Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interview: Ashley Church

Ashley Church is a 23-year-old photographer who lives here in Wellington, New Zealand but is originally from Phoenix, Arizona. Ash has been one of my very best friends since high school, and we shared a house together in our first year moved out of home. We took many many pictures and painted many many pages together during that time, and she is majorly talented. She's always working away on something, so click here to 'like' her Facebook page and stay updated, or here to visit her website, Dinosaurtoast.

Where is 'home'?
Home for me is where I feel most comfortable. It’s where I can sleep easily. I guess it’s anywhere my family and friends are.

What are your early photographic memories?
I dont remember the first time I took a photo... but I remember my first 35 mm film camera I was probably about 13. It was one of those snapshot ones, I’d take photos of everything, mostly my friends, print out the photos an stick them on my wall. I had a very large collection. I picked up my Dad's Nikon 35mm SLR a couple years later.. I must have been about 15. I’ll never forget the first time I was in a darkroom with Alice as my teacher... watching the image appear was like magic to me - kudos to you Alice for your constant inspiration throughout the past 7 years. It still is magic to me when I get the chance to develop my own films in a darkroom. I still have one of my first hand developed black and white images framed on my wall. Its of Alice and Kim on cuba street, Wellington and there’s a little black scotty dog in the background.

What photography qualifications do you hold?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Majoring in Photographic Design with First Class Honours.

Does a passion for photography run in your family?
My family definitely has a strong pull towards all things creative, not only photography. My Grandad is a reasonably well-known sculptor in the States. Starting with that as a base and then adding my mum and aunty into the equation... with drawing, painting, clay sculpting and photography. I think it was a natural succession that I enjoy being creative as well. I loved drawing and painting from a really young age.. I think I realised I had some skill when my Grandad entered me into an Arts in the Redwoods competition and I got placed.... I was about 5 years old and it was for one of my ‘fish people’ drawings..My dad also photographed me a lot when I was younger and I didn’t think anything of it until I picked up his Nikon and he never got it back.. haha. This led to taking art as a subject through out primary and high school, majority of it I spent painting, and sparked a keen interest in exploring a multitude of ways in capturing how I see things and understanding how things are seen.

What equipment do you currently use to take your photographs?
It depends usually on what im doing.. But I use a Nikon D80 SLR with my dad's manual 50mm lens. Its really nice playing with depth of field. I also spent last year photographing with a Bronica Medium Format camera and really enjoyed it. I still love using that when I have money to buy film and process it. I also shoot with a Holga when im feeling like a surprise bunch of photos. You never know what you’ll end up with. It’s nice.

What software do you use to edit your photographs?
I use Adobe Photoshop, Bridge and Lighroom mostly. I taught myself quite a bit of Photoshop at high school. Learnt a lot at University about the best ways to use programs and got a lot of practice there.

Do you prefer shooting with film or digital?
That age old question haha... Is digital photography taking over the world?...who knows.. maybe... but probably not.... people still paint right..? Again it really depends on what I’m shooting. I really really enjoy film. I always have enjoyed film actually... Even with my first snapshot 35mm camera. I just love the feeling of not completely knowing how they will turn out... And the colour is better. Its almost like comparing a home made cheeseburger to a McDonalds cheeseburger.... There both fucking delicious but it totally depends how you feel at that deliciously hungry moment. The thought process is different when shooting analog and digital and it varies with each camera I use. With my medium format I take a bit more time to get each shot exactly how I want it, but at the same time I enjoy shooting digital for the obvious reason of; instant feedback. I’ll pick up a Holga if I want mystery and surprise. I usually use digital for my fashion shoots... Thats not to say I wont bust out film at a fashion shoot at all... I spose if the shoot is personal I’ll usually dabble in both formats to get the best outcome for the project.

Will photography become your career?
Its going to be a major part of my life/career, yes definitely. I would love to make money photographing people. Whatever I do I want to be working with people... I think fashion  and portrait photography is the genre I have most fun with. I love being an imagineer... and imagining crazy scenes up and then making them happen visually and capturing the process... so full time imagineer is what im going to do... whether it be a career or personal I guess depends on how much people relate to my work... and how much I push it!

What experience do you have exhibiting your work?
I’ve exhibited professionally twice once with a large group of 12 people and once with 2 others. Organisation in advance is key. Doing your research and talking to as many people about how they exhibited their work and looking at a variety of places to print and frame work to get the best prices is another thing that helps a lot. Also checking over your prints to make sure they’re in good condition before you pay for them. Have fun while your doing it, it’s a great way to get a huge range of response an feedback for your work. Also and exhibition may not be the absolute final process that a body of work will go through. It might be just a stage of understanding where to go next.

What inspires you?
As cheesy as it sounds.. Life inspires me. Passionate people/artists inspire me. My friends and family  inspire me and the vulnerability of humans when they are intimate with one another inspires me. There’s a Nan Goldin quote that I read last year and couldn’t forget.... “For me its not a detachment to take a picture. It is a way of touching somebody - It’s a caress. I am looking with a warm eye, not a cold eye. I’m not analysing whats going on - I just get inspired to take a picture by the beauty and vulnerability of my friends.” - Goldin

What is your favourite subject to photograph?
People are definitely my favourite they're the most diverse subject for me... so many people and so many life experiences.

How many photos would you say you take during a shoot, before finding "the right one"?
Really depends on the project...But usually more than 50 images.

Did you study photography during your high school education? If so, do you believe you have benefited more from these lessons or your own experimentation?
I didn’t ‘study’ photography until 7th form... and this gave me the motivation and drive to take on a four year degree..I think I learned in a different way at university than on my own accord. But pretty much I learn something, no matter how small, every time I pick up a camera. It’s all experience and practice in the end.

Have you experimented with any other forms of art?
Loads, I think its really important because other art forms give insight into new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

How would you describe your photography style?
This is probably the hardest question I’ve had to answer yet because it varies a lot in my eyes I am my own worst critic a lot of the time. So I asked my friend of 12 years.. She’s seen a lot of my work and seen how its changed throughout the years...She said this: “quirky, colourful, inciting, daring, beautiful and playful”.

What would you like to be photographing in five years?
I guess I’d like to be photographing much the same as I am now; people, fashion, interesting scenes, the good times and bands... just a lot more often and with more focus and direction.



JelenaDoll ~ said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow her photos are so unique. Very nice work =]
She sounds very inspirational, i like how she enjoys what she does especially from an early age.

Caitlin said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Very unique and lovely photographs, thank you for sharing!