Ashley Johnson

Portrait | Last Updated: February 16, 2021

Hi, I’m Ashley, a writer and creative entrepreneur living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

A UNCG graduate, I define myself as a mixed media artist by way of hand-crafted weavings, floral, woven, and braided masks and considers myself a documentarian and photographer by way of life.

I draw inspiration from the contemporary flash-form narrative as it is an art form that neither requires nor offers resolution. Noted for asking complex questions on black identity through highly stylized portraits, I was recognized in 2018 by Click Magazine as 20 Women Changing Photography.

The central thesis of my work employs photography, performance, textile, and live floral, woven, and braided masks to navigate intra-racial conflict, identity evolution, generational impact, Southern femininity, and studies of relative time as it relates to African American/feminine beauty practice.

Recent performances and solo shows include Reach: A live exhibition on hair identity and southern womanhood attracting over 300 guests and Through the Lens in partnership with SoHo House.

My Tools

My work has always been a lesson in resourcefulness. I’ve always been drawn canonizing my life by collecting objects and memories. Photography was another means to do that, however, I wasn’t always able to afford it.

To make up for the lack of resources, I leaned heavily on the sun—understanding its angles throughout the time of day within each season of the year. Reading the sun gives me control of the emotion my photos display. It shapes shadows and exposes all of my questions.

So through the years, I have always maintained a minimal camera bag. My camera body is the Canon 80D. I chose the Canon 80D as an upgrade from my Fujifilm X-T3 for better processing capacity and functionality enhancements like Wifi and touchscreen—which makes changing settings a breeze.

In my lens kit is the Canon 24mm f/2.8 “pancake” lens. I chose it for its speed, price tag, sharpness, and for simple wide shots. I once heard the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 be called the “wedding lens” for its versatility. It’s the number one reason why I needed it in my kit.

It’s perfect for a broad range of lighting situations and beautiful on portraits—not to mention a sincere crispness that brings everything to life. The last lens in my kit is the “nifty 50”. The Canon 50mm f/1.8. I do quite a bit of video work and I admire this lens for the beautiful autofocus effect in post-production. | @hiaj

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