SIAN ASHLEIGH

Confidence is very important in this industry. Maybe I'd be getting further quicker if I had more (laughing) I suppose I just fake it. --But only the second the model appears and not a second before. Before then I doubt just about everything despite 90% of my shoots having a definite plan. Then, as soon as a model appears and we start make up or start a shoot straight away, I wait for it to click. Connecting with a model is so important on a shoot. You have to be able to laugh and get on to get the kind of shots I like doing. My portfolio is progressing to quite bright and fun shots and people tell me I have a definite style now. That wasn't even apparent a year ago. Maybe summer helps...

 

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Women were a natural progression, yes. I started shooting my friends with a twelve shot disposable camera in changing rooms and against bed sheet back drops when I was fourteen to Spice Girls soundtracks... I have a lot of guy friends. I'm good with guy friends. Guys in general though, make me nervous. Always have done! I do shoot them occasionally, I'm even pretty good at it! They just make me nervous. Which is ridiculous. I'm a grown woman, interested in men's styling (GQ is one of my favourite magazines) and yet I would be uncomfortable as hell on my own on a shoot with a guy (laughing). It's always been that way as long as I can remember. I used to be like Stan from South Park.. but with boys. Women, however, are magical, beautiful creatures that can light up when they smile and move. I especially like the kind with freckles; makes them look extra pixie like. I like when women laugh and smile and capturing that on camera, especially on more risqué shoots. The combination of half nakedness and capturing laughter is great! J

 

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My Instagram feed does make it seem like I'm comfortable in my own skin, doesn't it!? In reality, I'm seriously not. The shots of me on my Instagram were either taken by myself because I had something new and wanted to photograph it or test it for an actual model shoot. New photography equipment or wardrobe or hair for example! I'm pretty comfortable photographing myself, though. I'll be the only one that looks through the shots and chooses the most becoming images. No one else has to see my disastrous process of trying to get a shot of myself where I'm not the most awkward person in the world (laughing). Seriously. Super awkward. I can move my body sure, but I never know what to do with my face. I tend to play on the aspect of me everyone brings up. 'Cuteness.' I'm uncomfortable with obvious or blatant sexuality. I don't think I can pull it off. A 'cute' kind of sexy, however, I can apparently do. When Quite Delightful got in touch originally, that/s what they liked. My 'cuteness.' They did try to delve deeper and get more of a raw sexuality but soon figured out I was incapable of giving that even when I tried! But they loved the cuteness so asked for a series of risqué portraits based on that. How it will gel with the rest of their very erotic and naked work is beyond me. I can't wait to see it printed (laughing). The other shots of me in my portfolio are by Jay Holzer. --Literally the only person I've ever trusted enough to photograph me 'déshabillé' after a little image change and purely to try and gain more self confidence! The illusive self confidence : p but I'm learning.

 

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All personal work (with the exception of big personal projects) are styled by myself either out of clothing already in my wardrobe or items I go out and buy. I love styling and fashion. I try and keep abreast of what's in both in my personal life and in my photography. Collaborating in personal work can be a little tricky. You want a big team for a big project but you still want it to be your vision. For instance, I did a Rapunzel themed studio shoot at the start of the year and had a stylist/designer on set to provide all the clothing. We spoke a lot leading up to the shoot to determine what I wanted but that it would still be in her style. Sometimes it's tough to give away control like that. It involves a lot of trust. My other collaborations with lingerie designers always go without a hitch, though. They agree to loan samples because they like my style of work. I can shoot it however I like. Lingerie designers are amazingly talented and trusting people. Beth Lissman designed and made me a bodysuit just for me to shoot in my own style recently and Colie-Co have sent me an array of samples to shoot however I like too. I'm shooting them with horses this week!

 

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When it comes to personal work, there is no conflict. It's my work, so I get to shoot what I want, 90% of the time. There does have to be a little give and take with what the model wants to do too! When it comes to paid commissions, there is a definite conflict. One one hand, surely the client booked you because they like your particular style of work? But on the other hand, and what happens most, is that they've seen you can photograph. That's all. They've seen you're capable of photographing and then ask something completely different of you than what you actually do. It's a job so nine times out of ten, you're going to completely bend to the clients will. Shoot whatever they, want, however they want. When this happens though, you tend to do what is asked of you and then shoot how you would have shot it at the end. A lot of the time when the client is choosing edits they usually go for the stuff you took it upon yourself to shoot. That's always rather gratifying.

 

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The most challenging aspect of my work is always the morning of the shoot before everyone arrives. I say this because every single time I'm on the verge of calling it all off. I never do, but it's usually my thought process. I want to crawl back into bed and hide from the pressure I've put on myself. I feel this way until I'm face to face with the model and start shooting. All the thoughts disappear then and I remember why I set up the shoot to begin with. The mild panic gives you a rush of adrenaline I suppose! I'm grateful that I get to do such a free and creative job at all.

 

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To be very honest, I try not to think too far into the future! I know you're supposed to have a five year and a ten year plan but that really does unnerve me! Hugely. Photography is a risky business. You never know how long you're going to be making money in it. --Especially being freelance. It's a terrifying thing! There's no security. Of course, I'd like to be doing this for a very long time but if for some reason that could happen I've recently been thinking about how ideal it would be to work for a model agency. Maybe start off dealing with the new faces... but that's a long way off yet. Hopefully.

 

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The end of civilzation will be caused by: Hopefully something zombie related. If it happens in my life time... I have my plan.

 













01 // Katie Crosson // katiecrosson
02 // Katie Crosson // katiecrosson
03 // Sho
04 // Ailyce Ridings // ailyce
04 // Pfi // pfionvince
05 // Uncredited
06 // Katie Crosson // katiecrosson
07 // Alice Ciancimino // alicechx
08 // Uncredited
09 // Uncredited
10 // Ailyce Ridings // ailyce
10 // Pfi // pfionvince
11 // Pfi // pfionvince
12 // Alice Ciancimino // alicechx
13 // Uncredited

 

Sian Ashleigh // sian_ashleigh_photo

 

JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.

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Submissions are always welcome to junk@junnnktank.com.