And so the days are filled...

17 March 2006

We interrupt this sporting broadcast to bid adieu

As I have been hinting for several days now, it is finally time for Days Full to bid adieu to one of our most beloved contributors, Ashley the Professional Photographer. (I should explain that he is a professional photographer by virtue of being paid in 50 cent chocolates for each of his stunning photo shoots.)

Readers were first introduced to Ashley's work in August 2005 when he showcased the newly completed Rogue. Following on from that success, I contracted him to photograph the Delightful Ms Leaves poolside, for posting on the Stitch Ya Neck Out swap blog. After a tough day in the sun photographing the beginnings of Ene, Ashley's work made a stunning leap into the wild blue yonder with his innovative work on the beginnings of Kiri, where he chose to display the knitting against a subtle backdrop of an historic etched window pane from Bronte House. From there his work progressed rapidly and came to the attention of a truly global audience. Here are some more of his highlights:
Because he is usually the silent man behind the camera, I thought readers would be interested in meeting Ashley 'in the flesh' so to speak. Here is a transcript of a short interview conducted on the eve of his departure for Japan.

Q: How did you get interested in photography, generally, and why did you get involved in knitwear photography?

A: I was about 5 years old when I got my first camera. I guess it was really just like having a new toy at the time…and it still is! Only when I got into my teens did I discover it could be an artistic tool as well…as for knitwear, well, let’s face it, it’s every photographer’s dream to “make it” as a knitwear specialist. Capa, Dupain and Mapplethorpe all died never having quite achieved the goal, although there might have been a scarf in the beach bag in the corner of a couple of Max’s shots once…I still don’t consider myself quite “there” yet, but shall pursue the Dream to the last!

Q: Who has influenced your work as a knitwear photographer the most?

A: I consider my style completely independent of influence, purely my own baby, baby. To be frank, The Rev. Fred Nile has influenced me more than any other knitwear snappers.

Q: What knitwear photography moments do you recall as being particular highlights in your career?

A: Long, sultry days by the side of the pool, wool against the wood and the water…you can see why it’s a glamour profession. I guess that day when Kate Moss was wondering around in some kind of daze and her sweater caught on the corner of a mirror someone had carelessly left lying on a table and then unraveled…oh how we laughed! Luckily, Kate also saw the funny side before she passed out.

Q: What about working with models - is it as difficult as the media would have us believe?

A: Well, I’ve been using a Nikon model D100, and it’s been fine most of the time. It demands spring water flown in daily from the Andes and fresh Indian saffron on its curries, but is much less demanding than your average Hasselblad.

Q: What inspires you in your knitwear photography?

A: Strictly serious now – colour, geometry and background context, the same things that inspire all photos I take…and also the promise a my 50-cent chocolate payment at the end of the shoot.

Q: What is most important in a good knitwear shoot - a good location, a good product, a good model, or a good camera?

A: Ah, trick question, but I’m onto you, Meg! Great knitwear, of course!

Q: Photoshop: friend or foe?

A: Illicit lover who keeps well hidden but still manages to make you look better. Now leave us alone…

Q: How has being a famous knitwear photographer changed the way you are treated in public? Do you see your celebrity as a type of 'currency' (as it was recently described by Bono) which you can spend to help raise awareness of social justice issues?

A: Social justice is overrated. If we were all equals, everyone would be photographing knitwear professionally, and the world would run out of 50-cent chocolates. Nobody in their right mind, wants that, and neither does Bono for that matter. I must admit I find myself forced to live a closeted existence, holed up with my darling Photoshop, as a result of the fame…is that social justice? I ask you…

Q: We have heard you are moving overseas. Is this move designed to further your knitwear photography career?

A: I have to escape this vicious circle and give up knitwear photography for ever. To be honest, it’s destroyed my life. I find myself a sycophant to the highest bidder, morally corrupt, and addicted to 50-cent chocolates. I’m artistically spent. There isn’t a single decent shot left in me, apart from this parting shot – “May you all get together one day and knit a nice runner for the stairway to heaven!” Now that’s one picture I think I could still take an interest in…
I am sure readers will join me in wishing Ashley a happy life in Japan with his beautiful wife and daughter. Maybe he will even send us a photograph or two of the knitwear he happens to encounter there...or, failing that, we'll be happy with any old happy snap. Farewell old chum, and do stay in touch!