

With a welcoming environment and some patience, Ashley is able to capture the perfect photos of her sons, Owen and Liam, 6, both of whom have been diagnosed with autism.

“They shine in their own ways because those moments don’t come all the time,” she said.

“They have a hard time interacting sometimes, so when you do get those moments, you want to remember them forever.”

READ: Vendors display unique crafts at open house for autism awareness

Not only has photography made it possible for Ashley to get photos of her own kids, it has also launched her into a career she didn’t see coming.

She now operates her own business and has even had recently her work published in a local magazine.

“I do newborn, wedding, animal. I’m a very photogenic person. I love people, I love photos, I do anything. So if I haven’t done it, I will try it,” Ashley said.

“Photography is a lot more than picking up a camera and taking a picture and I believe not only do you have to have the soul for it, you have to have an eye for it. You have to have the knowledge for it and to be able to have both of those is very rare.”

View a gallery of some of Sharon Ashley’s work below:

Ashley’s photography business isn’t full time just yet but she hopes some day it will be.

“I enjoy what I do,” she said.

“You always learn. You never stop learning in photography, I’ll tell you now and the more I learn, the better I hope to become.”

Her hope is to one day work with people around the work — including children with disabilities — and help capture special moments for their families.

READ MORE: School tailored for children with autism, ADD to close without $70,000 in funding

Ashley says she feels “blessed” to be able to capture snap shots of her kids lives and have this type of opportunity.

She has this message for parents who have children with disabilities and are struggling with issues similar to those she encountered eight years ago.

“I know it’s hard and I know you guys struggle and I promise you this, just keep fighting because you’re able to do anything and your children can do anything,” she said. “I believe that God gives you everything for a reason and I became a photographer because of my children.”

You can get more information about Ashley’s photography by visiting her Facebook Page.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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