If you are new to this collection I cannot recommend highly enough to read THIS POST before you continue. (A description of what "Dustbowl" is as well as the first images, which are not included within this post.)
Some collections can be appreciated for their visuals alone but, as mentioned before, this particular collection (truly) loses so much of the message and value without knowing my intention, vision and motivations to begin this series.
Alright then, back to "Dustbowl".
A few little notes I wanted to touch on:
This collection has really been an amazing endeavor, thus far. It's been a really fantastic balance in my life that I, though I was much looking forward to beginning it, never anticipated having it affect me so greatly. I truly never thought I'd say that about a contemporary photography collection.
To elaborate, through my entire career (thus far) I've made it such a habit to be sure to get 'the shot' and pick the most beautiful shot of the roll (the best eye contact, the best composition, the most visually splendid, otherworldy, out of time, etc...) but with dustbowl it's been a bit of a re-write in those habits. Unlike my other (very stylized and whimsical) collection "Faerieland", where everything is nothing short of a completely idyllic world of characters who live in beautiful abundance (heavy emphasis on scenery, bold colors, perfect beauty in every new character and sense of the word, perfect darkness in their symbolism, perfect light and perfect innocence, props, makeup, hair, etc...) "Dustbowl" is the exact opposite. It's been an interesting Summer creating for both of these (vastly different) collections, oftentimes shooting for each within the same week. One is a giant production (and I LOVE that) and one is (Dustbowl) a very purposeful effort to avoid a large production.
This entire collection is, of course, also intended to be visually (I hope) arresting, but I want this collection to maintain complete authenticity in recreating what those brave people (and that era) went through, and so I have consciously (before, during, after planning) every shoot, said to myself: "Ashley, don't do the most beautiful. do the most authentic". Beyond that, I have truly wanted Dustbowl to actually feel like one is looking at an old photo album, maybe something they found in their grandparent's attic, and much of the imagery during that time was a very 'snapshot' style. People weren't posing. Instead, they were being caught on film. In keeping with my desire to really honor that spirit, when I go into choosing selects from each shoot, after they wrap, I find myself having to pass over that really incredible, power beauty shot (which is soooooo hard, when I've trained myself to see it and edit that one) in favor of one that is a bit 'uglier' or grittier, and bit more spontaneous (eye contact, emotion, clothing, off center, etc...). I have very much tried to select and edit the pieces that are the lot less obviously 'beautiful' choice and possibly more haunting because of it. Mid gaze. Turning away. Unflattering poses. Overly simplified concepts. New (more contemporary) compositions. Less is more scenery. Lack lack lack. Experimental vantages. Breaking the 'beauty' rules, so to speak. Just... all around, more real. Almost like I'm shooting the entire thing by accident, or chance. And it's been tough, but such a fulfilling venture.
Lastly, I am just happy you guys support such different styles of my work. One day I'm talking about dragon's eggs (will post that shot verrry soon ;) and getting lost in faerieland and the next day I'm posting dirt poor portraits and talking about the 30s. ;)
This collection will slowly build and become more and more intricate in the messages, and imagery. I'm so thrilled to continue as Fall begins to wake. There is much to come, a great deal of which is just a big heartbreaking surprise. I'm leaving it that way. This collection, above all else, is not just suppose to be pretty. And, so, it will continue to become less so. Of course I will always do my best to maintain my sort of photographic mantra: "light amidst the darkness".
(And, since blogspot infamously mangles image quality, I will have an actual high res. gallery for Dustbowl, on my website, very soon. I've even chosen the new accompanying music! I'm so excited to share these there, with that audio. It took forever to find a suitable soundtrack. ;)
For now, please enjoy this next sequence.
an example of playing with less emotion, opting for a more vacant moment:
an example of trying to catch someone mid gaze, before the full emotion:
an example of experimenting with a new (more contemporary) vantage, and choosing just a slightly unflattering pose:
an example of an overly simplified photo:
Okay, kiddos, this little filly is off to bed. The farm is blanketed under the very first night of cold frost and a perfect silence. The kind of silence that you notice. I'm finishing this jar of tea and going to bed under warm quilts and soft piano. Ash x
ppps. THANK YOU FOR SELLING OUT "PROJECT MUSE" WORKSHOPS IN JUST OVER 24 HOURS!
A note to my registrants: You are all so brave. If you maintain that courage, while experiencing the class, you will find yourself changed because of it. xo