Ash Hughes first developed a love of photography when travelling to different parts of the world after leaving school.
Back then it was all about the pure joy of capturing a moment in time and documenting the places he visited.
Ash, an accountant, says it was not until he became a parent four years ago that his hobby took on more significance as a way of seeking much-needed balance in his life.
“We had our first child, a daughter Eva, and that took up a lot of my time and I felt a little bit lost without having that ‘me’ time,” he recalls.
“A manager at work suggested that I find something I could call my own and do for myself.
“It started as a bit of a meditation type thing where I’d get out and would be shooting landscapes at sunrise or sunset and just enjoying that time to myself.
“It’s all really evolved from there.”
Ash set himself a challenge to post a photo a day to Instagram as a way of staying motivated.
His spectacular landscape images – captured both with a hand-held camera and a drone – soon attracted a loyal Instagram following of almost 10,000 fans.
He has since won a few competitions, including having his photo of Eastern Beach selected to grace the cover of the 2019 Geelong Calendar, which made its way into the homes of more than 100,000 people.
Many of Ash’s photos are taken between Aireys Inlet and Torquay, with surfing and beach shots among the most popular with his social media followers.
“A large number of my followers are ocean minded so the decent surf ones where it’s absolutely perfectly clean tend to resonate the most,” he says.
“It may be not technically the best photo I’ve ever taken but people seem to love them.”
Luckily, capturing the ocean at its best never grows old for Ash who admits to pinching himself that he can access such amazing locations so close to his front door.
“When the surf is pumping, I love getting out there,” he says.
“There’s not much better for me in terms of photography than when there are lines of waves going back to the horizon and you get that offshore breeze that creates a spray.”
When it comes to a favourite location Ash can’t go past Point Addis.
“It’s just a phenomenal beach,” he enthuses.
“It’s just got so many different faces whether it be sunrise, sunset, the middle of the day, going for a swim, getting your camera out… it’s just enjoyment all round.”
It is not unusual for Ash to hike two hours just to get a couple of shots and the thrill of discovering a new location is all part of the attraction.
The father-of-two – Eva, 4, and seven-month-old Will – tries to get out two or three times a week depending on weather conditions and family commitments.
“If there is a dreamy sunset going on outside but the kids’ mouths need to be fed at dinnertime then, if you want to keep in the wife’s good books it’s not a good idea to sneak out the door to take some shots,” he jokes.
For Ash, the editing process is every bit as enjoyable as the photo shoot itself.
“I’m a bit of a tech nerd, I guess, so it is always another level of learning to find what can boost an image or really bring out the colour or detail in an image that the camera can’t,” he explains.
Ash also branched out last summer to shoot weddings, something he wishes he had done sooner.
“I was always nervous with the pressure that comes with a wedding,” he says.
“But I’ve learned that as long as I trust the gear that I have, the rest is a breeze and is actually really fun.”
Ash has also been surprised and humbled by the customer demand to buy his landscape prints.
“I didn’t start out for this to be a business and it’s quickly gone that way,” he says.
“In the future I want to say goodbye to my accounting world and do photography on a full-time basis.
“It never stops amazing me how much colour and beauty there can be in a sunrise or sunset.
“It’s always different – it’s just nature at its best.”
You can follow Ash’s photography on Instagram @ashhughesphotos and purchase prints through the website at ashhughesphotos.com.