Ashley Beloat on How to Accomplish What You Set Your Mind To

From registered nurse, to fashion model, to blogger, to film director – how do you accomplish that? Beautiful Ashley Beloat, with her high-energy and dynamic personality, fill us in on some of her own secrets in accomplishing whatever it is you set your mind to. Ashley decided to break all molds when she partnered last year with Eli Meyer Studio in Gainesville, Florida to create an emotionally charged short-film about a marriage that is faced with overcoming a struggle most of us hope to never encounter ourselves. The young married couple, deeply in love, show us how their relationship evolves and transforms after the husband receives the brutal diagnosis of lung cancer, at such a young age. The film is in post-production stages now, and once completed and released, will show us “what goes on behind closed doors” in these situations, as Ashley put it.

Ashley Beloat not only brought the project to life as its film director, but also as its casting director, costume designer and location scout – anyone involved in film-making can appreciate the amount of hard work and effort she put into making this film happen. But Ashley doesn’t mind the hard work. In fact, she says

“Failure is knowing inside that you did not give 100%.”

Ashley’s mentality is what drives her to excellence in everything she does. She’s not interested in just showing up and doing the bare minimum expected of her – whether that be at her nursing job, a photo-shoot, a fashion event, a fundraising non-profit event, or the shoot of a film – She goes above and beyond what’s expected of her in every occasion by studying in depth everything she can prior to the event. She researches, reads articles and books, takes advice from other professionals and mentors, practices, practices and then practices some more until she knows she has learned all she can to be prepared. “I often ask myself – How far have you pushed yourself? Did you grow? Did you improve? Grow stronger? Acquire a new skill?” she says, as she explains to me that she studied not only posing and angles for models, but also skills and knowledge normally left to the photographers to deal with, such as lighting.

Ashley Beloat began modeling when a friend photographer of hers asked her to step in front of the camera. At first, she was reluctant, suffering from self-image issues and a lack of confidence in herself. After giving it some thought, she realized that she did not want her complexes “to rule her life” and define what she could and couldn’t do. “I realized my flaws are not that big of a deal; I was tired of feeling like I had something to hide.” she says with frankness, opening herself up to me and all the readers.

But this down-to-Earth girl with a caring heart who says she loves “nature hikes, sunsets, and clouds” as a genuine smile spreads across her face, has always known that she also loves “the art of performing.” In fact, her first job was in a nursing home for patients with dementia, where she loved “playing pretend with the residents” to bring some joy and laughter into their lives.

Her main drive in all of her work is to “make people feel something. To make people stop, and focus on that one show or image, change their perspective or feel something, or think of something differently than before” she explains. This perspective of hers might help to explain why she chose to start her film career with such a heart-stopping, touching and inspiring story. Co-star Derek O’Donnell was selected by Ashley, under her role of Casting Director, because she “needed someone to be emotionally vulnerable with.” She pauses, before she goes on to explain that O’Donnell, her best friend, was perfect for the role because of his talent and also because of the trust and rapport they share together. When it comes to casting, “organic interaction is so much more important than experience.” Actors, beware – if you can’t connect with the casting director during an audition, you won’t get the role no matter what your resume looks like!

Ashley enjoys working with people, and to keep a project going, she strives to “be someone who ignites excitement” she says as she talks about keeping motivation levels up in the team. But she also has to pump herself up with motivation as she deals with the challenges of creative projects. When asked, the three biggest challenges she faces are “Not being afraid to say how I want things, conveying to others what I see in my head – being descriptive and thorough enough – and finding the resources to do what I want,” she gives a sigh, “Making your dreams small enough to fit your budget,” she tilts her head slightly and gives me a sympathetic look, changing from first to second person as if we were two accomplices working together in the difficult world of entertainment, understanding the same struggles and questions faced in order to make our dreams materialize.

Fortunately for this strong-willed woman, nothing keeps her down or stops her from pushing forward to get what she wants. “When you have a creative vision, don’t be afraid to take a small plot and run a long way with it,” she advises. This no-doubt explains how she manages to fill so many different professional roles in her life. Ashley keeps herself busy – allow me to rephrase that understatement. Ashley keeps herself vigorously immersed in jobs requiring her talent, working with other professionals throughout Central Florida, covering a radius of about 180 miles with Orlando being her main headquarters. And, as the tireless beauty she is, she makes it all look so effortless.

Coming towards the end of our interview, I asked Ashley Beloat what she enjoyed the most about what she does. Her answer was not surprising :

“Selling an illusion – creating something that looks effortless even though the makings of it was far from it. And I love meeting amazing people and the lasting effect of the creations we make together.”

