Inspired by his theatrical background, Ransom Ashley’s photographs could be stills from a film reel; steeped in nostalgia and reflecting the uncanny side of the American south. We spoke to the 24-year-old photographer and actor about his work and what it’s like to grow up as “different” in Louisiana.

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Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Ransom Ashley, I’m an actor and photographer from Louisiana, born and raised in Shreveport, a small town in the northwest. I'm also finishing a degree in psychology.

How would you describe your style?

I’m very influenced by my hometown, which has always felt quite stagnant and stuck in time. I always felt that it had an isolated, retro feel - being quite geographically and culturally isolated anyway - and I think that this is reflected in my work. My style is also quite cinematic, influenced by my background in theatre and film.

What motivates you?

My photography and acting are both very much fuelled by by my coming of age experience and the internal conflict that growing up as someone who was ‘different’ caused, it’s always been very cathartic for me to connect through my work with others who have had similar experiences - I often find myself drawn to marginalised identities and character-based narratives that can tell those stories.

What are some of the themes running through your work?

My work has become an outlet for me to come to terms with a lot of the bullying I experienced while growing up, so I think there is a certain confused, unsettled and sometimes morbid element running through it. What it specifically represented always alluded me until someone saw my work and said, "identity". I would definitely say identity, isolation, anonymity, and the coming of age experience are all somehow melodramatically intertwined within my work.

What’s it like to be an artist living in Louisiana?

It's pretty challenging. I don't think very many people where I'm from have a developed concept of what it means to be an artist so it definitely shapes the value people give to you and your work. There is also a lack of resources to realize your ideas down here. For instance, we don't have a photo supply store or a printer in Shreveport and if I want to shoot an editorial I am the one choosing the makeup, clothes, location, building the set, etc.

Who are your influences?

My influences have evolved a lot in the past year. I was initially drawn to very cinematic and more contrived pieces like those of Cindy Sherman, especially early in her career when she did film stills. I think this was because my photography has always been quite a theatrical exercise for me, a way to express my emotions, perhaps in a more dramatized way. These days I am more into the capturing of people and the exploration of certain subcultures, especially in small-town Louisiana.

When choosing models what do you look for?

All of my models are my friends, so I try and capture their personalities in some way. I find that shooting those I know and love gives my work a richness and authenticity that it wouldn't have otherwise.

What camera do you use?

I use a few different cameras, from old Yashicas for film to my Canon 5D when I shoot digital, which is most of the time when I'm in Louisiana because there’s nowhere to get my film developed.

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You can visit Ransom Ashley by heading here.