Sisters Ashley, left, and Felicia Neuhof are shown together at an event.
By Michelle Fountain, Standard Correspondent
Sisters Ashley and Felicia Neuhof grew up together in Woodstock, but their careers have linked them in New York and beyond.
For Ashley, growing up was all about horses. She continued this in college when she was on the dressage team at Mount Holyoke College her freshman year. “We won the national championship,” she says of that year. Later she transferred to the University of Vermont majoring in film and television, but upon graduation found herself drawn to New York City and, eventually, to still photography.
Ashley took classes at the International Center of Photography and began to experiment with lighting in the studio. As she considered her future she says she thought, “What better subject to work with than the one that was most natural to me – horses…I could put my voice behind it and use my experience from training and riding.”
Some initial photos she took of horses were well-received and Ashley realized she needed to get connected in the hunter/jumper market. She began going to events and trying to find someone who could get her a press pass so she could take photos.
Around the same time, Ashley knew she needed to get her name out there more and sister Felicia stepped in to help.
Felicia majored in communications design at Syracuse University and, upon graduating, turned down 14 full-time job offers taking an internship with Mirrorball in Manhattan instead. That “roll of the dice” as she refers to it, paid off as she is now the art director of this experiential marketing firm.
“We do mostly events,” Felicia says noting they create cultural relevancy for brands. “We take a brand, flip it on its head, dissect all the components, and bring it to life.”
Contracting with Jack Daniels, they created a motel with 30 different themed-rooms in a twostory warehouse in New York that included tastings and concerts for just two nights, putting invites out on websites in the area. “We had lines out the door,” she says of that event. Later, they created a popup general store for Jack Daniels that celebrates the brand’s 100 years recreating a general store in Lynchburg, Tennessee, including a fully functioning bakery and barber shop.
“The general store will pop up for a week in a different location,” Felicia says noting locations such as Chicago, San Francisco, and Austin. All of this creative marketing experience made her more than qualified to help her sister.
“She did all of my branding,” Ashley says of Felicia, noting that she designed her logo, business cards, and even some booths at events.
Felicia says she pondered how to put the camera, lens and horse together in a logo for Ashley Neuhof Photography. Ultimately, she designed a logo where “the highlight of the camera is the face of the horse.”
“It was before she had really taken off at all,” Felicia says of when she created Ashley’s logo. However, that has changed. “Now that she’s really going strong, she can be noticed just by the lens and the horse.”
Ashley’s real break came at the Second Annual Central Park Horse Show sponsored by Rolex. “The agreement was they could use any of the images I took,” Ashley says. They used a number of her images and she was soon hired to work for them on events they sponsored.
“The momentum just stated to build,” she says. As her name and photos got out there, so did her logo. “People recognize me based on the logo she created,” Ashley says of Felicia.
In addition to contracting with Rolex, Ashley has taken photos for
Chronicle of the Horse and Horse and Style magazines, among others, and has branched into her niche, which is to take photos documenting the personal connection between the rider and the horse. She says she tries to capture “the overall encompassing feeling of being at that show, that day, with that horse.”
“It’s more visual storytelling,” she says noting that she tries to be a fly on the wall as she documents the rider and horse throughout their daily routine. “You want to show them in the best light possible. As a horse person, this gives me an edge.”
In this capacity, Ashley is hired privately by individuals who want to capture their horse show experience. Recently, she was hired by Jennifer Gates, daughter of Bill and Melinda Gates, who was on the Global Champions Tour in Cannes, Monaco, Paris, Estoril, and Chantilly with her team from Evergate Stables.
“As a photographer and artist, it is the most rewarding to work with someone like Jennifer who values the type of photographic material that I create and trusts me to be in her space during high pressure competitions in electric atmospheres. I think we have a very comfortable working relationship in this way and knowing I am there to document some of those special once in a lifetime moments for her and her team is a true honor in every sense,” Ashley says.
Both Ashley and Felicia, who share an apartment in Brooklyn when not traveling, say they love their careers.
“People say pick a job that even if you did not get paid you would do it anyway and this is it. It is a culmination of everything I have done in my life,” Ashley says.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have landed here,” Felicia adds
This article first appeared in the August 3, 2017 edition of the Vermont Standard.