JACKSON CENTER – When she began taking a few formal photos of friends and family six years ago, Hardin County native Ashley Rostorfer had no idea how much she would enjoy the hobby – and no idea how quickly her hobby would grow into a blossoming business.
Now a resident of Jackson Center, Rostorfer is the proprietor of Ashley Elizabeth Photography, which includes a studio in Jackson Center, hundreds of photo shoots on the books since 2013 and a loyal, growing list of clients who seek her for high school senior sessions, weddings, engagements, family photos and a little bit of everything in between.
“I had no idea how quickly this business would grow,” Rostorfer said at a client appreciation event she held at her newly opened studio. “I had always enjoyed taking photos and bought myself a nicer digital camera in 2013. I started taking and editing a few amateur photos for close friends – their children, couples, engagements – and suddenly I was being contacted by more and more people who had seen my work or heard from someone else that I could take photos.”
To appreciate and celebrate with her clients, friends, family and the community, Rostorfer welcomed guests to an open house gala on Aug. 24. The event was held at Split Decision Café in Jackson Center, above which Rostorfer operates her recently acquired and renovated photography studio.
Susie Wilkins, who owns and operates Split Decision Café and Split Decision Catering, had the vacant space above her café. The space, located in downtown Jackson Center at 205 W. Pike St., caught Rostorfer’s eye.
“The second floor of the building is beautiful,” Rostorfer said. “It has a lot of character with large windows, high ceilings, exposed brick and a historic, nostalgic feel.”
With Rostorfer’s added touches, such as an antique setae, vintage furnishing and cameras, and lush, colorful surfaces, the once-unused second floor has been transformed into a space that allows her to feature the true stars of the studio: smiling toddlers, happy couples and loving families.
“I truly love my clients,” Rostorfer said. “I have the privilege of photographing some of their most joyful, intimate and cherished moments – weddings, engagements, family hugs, newborn snuggles and children’s smiles. I am truly blessed that they allow me to capture so much love on camera. The feeling I get when a client says ‘You made me look so beautiful,’ or ‘You captured my daughter’s expression so perfectly’ is so very rewarding.”
To show her gratitude, Rostorfer held the open house as a six-year anniversary event. Elements of the event were all sourced locally, as Rostorfer believes in supporting local small businesses like hers and tapped these peers for their quality work and service.
The gala-themed event was complete with catering by Split Decision Catering, rose-adorned centerpieces by Re:Vive’s Deanna Stienecker and parting gifts for guests including custom Ashley Elizabeth Photography T-shirts by Threads and can koozies by Colorworx LLC.
“I feel like I’m helping my clients not only capture memories but make memories, too,” Rostorfer said. “The experience of having photos taken is just as important as the photos themselves, and I make the sessions fun, exciting, light-hearted and, especially with children, as fast as possible. I hope that my clients leave not only with gorgeous photographs but the memories of racing across the bridge at Tawawa Park, sitting in the dugout as a high school senior ballplayer, face-to-face with their beloved pet or smiling at their daughter on her wedding day.
“I hope to make this business a full-time commitment someday,” said Rostorfer, who holds full-time employment at Honda Manufacturing in Anna. “The sky is the limit. During each shoot I learn a little something new, from a better way to adjust for the best lighting to another way to encourage a stubborn teenager to smile with mom and dad in a family shoot. Most of all, I get to meet new, amazing people who teach me about the love and loyalty in our community. And that part will never get old.”
To see Rostorfer’s work or contact her for a session, visit https://ashleyelizabethphotography.net/.