Focus on Ashleigh...

So, whilst I've had a little time on my hands, I thought I'd start putting together some interviews with all the people I have worked with in the past couple of years. I've contacted a whole host of people and everyone has been really kind by agreeing to take part; the end goal is to collate the Q&A sessions into a little book - but we will see how it all turns out.

First up, Ashleigh Millman...

I only shot with Ash once, it was as a bit of a favour to another friend of mine, Kari, who had got hold of a camera and wanted to try it out. She'd asked if she sorted a model and some time if I'd come along and help. I'm not totally sure what Kari learnt from me that evening, but I met Ash and came away with a few great shots.

As we kept in touch it turned out she's great friends with my cousins (small world), and she's really busy! Although after I got in touch she made time to answer some questions...

Q - How have you been since we last shot? What have you been up to?

A - Hi Chris! Since we last shot, I’ve gone to university and have been focusing on that a lot more than my modelling unfortunately – I’m studying BA Film and English at Southampton. The holidays are coming up though and I have a few shoots lined up for the first time in a while which I’m very excited about! So hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of my face around than it has been at the moment. Other than that – I applied for the newest series of BNTM and got to the final stages of the auditions; but sadly didn’t quite make it to the house (this is like the Star Wars audition all over again… IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!)

Q - How did you get into the world of photography/modelling/makeup - what was your first shoot?

A - I actually got into modelling by buying a tin of corned beef. No, really. Royston Blythe salon is right next to the co-op and my dad needed some of that horrible ground meat - the stylists spotted me through the window; stopped the car as we were driving off and took my details to use me for a catwalk. From there, my first real shoot was with Alex Lee Johnson, who got me from my pictures on Facebook – I suppose it was all meant to be when he put me in a shopping trolley and started snapping away.

Q - What were your first impressions of the industry and how have they changed over the time you’ve been involved in it?

A - I love the industry, and I still do. I love all the colour and personality of the people you meet, the creativity and drive of those who love what to do – and the sheer madness of most of them! Taking on characters and dressing as everything from ethereal mermaids to warrior queens, as a job, is something that is so unique to this business. The clothes and exquisite fashion, make up trends and photography styles are all things that I can’t get enough of learning about – and get to first hand on every shoot I’m involved with. I would do it every day if I could.

Q - How much do you enjoy it?

A - I think my answer to the previous question gives this one away a bit haha! Thoroughly.

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Q - How much preparation do you do before a shoot?

A - It depends on the individuals I’m working with. More often than not, I’ve been the model, stylist, make-up artist and hair dresser – this takes a lot of preparation on the day and a lot of organising beforehand to make sure everyone is happy.

Q - How involved do you like to be in a shoot?

A - I tend to work from other people’s influences and ideas – I get all inspired and excited when a photographer comes to me with a rough idea and a mood board that we can work through together. I don’t mind if it’s all worked out before and my involvement comes on the day though; as something this is just how a brief works – but it’s a lot more fun to have a collaborative experience.

Q - Biggest challenges you’ve faced on a shoot?

A - I’ve been out in snow, wind and rain in next to nothing, been squished and squashed into clothes and shoes that are 3 sizes too small, had dead insects stuck to my face and shot in abandoned buildings marked unsafe for public entry. Most of that is all part of the job however – you just have to suck it up and deal with it to get the best shot possible! If I’ve ever felt unsafe, unhappy or unsure on a shoot I’ve spoken up or stopped however – which should always be the way to deal with situations you aren’t comfortable with.

Q - What have been your highlights?

A - Whenever there is free food. Literally. For real though I’ve had so many positive experiences in locations across the country that I don’t think I could pick one – but in saying that, modelling as a whole has helped me massively on a personal level. I used to suffer from fairly bad anxiety, and I’ve gotten over that with the help of a lot of lovely creatives over the past three years.

Q - And the downsides?

A - Downsides are long waits on set (bring a book and some snacks every time!), travelling hours on end, random cancellations that can cost you money and time, and TF shoots ending with no shots being acquired for some reason or another. Besides the last one – these are all minor and not really that bothersome on the whole.

Q - What advice would you give to someone who was following in your footsteps?

A - Go for it! Don’t be afraid to start – the only person that will hold you back is you. Contact that photographer whose work you’ve always loved, apply to that agency that you don’t think you’re good enough for, ask for portfolio building shoots and TF work – the worst someone can say is no. You’ll be surprised how many people are out there to help, and how many will give you a chance if you just ask.

With that being said – always do your research with these things; make sure you find positive, real reviews of photographers and agencies and ask questions that will satisfy whether you will be safe or not. Gut feeling is a legitimate excuse to refuse – exercise passion, determination and drive: but always do so with caution. This is only a small percentage of the industry, so never be put off by it; but recognise that you have to be sensible and smart when working off your own back/finding a good representative!

Q - What would your dream shoot involve?

A - A lot of cats! I would actually love to do a shoot with a big cat, however strange or surreal it would be – or even just loads of domestic ones in a chic crazy cat lady way. I also have always really wanted to do an underwater themed shoot (which is a bit more realistic) if anyone fancies it!

Q - Who or what inspires you?

A - Nature, art, film – magazines and other models. Anything beautiful or interested can be correlated into a photo through posing or emotion; which I try to show in the themed work I am involved with.

Q - Who are your unsung heroes?

A - Kari Roberts is my ultimate MUA. I’ve worked with her so many times and every look is always different, perfectly executed and right on brief. Not to mention she is absolutely mental and great fun to be around – I recommend her to any one that asks!

Q - What do you like to do in your free time?

A - As a student, I don’t really have free time haha. Reading, writing, film-watching (for research… I promise) – I review a lot and have my own blog that I’m currently working on also which I try and keep up to date when I can - Ash Vs Aesthetic

Q - What’s next for you; what are your plans for the future?

A - I’m going to Australia in the new year so that’s taking up all my planning and resources for the immediate future! I’ll be going on a university exchange so mostly will be working; but I’m hoping to travel around and get some amazing pictures of the country and its inhabitants. After that, my summer is free for bookings and my third year of university approaches… Wish me luck!

Good luck Ash, although I don't think you'll need it - thanks so much for being part of the interviews and for being the first to be featured!!