Ash Sealy Q&A
Ash Sealy talks photography with TheBlkGaze.
To me, the Black gaze is about redefining the stereotype often associated with a Black face. It is important to share my view despite adversity, as from those challenges comes opportunity and perspective.
How does this relate to your photography practice?
In essence, it drives me to challenge myself continually. I see my creativity as a gift, and I am therefore grateful for each opportunity to share my artistry with the world. Having a visual outlet and honing my vision through a lens enables me to visually chart my progress, which fuels me to keep going- and in so doing, add to the conversation around the importance of diversity and inclusion.
What do you want to say or address with your photography?
The very act of being both Black and a woman in a creative field is an act of defiance in itself, and therefore, each story I capture makes a difference. As a minority, my presence is part of that story.
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?
I’m captivated by the game of extracting the ideas in my head to physical concepts. I often take inspiration from the music I compose and the artwork I create. For me, every medium allows a different facet of an idea to form and manifest itself. Each project often has a soundtrack or a painting associated with it; even if not all elements see the light of day, they are essential in fleshing out the full story I aim to tell.
Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?
I came across Vera Jackson’s work recently, and I fell in love with it. The narrative style of her photography puts you into the scene as she saw it. I wanted to be a journalist when I was younger, and photojournalism has always captured my interest. Vera is particularly inspiring due to her dedication to telling the truth.
A majority of media (especially in the 1940s and later around the civil rights movement) painted a homogeneous picture of Black people, often negative. Highlighting the inequalities and hardships of minorities isn’t as newsworthy as the Black on Black crime or the lowest common denominator that will keep us in a box.
Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?
I didn’t take myself seriously as a photographer until it was the only method of communication I had left. Going to a predominately white university and being the only Black person on my course for the first year made me invisible yet hyper-visible at the same time.
From that, I was only known as ‘the Black girl’ consciously or not; I could feel it. Going to events, I was othered a lot of the time, but the performance events were compulsory for my music degree. My mum is actually the one that told me to bring my camera, as I did not want to go, at least I would get some nice pictures.
Through photography, I was able to disrupt others’ narrative about me and create my own. It started a dialogue that showed me for more than my skin tone. What began as a low transformed into me starting my photography business whilst at university and changing my life in ways I didn’t think were possible.
What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?
I’m doing a lot of events photography at the moment. My favourite type of events to shoot are concerts, as it combines my passion for music and photography. There’s nothing like capturing the energy exchange between performers and their audiences. The whole atmosphere is electric, and each moment is one of a kind. The common denominator in all my work is storytelling, and I would love the opportunity to help more people speak their truths without words.
About Ash Sealy
London-based Ash Sealy is a photographer, creative consultant and web designer. Ash recently graduated with a degree in Music from the University of Southampton. Inspired by music, colour and soulfulness, Ash specialises in portraits, music, fashion and corporate photography for clients across the UK.
You can find more of Ash’s work on her Instagram account.
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The Q&A is an ongoing discussion open to Black photographers of all ages, genders and genres.