Meet Route Bay City: Ashley Brown

Route Bay City is committed to telling the stories of growth, development, and innovation happening in Bay County. 

Telling these stories are Route's writers and photographers, locally-based people who are working to show Bay County to the world. Today we have a Q&A with Route photographer Ashley Brown. This is the third article of a series where we get to know the people behind Route.  

Ashley grew up in Saginaw, but moved to Bay City recently. Even as a child, Ashley knew she wanted to be an artist. But she spent a few years taking the safe route and working at a traditional desk job. Within a few years, though, she was drawn to take the risk of opening Eleven Creative photo studio where she specializes in photographing portraits, places, products, families, and sports. Outside of photography, Ashley enjoys playing hockey, mountain biking, food, and adventuring to new places.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background in photography?

I started using my mom’s camera as a teen and, after graduating high school, I saved up to buy my own DSLR. I taught myself how to use it. It was truly trial and error while I asked friends to let me take photos of them. I was in the arts program at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) and decided to become more serious about it. I surrounded myself with people who I could learn from. I eventually started the business Eleven Creative and did that on top of my full-time corporate job until I became busy enough to step away from Dow and do this full time. I was then asked to join Route Bay City last fall and I found a new love for photojournalism. 

Q: What kinds of lessons have those experiences taught you about telling great stories through photos?

I’ve learned so much through the people I meet. I speak to people from every age range and walk of life. I love hearing them speak about the things they’re passionate about. I’ve gotten to see a lot of cool “behind the scenes” things that I ordinarily wouldn’t see. 

Q: What kinds of photos do you most enjoy shooting for Route?
I’ve found myself enjoying the historic stuff! I loved walking through the Masonic Temple and hearing the stories and the history of that place. 

Route: Why did you want to get involved with Route?
As someone who just moved to Bay City, I really wanted to be able to capture this city to show it off. There are so many great people and opportunities here. They deserve that recognition. 

Q: What effect do you think there will be on the area having a publication dedicated to telling the positive stories Bay County is creating?

I hope that it brings people, issues, businesses, projects, ideas, etc. to the light to show what great things are going on in Bay City and the people behind them!

Q: Why do you think Bay County is a place worth telling stories about?

I honestly believe that the people in Bay County are a community of the most driven go-getters I’ve ever met. They put their entire heart into this area. 

Q: Why do you think stories are such a powerful way of connecting with people?

If we don’t help show and tell these stories, who will? People need to hear what’s going on in their communities. I think it’s much more relatable to hear it directly from the sources and people can identify with that. 

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your storytelling?

I hope that our storytelling brings light to the great things in our community and makes others want to step in and get their hands on these projects. Many hands make light work and I think Bay City has so many amazing people with so much to offer.
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