Mastering the art of multidisciplinary creativity: An interview with Lex Ash

Ngozi Enelamah


In our recent Limitless podcast, we spoke to Lex Ash, an exceptional photographer, NFT artist, musician, and creative director. We call him “Mr. Do-It-All”.

Who is Lex Ash?

Alexandre Chidiebere Ashimole is the full name. The Lex and Ash come from the first name Alexandre and Ash the surname Ashimole.

I’ve been creating as far back as I can remember. But I think much of my life has been me learning, discovering new things, and applying it to everything I do. So, if I were to describe myself, I’d be a lifelong learner.

How did photography start?

So, I started with graphic design, and in my first year of university, I picked up Photoshop —Photoshop Seven CS —for the first time. I spent a lot of time searching for random images on the internet to check their credibility. This was when I realized it was difficult to find pictures of black people; there wasn’t proper representation, which registered in my mind.

In my third year in university, I picked up photography, and a friend coincidentally bought a camera. So I would borrow it to play around, and then, towards my fifth year, people were open to me taking pictures of them.

That’s how I started photography; I won’t say that I always knew that I could do it, but I have always liked image creation. I’ve loved advertising; I’ve loved getting people to see things differently and using that to influence their decisions and thoughts about things.

What are the other things that you do?

Aside from photography, I do graphic design, brand building, and strategy. I’m also good at filmmaking and directing, and I apply that to everything I do because of my experience with photography and lighting.

I do music as well; music is kind of like one of my biggest projects right now, from production to singing. I have dabbled here and there with writing poetry, stories, and stuff like that.

How do you approach photography?

I have a background in graphic design, which involves layering different items to pass information. I use the same approach in my photography to create and tell stories in its rawest forms. Photography isn’t just about taking fine images but helping others relate to the image or portrait displayed.

Regarding photography, I put a lot of myself into my work. So, my process involves a lot of thinking that evolves around looking for the best ways to tell a story.

How do you balance storytelling, creativity, and business?

There’s a whole conversation around the business side of photography, and understanding this has helped build my brand into what it is now.

When it comes to the business side of photography, the first thing, as I said earlier, is being open to learning and building experience over time. There is a lot of struggle trying to balance the business and creative parts of photography, but what helps me create balance is respecting my work as a creator and understanding that what I create has value. And because of this value, people should pay for it. This helps me manage how much value I want to put on my work and how to interact with people.

But beyond this, there are times when you’d need to find someone who understands the business more than you do and let them handle negotiations for you. I had an agency that managed me for a while, and while it didn’t work out in the long run, I learned a lot about the business.

Now, I don’t overthink when it comes to negotiations; I’m very detailed with all my transactions, and I send an invoice with a breakdown of the work done and payment information. Sometimes, contracts are signed when necessary; I know now that these things are discussed from the onset, before a shoot.

However, when I create, I’m not thinking about finances or business; I focus only on what I’m trying to do and ensuring it happens.

How do you handle clients that have their specifications?

When it comes to handling clients, I realize that sometimes, they don’t see the full creative vision, and it’s your job to help them understand it. You have to create an atmosphere of trust, and I do this by having conversations with them ahead of the shoot so they know the kind of person I am, which helps them trust me enough to go with my creative direction.

Part of being a professional is understanding that clients will have specific needs. And it means meeting those needs, no matter how you feel about it.

Do your family members rate you?

That’s a good question. Going into photography was a struggle between me and my dad, especially as I wanted to leave my 9-5. He asked me to continue my office job for two more years, but thank God for rebellion. I’ve always been a bit rebellious, and eventually they understood.

When I visit home now, my dad asks to see my recent work and says, “My friend’s son’s getting married soon; you can shoot their wedding.”

Who are the most influential people in your life?

My parents. My dad was the one who taught me the importance of learning from everyone and everywhere, and he’s one of the most intelligent people I know. I also learned that integrity is super important no matter what I do or where I am.

My mum, on the other hand, is why I tried many things because I grew up seeing her do that. She is such a nice and caring person, both for her family and her friends, and you know, and all these kinds of things just kind of feel like they’ve influenced my life.

If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

I would like to be remembered for being the reason people feel better about themselves. So this goes beyond photography but instead based on their interactions with me. I want people to feel like their lives are better and different positively because they’ve met me.

What impactful lessons have you learned in photography, business, and all that?

  1. Consistency: The only way to get better at anything is by doing it consistently. And this also means trying to learn more about it daily. Sometimes, I go to exhibitions to see what other artists think and even watch YouTube videos on photography. Experiencing other people’s art helps you see how others think and imagine things.
  2. Be genuine: I don’t think about how other people are always doing things; I am about what speaks to me. How can I make this about what I feel?
  3. Treat people well: It sounds like a general life thing, but it’s important because how people experience you and feel when you leave resonates with them.

Wrapping Up:

If you’re just starting as a photographer, work with people on the same level as you are, work with models who are just beginning, and build with them. Over time, you get better, and then when you climb up, those models go with you, and you’ll also find people on that new level, and you will recreate with them. So, collaborate horizontally and build vertically.

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