Ashleigh Taylor — Santa Barbara, California

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

I am so happy to share one of the most inspirational Studio Tours we’ve filmed: Ashleigh Taylor’s studio in Santa Barbara, California.

We don’t show it in the video, but I couldn’t stop crying when we toured Ashleigh’s studio. Everything she’s built reminds me so strongly of what it felt like for me to open my first studio in New Zealand over two decades ago.

This is the smallest space I have visited yet, but she is working my business model to perfection.

Ashleigh’s energy fills every room she’s in. Over the last four years I’ve watched this amazing young woman get married, have her first child, and build a small boutique portrait business in Santa Barbara.

Her portraits, her studio, her great accomplishments, and her big dreams. All coming together because of her powerful hard work.


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  1. If you bottle Ashleigh’s enthusiasm and sell it, I will purchase it by the gallon. What she is doing with minimal space is incredible! Go, Ashleigh!

  2. Beautiful job. I noticed that you printed the posing .pdf guide. It looked like a magazine. Where did you have this done?

  3. Just in the process of opening a similar size studio downtown, and seeing what you have accomplished with yours is so exciting! I love that you have been so creative and smart with your space! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  4. Dear Sue, I feel that I am very close to were Ashleigh was when this tour was done… I’ve got 3 clients a month with a 2000$ average and have been working full time on this business for two years now. I wonder, when you said you stopped yourself from pushing her more could you say what you would have told her if you had pushed her more? I need a push right now. I want way more clients and I’m not sure if I am stuck somewhere or I just need to be patient? Thank you so much for anything you can share. ????

  5. Loooove your energy Ashleigh!!! It’s contagious! Love your smile makes me smile 🙂 And your studio is gorgeous!! You’ve totally inspired me to rethink the potential of mine, and to use the most of it, sometimes I’ve felt it needs to be bigger but not now after seeing how well you have utilised your space, I was super excited yesterday after watching your studio tour, I was so inspired and excited I found so many other places I can photograph people in it and I can’t wait. And I’ve had it for 6 years! Maximise space, multiple functions and making the best you have, like you say! Wish I lived closer to you would absolutely love to meet you! Look forward to following your journey xx

  6. Oh my goodness, I smiled from the beginning to the end. This is such a genuine feel good story that I will always remember! Such a lovely human being. So touched by Ashleigh’s wonderful personality and determination. Wishing her every success!

  7. This has really inspired me to make use of a little space that I have access to. Thank you so much for sharing with us Ashleigh!

  8. Ashleigh, thank you for sharing. You are a beautiful spirit, that shines out in the interview. Sue Bryce it is wonderful to see your efforts coming together!

  9. Oh My Gosh! You are the most energetic and beautiful person I’ve ever seen! I thought you were going to explode! You have done an amazing job in such a small space and have encouraged me to continue on the path of creating my own “studio” in our apartment. It can be done! Thank you so much for being a wonderfully energetic and inspirational person!

  10. How fortunate and creative of you are to set up in S.B Ashleigh. Lived there for 3 years so I know it must be a joy to go to work every day. I would love to have S.B. and Montecito as my demographic! .

    1. SB is a beautiful place to live and I definitely feel lucky! You would be surprised that even though there is a lot of montecito wealth here, it can still be hard! the cost of living is quite high here and the very wealthy usually go to LA or NYC for a lot of their shopping and spending ironically. that said I am making it work and doing really well. Just wanted to point out even if you are in a wealthy area it doesn’t mean you got it made in the shade. LOL!

  11. OMG Ash you rock and Sue you are amazing mentor i am speechless and very much inspired xxxxx

  12. This was incredible, powerful, tearful and inspiring. Thank you, Sue and Ashleigh.

    1. How do you get the huge pleasure of being chosen for a studio tour Sue? 🙂

  13. As I’m sat here, waiting for the lease contracts to be finalised for my first “compact” studio, this really inspires me. I am now filled with the hope that one day o can ditch the job I hate to be the portrait photographer I have always wanted to be.

  14. I am so emotional right now! This is my first year shooting glamour portraits and I do it from home. My living room is my studio (seriously, I don’t even own a sofa).

    Watching Ashleigh’s studio tour was a breath of fresh air. It’s so inspiring to see how we are all making it work.

    Great job Ashleigh!

