‘It means so much’: Photographer donates to charities each month

After two years of strife she’s able to give back to those who helped her
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 6:18 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about the person behind the lens?

For photographer Ashley Dorton, her story can be captured in two words, tragedy and triumph.

“I’ve been through a lot myself the last couple years, so I feel like it is good to give back to the community and I’ve always tried to help and do what I can for others,” said Dorton.

During the pandemic, this single mom was laid off from her full-time job in a plastic surgeon’s office.

In that time, she decided to commit 100% of her time and energy to her side hustle, photography.

Dorton’s employer wanted her to come back, but her priorities changed. She wanted more time with her daughter, and with the flexibility of making her own schedule as an entrepreneur, she took a chance on herself.

“It’s been the best I’ve ever done for myself,” says Dorton.

What she couldn’t have pictured was some of life’s challenges.

“My brother’s been through leukemia, my grandmother had breast cancer, my mom had GB [Guillain Barre sxyndrome], we had a house fire, and just going through all those in a year, the number of stuff people did for me, the amount people did for me, it’s just nice to give back when you can,” says Dorton.

Sarah Kelly is Dorton’s childhood friend, she is so proud of how her friend has established herself and still prioritizes giving back.

“Of course it makes a difference taking photos and capturing memories for people but she wanted to do more than that,” said Kelly. “She picked 12 different charities and each charity is meaningful to her.”

In honor of her brother and grandmother, now cancer survivors, Ashley donated a portion of her earnings to charities supporting cancer research.

The Rare Illness Foundation received a donation in honor of her mom, who is now out of the hospital and recovering from Guillain Barre.

The Chesterfield Fire department got a donation as well as thanks for the first responders who helped during the tragic fire that destroyed all of her photography equipment.

“The team that showed up and the people that did everything they did from the Chesterfield Fire Department was amazing,” said Dorton. “To give back to the people who gave so much to my family, it means so much, because those people didn’t have to do that.”

Kelly wanted to give Ashley another bit of encouragement with the NBC 12 Acts of kindness - $300 dollars in cash and a $50 dollar gift card to Mexico Restaurant.

Ashley took the negatives life threw her way and developed them into picture-perfect kindness, one snapshot at a time.

“I feel that her story serves as a true inspiration. Not only to other business owners in the area and the impact they can make in the community but also towards anyone who has experienced a hardship or a series of hardships. To know that you can come out of that and turn your mess into a message and spread positive light in a negative situation,” said Kelly.

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