LGBTQ Photographer/Actor Ransom Ashley presents us with his unpublished series of images in collaboration with Italian Fashion Designer Nicola Romagnoli. The Parsons New York City graduate has seen his work presented in venues from New Britain Museum of American Art, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and Masur Museum of Art, amongst others.
Read our Full interview below.
Hi Ransom, thanks so much for talking with us, first of all, tell us a bit about your upbringing?
Absolutely! I was born and raised in a small (now somewhat budding) town in Northwest Louisiana called Shreveport. I knew quite early that I was different from my peers and after some pretty trying times in my Baptist Middle and High School, I found my outlet in the Arts.
When did you get into acting and did photography come first or after?
I first got involved in drama at my school but we didn’t have much money allotted for productions because of the precedence football took at my school. We had a big sports program, even at one point having Doug Pederson, who recently won the Super Bowl, as our coach. They took it very seriously so I then became more involved with my community theatre groups and then really fell in love with storytelling and end up using photography as a means of communicating and exploring narratives I cared about.
You are a Proud LGBTQ photographer, what do think the difference is between your work and those cis-genders others?
I imagine the main difference is in our experiences and the way we channel those into our work. My photography (and even acting work) and the emotions that inspire much of it are largely autobiographical and connected to my own story. At the end of the day, I’m a human being and I hope that people can connect emotionally with what I’m doing and that it can help us have a conversation that leads to some common ground.
How much does being a part of the LGBTQ community influence your vision and aesthetic?
I think that I now feel a greater sense of responsibility to create and help spark conversations that need to happen. When I look around at my friends and the issues they and I encounter, it is only natural that I would find it worthy of commentary because all of their stories, and not just mine, are important. Those I encounter and spend my life with inspire so much of what I see and hence, what I want to say.
Talk to us about your new series with Italian Fashion Designer Nicola Romagnoli, how did this come about?
Nicola and I met at Parsons in NYC and were living in New Orleans French Quarter together. We were fascinated with the energy of the city and wanted to create emotional narratives around its unique identity.
How would you describe the relationship between you and your hometown, Louisiana?
I didn’t realize how connected I felt to it until I moved to New York. It really shaped so much of my identity and gave me so many things I wanted to explore through my work. I feel that even though my coming of age experience in the South was less than ideal in many ways, the perspective it gave me on so many things helped me develop so much as an artist and as a person.
Is there anyone that truly inspires you?
Someone that sticks out in my mind is Holly Hunter. I had the chance to work with her and she had one of the strongest commitments to her craft that I’ve ever seen. There was no vanity with her: she was wholly devoted to the story in the most selfless way. People like that, and other artists that are fearless in passionate in what they do, inspire and liberate me.
Your Daily mantra?
Honestly, the psychological conversation I have with myself each day involves persisting through the disappointments and seizing every opportunity. I have been rejected far more many times than I have been given a shot, or booked, or included in a show, but I believe dreams are made of a bunch of little successes. Persistence is everything!
3 things you always carry with you?
iPhone, Amex, and some sort of camera.
What’s next for Ransom Ashley?
Right now, I’m talking to some publishers about putting a book out that will follow a lot of my early work up until now. I’m also creating a body of work that explores marginalized subcultures in Louisiana and hopes to put a show together soon. Other than that, just auditioning and working on film projects when I get a chance.
Where can followers and new discoverers find you and your work?
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