    And to Sue, thank you so so so much for everything you do and for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with the world! I love that you have put a spotlight on women who have dreams like mine and are actually doing it! You are an angel 🙂


  15. Sue! I always love your encouragement and you help people dream bigger than they could or would alone.

    I do wish this post listed the suppliers for her various products so I dont have to go back and listen for them. 🙂

    1. at the time of the filming of this tour my suppliers were
      Black River Imaging (folio box)
      Mats – Redimat
      Prints – Millers
      Canvas – Pixel 2 Canvas

      …. I have since started using the new Sue Bryce Collection with Graphi Studios and I LOVE it. I also use a box from Global Image for my smallest package

  16. I cried while watching this. So touching Sue! Right to the core…. thank you for doing these videos. They’re worth their weight in GOLD!

  17. Ashleigh, what size is your blowup mattress? My space is comparable to your space. Thanks

  18. Yes, her laugh and bubbly personality are infectious! I would love to work with her and I can see why clients love her! Thank you for showcasing her. She’s an inspiration and I’m looking forward to hearing more from her!

    1. i would love to photograph you Julie! Come to Santa Barbara! It’s beautiful here! <3

  19. Awesome tour, infectious energy and so inspirational, Thank you for sharing Ash…do you mind me asking what kind of air mattress do you have? I love how it sits up off the floor allowing for a bedskirt ?

  20. This was amazing and Ashleigh is awesome. thank you for sharing. I needed to watch this.

  21. The flower backdrop that she is referring to from Drop it Modern is called Gothic Garden and it cost $335. Wow!

  22. You gals are so lucky to have Sue visit!! (Insert shocked face!)
    Just FYI, I would love to share a visit with you Sue, at my studio in Shreveport, LA. as I am sure we all would! This is the 3rd time I’ve started my business over, and my 29th move in my lifetime (I’m prior military) and I am just so proud of how far I’ve been able to go with your business & life teachings!
    We all are just in awe of what you have done for the photography community, as well as all the lives we are able to touch with all the knowledge you generously share with us!

  23. Enjoyed this so much! I am just starting and feel like taking small steps to create the life I want to live and building my dreams. I love photographing portraits and I am lit on fire right now to work with the tools that Sue has laid out for us.. Ashliegh would make anyone feel comfortable and bring out the best in them and it shows in her photography! So happy for her… she made it happen and she’s making it happen! Yay!!!

  24. Ashley, you gorgeous human being. So inspiring to see what you have created in a small but perfectly formed space. Thank you so much for inviting us in xo

  25. So much fun to watch, Ashleigh! Love your little space, and your great big smile. Continued success to you!!

  26. Oh that was amazing to watch. Thank you so much. I’m about to move house and I will have a space the same size to work in- I’m SO excited to get started on this journey! ❤️

  27. Every minute I am working on it, I am doing it. Ashleigh, thank you so much for the reminder. I sometimes lose track of that.
    Congrats on your perfect space!

  28. Just fantastic!! I love your energy and vibe! Your space is amazing and gives me inspiration! <3

  29. Ashleigh…I love your flower wall. What mix of flowers did you use to create this?

    I just opened a studio with a friend and we’re sharing the space. It’s 240 square feet so smaller than yours but you’ve given me some great ideas to work with a small, more cozy space!

    1. it is a mix of silk flower styles from michaels when they had a sale 🙂

  30. Absolutely LOVED this studio tour! Beautiful work. I love that you featured a small studio, it makes me feel more like I can succeed in my little space I’m making.

  31. I’m in love with the tours- so useful to see a small space as well. I saw because of the small space, there wasn’t a kitchen and toilet, how do you get around that and how do your clients feel about it? I’m sure they’re not bothered by it. Cheers!

    1. hi! i am in an office building with lawyers and accountants and therapists in the other suites. there are bathrooms on the floor that all the suites can use. sadly there is not a communal kitchen. i have a mini fridge in my space. i only offer water. i tell them to bring their own snacks.

  32. Amazing! What a beautiful work she is creating in such a tiny space. I love Ashleigh’s energy and I wishing her the best.

  33. I love what Sue said at the end of this. I have a space the same size in my home so I can balance work life over the years. I will be honest, I’m looking forward to and planning on more work time this year though! Ashleigh I love your energy too!

    1. thanks sunshine! and yes you can do this, just take action every day!! <3

  34. Great tour! Your laugh is contagious. Thanks for sharing your tiny but wonderful studio.

    1. no i found it through craigslist!! someone was locked into their lease but wanting out and was looking to find someone to replace him. it was very serendipitous