Interview and article written by Helena Thrasher

Kids Behind the Lens

At first, everyone thought I was crazy- give kids professional cameras and let them take photos? What?! But it was precisely that line of thought that inspired me to create this nonprofit event to begin with. Kids Behind the Lens allowed its participants, kids ages of 11 to 15, to strap a Canon or Nikon camera around their necks and be event photographers for a day, just like the pros that they aspire to be one day.

Since the purpose of the event was to raise funds for the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida (while simultaneously having a blast), the parents of the participating kids didn’t have to pay any admission to the event. Instead, they were asked to make a donation to the Association, in the amount of their choice.

The event shot two birds with one stone – raise funds for the Association, and introduce young teenagers to a world of possibilities. They saw that their hobby could blossom into something more – a profession they are passionate about. A skill they could work at and build. An adventure they could embark on, feeling a little less intimidated about the restricted (and practically taboo) subject of handling expensive technology and equipment – things that are typically reserved for the grown-ups.

I remember when I was that age, I was infatuated with a video camera my father owned. Each time I asked to use it, the answer my parents gave me was the typical: No, no, no! You can’t handle such an expensive piece of equipment – you’ll break it! You’re just a kid! Until one day, after much insistence, they finally agreed to let me try it out and from that moment, I was baptized the official filmmaker of our family videos. They recognized the talent I had, acknowledged that I could be trusted with the equipment, and what do you get when you put those two together? A happy kid!

When I started planning this event, I reached out to dozens of people, businesses and organizations. It couldn’t have happened without the altruistic, selfless and philanthropic contributions of many! The Model Wearhouse in Orlando, a fantastic studio all photographers should check-out, gave us the entire studio for a day. The LensPal, a company based in Winter Garden that rents top-notch camera and video equipment, provided 2 DSLR cameras (Canon and Nikon). James Freeman of Almost There Photography gave the event another 2 DSLR cameras (Nikon), and Ken Montano Photography chipped in with 1 (Canon). The gourmet popcorn shop on Church Street of downtown Orlando that sells delicious, flavorful and aromatic popcorn, called Popcorn Junkie, helped with the goodie-bags by giving samples of their unique product to give to all of the participants.

Managers at the Millennia Mall of Orlando were happy to be a contribution as well – the Sephora store helped spread the word about the event and 2 of their employees came to the event with their high-quality make-up and artistic hands to give the models a truly professional look; and the Godiva store also contributed to the goodie-bags with… you guessed it – their decadent chocolate!

Let’s not forget Shenika Rhudd (Hair) Helena Thrasher (Event Coordinator), Ship Schipul (Photography Instructor) and all of the models and actors who gave, not only their time and talent, but also their excitement and positive energy that filled the studio with the magic kids crave and seek after: Travis Crane, Lori DePinto, Rachael Lindsay, Ashley Beloat, Yi Christina Liu, and Melissa. No one could have done a better job bringing the different scenes to life!

Chuck Carmen, Executive Director of the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida, enthusiastically promoted the nonprofit event and provided a portal through which the participants could register. And much to my delight, Mr. Carmen was present for the event and, just like the models and actors, filled the air with excitement!

Each and every one of these contributions was entirely FREE of charge – no one involved, not a single professional or sponsor received anything in exchange, other than a simple acknowledgement and a HUGE Thank You. They contributed to the nonprofit event because they wanted to be part of something bigger, to give back to their community, and to donate to a worthy cause.

And what is the lesson we all learned? Much like my parents learned years ago, we learned not to stifle a child’s creative curiosity, which is ambitious in nature and vital to his development, but to take the risk and give the child the opportunity to prove himself. After all, have you seen their photos? These young teenagers took better photographs than many adults do!

Making Florida’s Winter More Picturesque

For those of you who live in Florida or have visited, you know that our fall and winter seasons lack the typical colors everyone associates with them: red, yellow, orange, auburn, brown and our favorite – snowy white.

But who is to say that we can’t make it appear that way in photos? The modern-day marvel called Photoshop lets you create pretty much anything you want – images that were once impossible or, at the least, very difficult and time consuming prior to our digitally-run world of today. Anyone who masters Photoshop can change the colors and hues, blend two or more images together seamlessly, highlight particular areas to bring the viewer’s attention and focus directly to it, eliminate distractions, add elements that were never there… Speaking of which, do you see that squirrel the model is looking at? Well, you see it, but she didn’t. The squirrel was not in that particular shot. The critter was in another photograph I took, but as is usual with me, I decided not to waste the opportunity of creating a more interesting image for the viewer to enjoy.

