Ash Narod is a photographer focussing on connecting people with his camera
Particularly interested in the communities surrounding sport, Ash relishes photography as its allows him to discover new places and cultures.
- Ruby Boddington
- 14 October 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
For Mauritius-born and now London and Nuremberg-based photographer Ash Narod, photography opens up the world, allowing him to discover new places, experience different cultures and connect with people. “I remember as a kid, every time I heard an aeroplane go by I would run out to look for the plane and wonder where it was going,” he tells us. “Now I’m able to travel with my camera as a career and it is something I’m very grateful for, especially being from a place where a lot of people won’t ever get a chance to step on an aeroplane.”
Needless to say, then, this year has been a difficult one for the roaming creative, prompting a change in approach. It hasn’t stopped Ash, however, as instead he’s focussed his lens closer to home, documenting the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matters protests in London which “meant a lot” to him.
The former began during the lockdown and saw Ash taking the portraits of NHS staff, which he describes as a “special moment”. The photos included in this series are eerie yet touching, placing a spotlight on those at the forefront of fighting and containing the pandemic. The images retain a certain sense of grandeur too, thanks to their compositions, but also perhaps because they were shot using an analogue camera; a recent venture for Ash. Experimenting with film in this way has slowed his process down, he tells It’s Nice That: “I really think my shift towards analogue was important for me as it made me realise how hectic and fast-moving this world can be. Sometimes going back to the roots of a medium is a refreshing feeling, and that has helped me to grow visually.”
There’s also a depth of colour in the images, something which Ash describes as distinct to his portfolio, despite resisting any formal style across projects. “I don’t have a signature visual language or style yet, and I don’t think I would want to have one at the moment as I still like to experiment with photography,” he explains, “and that is something which still drives me to create.” The one thing which does remain constant, however, “is the way I use natural light and colours.”
What struck us about Ash’s portfolio was the way he adeptly switches between a slick commercial aesthetic and more raw, personal one. Perhaps the result of his use of both digital and analogue photography, it seems to be because of something deeper; his concepts. One minute he’s documenting the Hackney half marathon with the finesse of a court-side sports photographer, and the next he’s deep in a political movement, capturing the passion and emotions of those around him. And, somehow, he brings a bit of each of these sides to the other.
GalleryAsh Narod: distancing (Copyright © Ash Narod, 2020)
Ash came to photography unusually: through running. “While I was at college I was overweight and unhappy with myself, so I decided to start running and that’s when I got introduced to Run Dem Crew; a running crew in London mostly made up of people working in the creative industry,” he explains. While part of this community, he began to document his and others’ progress, sharing imagery on social media. “It wasn't long before my photographs started to get noticed and complimented, and one thing led to another,” he continues. This led him to work with brands like Nike and Adidas on small campaigns and his career has progressed since then over the past six years. As a result, projects which involve a community in some way are ones he still really enjoys, “especially in relation to athletes and sport.”
One such project saw him visiting Sierra Leone earlier this year to shoot a collaboration between Labrum and the Sports Association of Sierra Leone for the release of the country’s new Olympic kit, which we covered on the site. “I loved being in Sierra Leone, capturing all the unique locations and settings while including the local community. It was important to me that I bring the uniqueness of the location into my pictures,” he says.
Off the back of a challenging year, Ash is keen to invest more time in personal projects and has set himself the goal of holding his first photography exhibition next year. “I also want to inspire other young POC in the photography industry or those who want to pursue a career as a photographer/creative,” he adds. “The photography industry is currently a very middle class, male-dominated space and I really want to build a safe and supportive environment for people to excel. I think it’s very important that our creativity and uniqueness is celebrated regularly, not just as a trend or a moment.” Finally, he tells us, looking even further ahead, his portrait bucket list includes Michelle and Barack Obama, Sir David Attenborough and Lewis Hamilton. You heard it here first.
Ash Narod: Sierra Leone (Copyright © Ash Narod, 2020)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.