Lindley Ashline Shows Alluring Beauty in All Sizes

One of the things we miss the most in photography, be it art or stock, is diverse bodies. Everyone seems to be cis, white, thin, and able, whereas reality is far more diverse and varied. Lindley Ashline has made a point of debunking these beauty standards in her life work, and as such, we thought it important to shine a light on it.

The Phobographer: What’s your essential gear?

“Since my work relies heavily on rapport with clients, I keep my gear light and simple. I use a Sony A99 with 85mm and 35mm prime lenses. Though I mostly work with natural light, in a pinch I’ll use some inexpensive softboxes or my Westcott Icelight. Oh, and a gray card comes in handy.
My other piece of essential gear is a bit unusual: a folding stool that goes with me almost everywhere. It gives me a place to set gear and props (here in the Pacific Northwest the ground is often wet). Since I often work with people who are disabled or have mobility issues, it’s also a place for them to sit.”

The Phobographer: Would you introduce yourself, please?

Lindley Ashline: Hi there! I’m Lindley Ashline and I’m a body-positive and fat-positive photographer in Seattle, Washington.

The Phobographer: How did you get into photography?

Lindley Ashline: My first photo was a close-up of the railing at the North Carolina Zoo when I was three or four. I was trying to capture some of the animals, but wasn’t quite tall enough to see over the railings.

Since I grew up working-class and film was expensive, my photographic urges remained in the background until college, where I was able to borrow an early digital camera from the college library.

This camera was a monster. It used 3 ½-inch floppy disks that slid right inside the camera and held maybe 15 shots per disk. I adored it.

My first love was nature photography, and I practiced it for many years. I still do — it brings me so much joy.

When I left my full-time job to pursue a photography career in 2015, though, I knew that I needed a more reliable way to generate income, so I began studying portrait and boudoir photography and learning to work with human clients.

The Phobographer: We think we have an inkling, but what’s the motivation behind your work at Body Liberation Photos?

Lindley Ashline: By the time I launched Body Liberation Photos, I’d been a part of what’s called the fat acceptance movement for almost a decade. I knew about the discrimination and harassment aimed at people in larger bodies, and how rare it is to see large bodies depicted positively in the media.

You might already be familiar with the body positivity movement, which is an offshoot of fat acceptance. Body positivity is focused on individual body image, while fat acceptance and body liberation are focused on the systems that make people feel bad about their bodies in the first place.

I chose the name “Body Liberation Photos” for my work because it reflects my focus on visibility, justice, and liberation for all bodies, especially the most ignored and marginalized ones.
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to photograph people in bodies like my own large body, but from a business standpoint, it was also a good choice because people in large bodies are a drastically underserved market.

When I launched, I offered portrait and boudoir sessions to clients. Since then, I’ve added small business branding sessions as well as size-diverse stock photos through Body Liberation Stock.

The Phobographer: What’s the most interesting part of capturing beauty and health at every size?

Lindley Ashline: People in big bodies are encouraging our whole lives to shrink and disappear and become invisible. We’re put in the back row in group shots. We’re discouraged from appearing in photos.

Or we become the ones who are always behind the camera so we can avoid visibility entirely.
My photography sessions give people a space to try rejecting that mentality and become visible, and they just blossom.

From a selfish standpoint, with that visibility I get to see all kinds of bodies, in all shapes and sizes and skin tones, and from an artistic and aesthetic standpoint it’s incredible.

The Phobographer: Speaking out of experience as a photographer and model, getting big people to pose for the camera is hard. How do you go about it?

Lindley Ashline: There’s a large coaching component to my photo sessions. We start with a talk about boundaries (and how they’re encouraged to set them during the session) and what people are feeling in their bodies and minds that day.

I also keep sessions very laid back so that people don’t feel rushed or intimidated. And finally, I’m cheerful and encouraging.

All these factors together make for a session that’s so supportive that people really do feel the freedom to relax and trust me to portray them.

The Phobographer: What do you like most about your work in Body Liberation Photos? Is there a story you’d like to share?

Lindley Ashline: Running a stock photo service has been an especially amazing opportunity to change the world while growing my photography business, for a few reasons:

  • It’s just really cool to see your work out in the wild.
  • The people who model for my stock photos are volunteers from underrepresented and marginalized groups like people in large bodies; Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) and the LGBTQIAP+ community. This is often the first chance these folks have had to work with a professional photographer, and they find it a powerful experience to get great photos of themselves while also representing people like them.
  • The people who buy the stock images help change the kinds of bodies we see on social media and in the media, which literally changes the world over time as more bodies become seen as normal.
  • I’ve been able to set up a tech platform over time and expand Body Liberation Stock to include contributors. I love bringing contributors on board because I get to pay them a high royalty rate and support the work of other photographers, illustrators and artists.

About Lindley Ashline

Lindley Ashline is the owner of Body Liberation Photos and creator of Body Liberation Stock, the world’s first and best site for stock photos of large bodies. The collection includes images focused on inclusion and diversity in all walks of life, perfect for bloggers and graphic designers and priced for small business owners.

In addition to her photography work, she provides consulting on body size inclusion and Health at Every Size (HAES).

Lindley lives outside Seattle, WA, United States with her spouse, feline overlord and houseplant jungle.

* All photos by Lindley Ashline. Used with permission. Be sure to follow Lindley on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and her website. Want to be featured? Click here to see how.

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