Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Ashleigh Castro from the San Francisco pop-up:
Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.
When I started photographing I found most of my inspiration within the ANSWER coalition's movement against George W. Bush when I was 14. My dad would bring me to protests in San Francisco and I found that documenting these events yielded powerful photographs of an oppressed nation. I guess you can say my inspiration began in San Francisco. After this I started documenting events of all kinds ranging from concerts to the school yearbook. Today I have come a long way with the experiences of my youth and continue to be inspired by movements and musicians by documenting the Occupy Movement (New York and San Francisco) occasionally and some of my favorite musical acts. I started by photographing with film and fell back in love with the medium when I started photographing with a friend's Rolleiflex. Now my favorite camera to use is my twin lens Minolta Autocord. Although my background is mainly photojournalism, I also have an artistic conceptual side to my work that began in college and keeps growing. I'm a big fan of natural light and candid portraiture.
How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?
I heard about the Crusade through a website called Bay Area Art Grind. Since I graduated in the Fall from San Francisco State, I have been trying to get my work out there and known. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to bring one of my favorite portraits and see what emotions it evoked. I do believe that the art world has been consumed with business and capitalist ventures making it vaguely accessible to everyday people. I have sold that piece printed smaller for five dollars before. I just want people to feel the same joy as the lighter stashing hula hooper when they look at it.
Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase? Why or why not?
I was excited because I would get to meet new people and share my work with them, but I didn't know what to expect. I mainly was hoping to gain more traffic on my website I've been working on.
How did the event go for you? Was it like you expected or different? Better or worse?
I didn't really know what to expect but the event went well. I didn't realize how difficult it was to give away your art to people walking down the street. The whole process of looking at all five of the crusaders' art would take 5 minutes, but many people aren't willing to give you the time of day when they hear the word "free." I guess people conceive that as a gimmick. It made me feel like I was on RuPaul's Drag Race doing a street challenge. I had to alter my approach many times, but it kept me on my toes and was fun and exhilarating. For a while I had only given out two images but as time passed I started to pick up the pace. It was better than I expected in the end.
What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally? Do you think those are realistic expectations?
I hope people want to see more work from me and maybe one day I will be shooting somewhere and they will recognize me and we can converse about art in a less busy setting. I also hope people are intrigued enough with film to keep supporting film photographers in this digital age. I'm excited to email the people I've given work to and hear about how it functions in their lives and homes.
Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.
The image I gave away is titled "Pocket Socks". I took it during the one-year anniversary rally of Occupy SF on September 17, 2012 with Delta 3200 film at around 6 pm. The woman hula hooping was laughing to herself and seemed to be in a utopian world as music blared and stormtroopers guarded the banks. After I developed the film I realized she had a lighter in tucked into her tube socks. This image has resonated with me since I took it. You can see more of my work at www.ashleighcastrophoto.com or on Flickr for a more extended collection. My handle on instagram is @5_foot_assassin. You can also follow me on Tumblr.
If you're local to San Francisco you can see my work at 50 Mason Social House. The current exhibition "Peripatetic Muse" chronicles my venture across country on Greyhound (coming soon to the website) there were four images until someone stole one of them from the bathroom. But they left the frame, so it's kinda funny to me! This will be deinstalled April 16 and replaced with a new body of work from myself and members of the all female art collective called Diatribe for the show titled "Smoke Signals." The opening is April 19 at 50 Mason Social House from 7pm -1 am we will be accepting sliding scale donations $2 - $5 and the artists will be selling work at all kinds of prices and there will be great live music. Please come out and support!