In the mere days since we ran Ashley Armitage’s last photo series, she has been profiled in City Arts and her work graces the cover of this week’s Stranger.
The photos above showcase Ashley’s eye for naturally sophisticated lighting and continue to play with ideas about the feminine mystique -which is quickly becoming the photographer’s signature – the shoot also marks another collaboration with Model/Stylist Stella Hawthorne.
We’ve included photos from a previous series to highlight Ashley’s range of work. The Cake Series(below) is very centred in spirited girlhood while the Mercedes Series (above) paints Stella in a sophisticated, more “womanly” fashion. How seamlessly the artist and model make the transition between the two is a great tribute to their mutual talents. We chatted briefly with both women about this process.
Ashely: Last spring it was our mutual friend’s birthday on a dock at Green Lake. We sat next to each other and ended up talking about energy healing, psychic stuff, and intuition. Stella guessed something about me that was spot on and then we started finding more and more similarities in our lives- like how we both always look at the time when it’s 4:44. We felt like kindred spirits so it was only a matter of time before we started working together. We both do photography and Stella has this amazing collection of vintage clothing for styling.
Stella: Working with Ashley is different. She is very inclusive and you see that in her work. There’s no hiding. That’s why her friends/models are so comfortable! When I have a suggestion she moves to where I am and looks through my eyes as well. It’s very different from other photographers I’ve worked with. Ashley’s photos are so soft, there is a kind of sheer curtain-like mood to them. It is not like being completely exposed because as a model you become apart of the environment…the natural light is exposed too and so is the shimmer and glow. She is a friend, so it’s comfortable. We are sexual beings and being photographed by a lady reinforces the friendship and closeness that we as women share.
Ashley: And with Stella it’s nice because she brings a set of eyes that I never would have seen through. She has eye for color. She’s very detail-oriented. While we were getting ready for the shoot she made sure the models knew what the film was about and streamed it on the internet while doing makeup.
Ashley: My photography started out as a personal project and now it’s becoming more of a lifestyle. I like to embrace a form of femininity that I can relate to. I’m inspired by color, by objects, and by my friends. I’m much more inspired by my friends than I am films or other photographers.
I don’t set a rigid plan for my photo shoots; I like to think of them as more fluid. Before a shoot, I will set a framework but the real creativity is in the process itself. The work happens not because of my plan, but through the collaboration of my friends and me. Each photo shoot is different depending on the people I shoot because of what they bring to the table. In my shoots I often ask my friends “Do you guys want me to shoot something?” or “Are you seeing something that I’m not?”.
Ashley: In mass media female bodily functions are shunned and hidden. This is something I like to combat. This is beautiful and natural and I like to highlight that in my work. I like to show the objects that girls use like tampons, razors, and makeup. I’ve shot girls in the privacy of their bedrooms and bathrooms getting ready, applying makeup, gossiping. These are things that are often shown in media as vain or catty. In my work I want to reclaim and reframe them as positive. My photos that show my friends getting ready aren’t staged. Sometimes in the first few minutes of these shoots my friends are a bit insecure because they are facing themselves in the mirror while a camera is present. At first they’ll ask me how they look. I just affirm that they look beautiful. In the end it’s so comfortable. This security is visible in the photographs.