This month we sat down with photographer, director, and dear friend, Ashley Batz. We're lucky to call her a confidant, and in light of the pandemic, we've confided in each other throughout recent challenges.
From creative blocks to the changing expectations of visual storytelling, Ashley brings vulnerability, resilience, and empathy to the conversation. She's been a vocal, long-time advocate of paying creatives fairly and democratizing photography to include many voices and perspectives.
These days, Ashley is Lead Photographer at Everlane, but as you'll see from her personal portfolio, she is a woman of many talents. Give her a follow on Instagram and enjoy an original, inspiring visual world. Big thanks to Ashley for cheering us on and contributing to what we do at Confidants.
How are you? What's been bringing you peace/ good vibes these days?
I have my good days and my bad days - we all do, right? I find peace in the fact that we are all more or less in this together, and that between my loved ones and I, we all take turns having bad days and call out when we need a little extra love.
So many brands are re-assessing their campaigns to respond to current times. How do you think about visual storytelling right now?
I find that storytelling is actually more monumentally important than ever right now. I view (positive) storytelling as imperative to accomplish the following:
- stories need to represent the underrepresented
- stories should provide clarity, hope, plans for the future, and incite the feeling for personal action
- stories should bring communities together and bridge gaps between others
I think the more you can do that, the better we'll all be. Imagery is such an important aspect of humans' lives and we should treat it as such.
We saw your incredible work for Everlane's 6ft Away Series! So creative! How was shooting that most recent campaign- what was it like behind-the-scenes?
The 6ft Away Series came out of a need for me to tell the visual story about what people are doing right now, which is sheltering-in-place.
I drove to everyone's homes, photographed them outside in the neighboring blocks, connecting with people in a way that I used to when I started photographing people at the age of 14.
The biggest takeaway was ultimately personal: I was able to provide a different experience than the norm to someone, and I also walked away feeling like I had put more love into the world by doing so.
If you're open to it, would love to hear how you're navigating as a creative and professional photographer over the last few months?
It's been a wild emotional ride!
I've been told that well-made imagery will no longer be seen as 'authentic,' thus eliminating the need for a technically-versed or even seasoned photographer to create imagery.
I've been asked to do shoots by myself (subtext: I'm now the producer, stylist, assistant, etc) for less budget, with the client knowing that photographers will say yes because we need an income.
No matter what happens, I'll continue to advocate for the need of creatives and paying them fairly for their work.
Huge fan of your voice and perspective highlighting how professional photographers have a different lens (literally and figuratively) vs influencers.
Both are valuable, but not the same. What do you love about being a professional photographer- how does that drive your work/ perspective when it comes to producing campaigns?
I think of photography as a dialogue, when it is done at its best. I love connecting and collaborating with others, unifying my perspective with that of others.
There is value in having a singular perspective (the 'influencer' as their unique experience) as well as a shared perspective (the collaboration between a photographer, talent, and others on set).
Has creativity saved you or brought you joy during this time? Or has it felt harder to express yourself?
I've not felt creative in the slightest - I see creativity at the very top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for me, and it doesn't get me through the day.
However, I'm really leaning into witnessing the outpour of creativity and imagery from POC during this time, and am constantly looking for ways to lift up other voices.
We know from experience that you're a really collaborative, creative, adaptable partner to work with on projects. How have you adapted these last few months on set?
I thrive on collaboration, you're right! When making the idea of an image a reality these days, I'm working remotely with art directors over email and phone calls to understand their vision and in turn, require their trust in me and my knowledge to make it happen to the best of my ability and access to things involved.
A lot of shoots have reverted back to me, my camera, and the sun, so it's quite a change from what I'm used to. A lot of education and explanation will happen in order to communicate why an image did or didn't work.
Images of the creative process post-COVID- using tools online to edit, scope, create vision and then bring that to life.
Anything exciting you're working on next?
If we can all come up with a solid campaign to get everyone out to vote, that would be great! Let me know if you have any ideas.