On May 29th, I had the pleasure of photographing a new friend who I met through a Facebook group for Philly brides. It’s funny. Finally meeting someone for the first time over the internet in the midst of a pandemic not knowing if you’re getting catfished.
Ashlye is one of the good ones though. I never doubted her intentions or her heart. From the moment I started chatting with her, she seemed genuine and kind. I appreciated that at a time where we're feeling so much frustration and distress, she always showed gratitude, positivity and grace.
Through this process, I was able to get to know her story on an even deeper level. I’m so lucky to have had this opportunity to photograph her, her mother Felicia and her little sister Aubrey.
Family is not an important thing, it’s everything. -MJF
Ashlye defines family as “unconditional love where the door is always open if the world beats me up. It’s the village attitude of where everyone pitches in to help when you are in need without any circumstances.” Living under 1 roof with 4 generations of 11 family members, she felt as though growing up in a middle-class black family has its many roadblocks. But her grandparents and great grandparents instilled words of wisdom at a young age to be a better human yet also being a strong Black person.
Ashlye is engaged to a Latino/Mexican and sees a glimmer of hope for her younger sister and future children. She hopes to pass down her ancestral stories to her future children and show them her family’s slave shack in Jackson, NC so they can better understand her family history. To Ashlye, being a strong Black woman is about knowing her past and not being another statistic. She will continue to fight 10 times harder because she believes “our black is not a burden, but it’s our brains that will get us further.” She adds, “I just pray that my fiancé is ready for that fight because in anyone else’s eyes that’s a Black child. All you can do is pray that they live a long fruitful life, use their voice to vote & they understand their roots.”
Ashlye is strong, powerful, empowered, resilient, brave and as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I hope she continues to instill these characteristics to those around her.