Two very different cultures are part of her identity, with a Dad from Ghana and a Mom from the northern part of Germany called East Frisia. She grew up in Mönchengladbach in a very sheltered home, raised by her Mom and has followed a rather straight path in life, confidently taking one step at a time. The real fun started after she graduated from University – the excitement of freedom and self-fulfillment.
S2S met with Ashley to find out more about her life in front of the camera as well as her passion for being behind it.
S2S: Who is behind the real Ashley Jones ? What makes you the photographer that you are and what brought about your passion for photography ?
AJ: I would certainly describe myself as both a colorful and ambitious person. Things that play around in my head, I generally find myself bringing them into reality. It goes without saying, however, that my life process, as is for every other person, has a lot to do with patience and hope.
Having successfully completed my degree in Architecture and Interior Design in Düsseldorf in 2010, I was immediately drawn to traveling. After experiencing the highs and lows of backpacking an entire year around Australia, I became a new person. While living abroad, I came to the conclusion that I no longer wished to earn my keep as an architect, instead following my passion for photography.
With the money I earned in Australia, I was finally able to afford a suitable camera that fulfilled one of my life’s dreams.
S2S : On the 23rd of August, your work can be admired at Berlin’s Studio 8 in Wedding. The exhibition’s title is « Shaped – Individual Equality » and describes indeed individual equality. It principally focuses on the fact that we are all humans. The foundation of one’s face and body is virtually the same for all humans. What stimulated you to undertake this project ?
AJ: My project « Shaped – Individual Equality » was brought about, like my whole life, by more or less a planned coincidence.
I like to experiment with light and shadow in order to take the emphasis off the most important parts of my subject matter. As a result, the first such portrait emerged during a photo shoot with my sister. The chosen light coupled with a puristic face aroused the thought of creating a series.
The nude images meanwhile took shape through a spontaneous photo shoot with my friend in our own attic. There I was able to find a marvelous and, to me, very rough atmosphere that in connection with her only afterwards called for various scenes to be set there.
Both of the fundamental images were brought to life independent of each other, though after long consideration do share a lot in common. The self-described ‘individual equality,’ as I see it, is identified within both series and as such the variety of which confirms my statement.
I find both series so expressive that I simply must show them within the framework of an exhibition. Observing images from an analogue perspective creates a different feeling than just catching a quick glimpse of them in the giant mass of the Internet.
S2S: What sort of people did you encounter during your photo shoots ? How did they come to your attention ?
AJ: A large proportion of the images portray my friends and family. In order to capture as many diverse faces and bodies as possible, I was able to discover other perfect motifs through my close contacts.
I have been truly amazed by the openness, trust and undoubting cooperation from all involved. The portraits, especially the nude series, deal with very intimate images, though I did not sense any inklings of shame or embarassment during any of the photo shoots.
S2S: Who do you want your exhibition to speak to?
AJ: To everyone. I consciously afford my images a degree of anonymity so as to be able to reach the widest public as possible.
Every human is despite his or her individual being still the same. We all came into the world the same way and we all undisputedly have the same basic needs in life. The individual form of every human is based upon the same basic construction.
It is important to me that my pictures illustrate this message in order to provoke thought about this subject.
S2S: What meaning does equality have for you in your life and within the scope of social interaction ?
AJ: It personally pains me to see how incredibly quickly our world is developing. With time, larger and larger rifts between rich and poor are emerging – all of this happening throughout the entire globe. I simply cannot understand this strict division and the persistent ignorance. I am of the opinion that through constant societal development, the awareness of a social coexistence is slowly eroding. In this regard, we are all the same. Why should we be making differences ? Living as a collective instead of in competition – that is my utopia.
S2S: What does equality mean for you ?
AJ: Equality for me is everybody in the same boat, joining forces and paddling together.
S2S: You have made a very easy-going, confident and open impression on me. How is it when you encounter strangers ? Do you ever have prejudices ?
AJ : Yes, those characteristics describe me well. I am a very social person and love to be around people. Through my passion of traveling the world in my own ‘low-budget’ style, I have always been dependent on the help of strangers. This consequently has carved my way in these foreign surroundings and leads from one adventure to the next.
This openness naturally helps me in my day-to-day life and opens countless unexpected doors that mold my future.
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Studio 8 Berlin