Ransom Ashley | Austin, Texas
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work
I’m a photographer and actor from Louisiana. I studied photography and film at Parsons The New School for Design but eventually went on to receive my degree in psychology. I’ve shown work internationally and am currently working on an upcoming book project that explores the nuances of the LGBTQIA+ community in the South.
What first got you interested in photography?
I first became interested in photography when I was about 13. I grew up acting in my school and community theaters and fell in love with storytelling and the power it gave me to escape my situation as someone who was heavily bullied in my small Christian school. I later became involved with the various films that shot in my hometown after Katrina hit New Orleans and caused all of the productions to move upstate. My camera eventually became a conduit for me to exploring my own identity and the world around me.
How would you describe your approach to photography?
My approach is always very personal and is largely informed by my subject as well. I really strive for collaboration because I feel it allows the image to become something that is authentic to the both of us and has the capacity to live on. I am also heavily influenced by the nostalgia of my hometown and the movies I escaped in during my coming of age. All of these elements interact to inform my aesthetic.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about being a photographer?
The most challenging thing about being a photographer is illuminating the way you see people and the world. It often deviates from other peoples perspectives, especially of themselves. This can be quite challenging especially when you are trying to communicate an idea or tell a story.
Tell us what gear you use, what is your favorite equipment to use?
I love film although I don’t have the time to shoot it much anymore. My favorite analog camera is my point and shoot Yashica T4 and my go-to digital is my Canon 5D. Everytime I’m asked this question, I can hear my first year photography professor drilling into my head “The best camera is the one you have with you."
What advice would you have for other photographers?
Develop your differences. I struggled with this early on (and still do to a certain degree) because of the pressure I always felt to conform. Your differences are your strengths and the more time you spend understanding and exploring them, the stronger what you have to say will resonate. Authenticity is key and the more decisive you are about what you’re doing, the more people will stop and listen.