The models, Solange Sanchez and Yi Christina Liu, couldn’t have had better attitudes towards my unusual request to wear heavy winter coats, warm scarves, gloves and boots during a hot Florida day. Despite our 80 degree weather and a bright sun blazing down on us, these Florida models wrapped themselves up as if we were in New York’s famous Central Park on a cold, autumn day. And I couldn’t have been more grateful. If it wouldn’t have been for these professionals’ willingness to be uncomfortable and look somewhat out-of-place in the middle of downtown Orlando, these fantastic images we created together would have never existed.

Without a doubt, the photographer’s vision is an important aspect as well. I created these images in my head and planned the different elements that I needed to put them together long before I met with the models at the photo-shoot location. Attention to detail during the planning stage is a must – get all of the pieces of the puzzle ready before you sit down to put them together.

Vote for my photo and I’ll win a printer!


Click here, then click on my photo, then click on the HEART symbol to vote

Happy Holidays everyone!
As you all know, I am always working on my craft. Lindsay Adler is one of my mentors, and I have entered into her Holiday Giveaway Contest to win a top-notch, AMAZING printer for my business.
Visit the site, scroll down until you see the photo I entered (featured on this post), click on it once to open it, and then CLICK ON THE HEART to give it your vote! Thank you and have a Happy New Year!

Come Out With Pride Orlando parade

Have you ever stopped to think how fortunate you are to live in a society like ours? Take a moment to think about it. We find reasons to celebrate together, despite being in a moment in history which could push us completely in the other direction, if we let it. I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s Come Out With Pride Orlando parade and I was amazed to see all of the people out there celebrating together.


I was hired to cover the event for a client who wanted commercial photos of the company’s float for promotional purposes, and my initial thought when I landed the job was “Great! More photos to add to my portfolio!” Much to my surprise, the experience enriched me so much more than a few extra photos in my portfolio. As the float roamed along the streets of downtown Orlando, I ran alongside it capturing the hyper-positive vibes that everyone diffused into the air.


Their excitement and joy was contagious! I soon found myself exuberant, with a huge smile plastered on my face reaching from cheek-to-cheek. At that moment, nothing else seemed to matter. We were in the moment- celebrating life, celebrating freedom, celebrating choice, celebrating comradery, celebrating love… celebrating people!


We forgot all of our fears. We didn’t think about the risk that unfortunately, in today’s world, comes with unhindered self-expression. We weren’t afraid or concerned. We left the past in the past, and let the future stay in the future. And we focused on each other, in the present, united by our confidence in who we are and what we stand for in life- regardless of our sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or sex. There were people of all walks of life, lgbt and non-lgbt individuals. We were people, celebrating people.

Halloween Fun

Fun? If we look at our lives, many times it becomes clear that we don’t have enough of it. It’s up to us, as adults, to go out and create fun every time we get a chance to. Photo shoots¬† are fun in themselves, but when you mix them with the antics of Halloween, like Briana Deshields did with her event at The Model Wearhouse, they become a BLAST!

There is something about Halloween and its fantastical nature that naturally causes the models to be less inhibited and more willing to “play the role.” Let’s face it- dressing up is fun! Getting the chance to play pretend, especially to play someone or something make-believe – allures our imagination. It entices us to tap into the creative side of our brains that we like to switch off when we are busy in the real-world. Work, chores, errands, obligations and responsibilities- nothing wrong with them! But we shut down our creativity when we go through them. We go through the motions, due to the repetitive and perpetual nature of these tasks, and almost forget that we have exciting emotions and passions lying just below the surface of our thoughts.

Passion can be a great motivator for all of us. Think of cosplay. Cosplay has become more and more popular over time but still has just a cult following. A relatively small group of fans, with a strong emotional bond, very dedicated and passionate about what they follow, gets together and organizes grand events for all of the participants to enjoy. Our event at The Model Wearhouse wasn’t quite as big as some of those cosplay events can be, but we had just as much passion, and just as much fun!

A professional make-up artist and clever costumes created scary characters such as an “It” girl, an evil gypsy, a sly cat-girl, a creepy clown, a homicidal nurse and a skeleton rising from a fiery pit. My camera and I took these characters and brought them to life with eerie levitations, diabolical flames, dark alleyways, ominous balloons and other advanced photoshop editing and compositing techniques.

Where the models’ fun and passion ended, mine began. One of my greatest passions is being behind the lens, but an equally important passion for me is the compositing and editing I do with the images in Photoshop, as you can see in my portfolio section titled Before and After. Creating a moment that never existed, a fantastical image that was never meant to be-¬† that’s where my fun lies.