Not your average storyteller. Exclusive Interview with Reana Ashley
Model: Eleesia Moragne @dark_icee Model: Matthew Forsyth @matthew_foryth_’s Model: Adrienne (Clarke) Forsyth @adrienne_forsyth_ Model: Madelyn Dover @x_atomicpunk_x Wardrobe Stylist/Photographer/Retoucher/Creative Director: Reana Ashley @reanaashley
To begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how did you get into photography world? Do you have any formal training in your background?
I got into photography when I was about eight years old. My father had posters of James Dean in his music studio. One image in particular always fascinated me. It was called Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Gottfried Helnwein. Even though I was too young to know anything about the artist or James Dean, the photo moved me at a young age. I then got a Crayola disposable camera; I ended up taking pictures of everything.
Mostly my toys, nature, and random candid photos of my family. I would take pictures literally every week to drop off my film to Eckerds, a popular pharmacy store at the time, to see how my pictures turned out. I haven't stopped taking photos ever since. No formal training at all; I never went to school for it. I taught myself how to shoot in manual and trained my eye to see what I thought was art.
What's the best part of being a photographer? What do you love the most about your job?
I love the creative process. I try to paint a story through each photo I take. So most of the time, I'm researching a particular subject and figuring out how I can incorporate it into my work.
How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of look do you try and create in your photos?
I saw this quote about one of my inspirations: "a build-up of images, often in sequences. There is a connection between them all. Basically, a one-trick pony". That's the best way I can honestly describe myself and the kind of look I go for.
How did you move specifically towards portrait photography?
I moved into portrait photography when I started researching a lot of famous painters that inspired me.
In your opinion, what makes the good picture stand out from the average?
A good picture, to me, stands out when it has a lot of emotion and can tell a story.
What type of projects are dearest to your heart? Why?
"Girl with the yellow dress" because two images out of that project I tried to create a painting, and it's literally one of the first photos I ever took that I felt I created in my style. One, in particular, is called "Sun in the field."
What advice would you give to someone looking at a career in photography?
Try not to look for criticism. Learn your camera and develop your eye. Be you, stay original.
What is your favorite thing to shoot for yourself?
Street photography is my favorite.
What inspires you and what gives you ideas to create your beautiful images? Can your ideas change depending on the model you are working with?
I think looking up to my top 5 people for inspiration which are Gottfried Helnwein, Marilyn Manter, Dennis Stock, Annie Levinbotiz, and Nigel Shafter helped me develop my artistic style. But I often go to today's issues in society and anything I feel personally about for inspiration. My ideas change constantly depending on the model, but the message I try to come across stays the same.
What projects are you working on next, and what are your goals for the future?
Two projects that come to mind right now are showing how strong Asian women can be. They're often looked at as soft, beautiful, and submissive. Another is inspired by the famous painting "Girl with a pearl earring." My future goals are to continue producing work that speaks to me and whatever blessings that come with that I'm thankful to God for.
Where can we see more of your works and get connected with you?
You can see more of my work on my website, reanaashley.nyc