Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dustbowl Continues...

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


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

Friday, September 09, 2011

"Project Muse" Workshops are open for enrollment! | Finally.

Update: Sold out through August 2012. Have a few spaces left for September/October enrollment. As of now, I believe there are *two*.
Please email to book:


Original post ...

(Course Description)

"Project Muse" | The Process of Inspiration and Awakening the Artist Within is a one on one masterclass, able to be taken from anywhere in the world and, for the most part, at your convenience.

This course consists of several one on one online chat sessions with myself and is chalk full of surprises, which I believe are so important in the process of creating. It also includes a very extensive package, via mail, for you to learn from and follow along with, in your own time. The in-the-mail 'kit' comprises much of the masterclass. Our individualized chat sessions add to the extensive package sent, and are where we get to interact, one on one. The chat sessions will tackle any problems or issues (also any questions) that you may be having, offering help to you in your journey as an artist, both personally and professionally, at whatever level.

Want to know more?

Project Muse is a course that explores (through my own life and work experiences, techniques, exercises, and approaches - the ones I've utilized over the last 6 years) how to find and then master yourself as an artist and person and how to continue to learn and grow. It's a course that shows you not only how to become inspired, but also fulfilled in your own creativity, whether you are a commercial photographer or fine artist, whatever your goals may be.

It's a very spirituality based and hands on approach to not only mastering your camera and becoming a better photographer, but also an immersion in who you are as a person and what that means for your vision and message and art. Further: how to apply that to your photography and get it back out of your camera and lenses.

This is not an Fstop class. This is a life class for Photographers.

Simply put, "Project Muse" is a journey back to yourself, through so many new doors. It's focused around you and your camera, but it goes so much further. You could also consider it a photographically focused ‘life detox’.

*Beyond the process of inspiration, Project Muse will include my natural lighting techniques (I work 100% on location and in every condition possible) and further insights into getting the most from your shoots, from concept to your model.

*Lastly, Project Muse will also offer an intro into my processing techniques and recommendations. We will also venture into finding your own techniques.

The rest is a surprise.

This is not a class you've taken before and that's a very, very good thing.

**OF NOTE: I recommend anyone wanting to take this course to have already followed myself and my work for at least 3 months, so that you already have a basic understanding of how I work, in front of as well as behind the camera.


Q: Do I need a fancy schmancy camera to take this class?
A: I couldn't care less about the camera that you have. This isn't that class and, in fact, by the end of the course you aren't going to care, either.

Q: I notice some of your offerings have been women only. Is Project Muse something that a guy can take?
A: You bet.

Q: What do I need to bring with or make sure I have before I sign up?
A: Just bring your heart and own any sort of camera. Truly, that's all. We are getting back to basics.

Q: Is this a class that explores many areas of my life?
A: Yes.

Q: Is this class unconventional?
A: Absolutely.


Enrollment for this class is very limited.

I will be taking deposits to hold places now. The other half being due after the 1st of January, 2012.

Project Muse will be offered (this year is already booked) in February/March 2012.

For further questions or to book your space, please inquire within:

- Ash