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Alexandra ArchibaldComment

Jessica Ashley Unknown is far from a purist with her film photography and that's what makes her work so perfect. Her film experiments make for the best psychedelic version of her world and it's the stuff dreams are made of.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography! 

My name is Jessica Bee and I use the pseudonym Jessica Ashley Unknown to represent my film photography artwork. I started shooting as a hobby in 2011/2012 when my friend Lil got a Diana and I saw what she could do with it. Eventually that turned into a blog and then a website and then an absolute passion of mine that I felt I needed to pursue on a bigger level, which is what I am doing now! I am an American living in Sydney, originally from the Boston-area. I have always been creative, even as a child, but when it came time to go to uni I decided not to study art but to go the business route instead. However, almost 10 years later, here I am returning to where I probably should have been all along, in the art world.

I love that you use film and put effort into making your images even more special. What do you like most about shooting film?

Thank you! I love everything about shooting film. I love the grain, I love having only a limited about of shots available and really having to trust your instincts and be patient for the shot, I love not being able to see my results instantly, but most of all of I love the element of uncertainty that comes with it – with the potential for light leaks and happy accidents. There is also so much room for experimentation; a lot of my work is with film soaks, so soaking my 35mm film in any number of substances prior to shooting it, for examples coffee, aftershave, or lemon juice. I love not knowing exactly how each frame might have been destroyed by the soak and taking the chance on what could potentially happen to the final image.

Who are some of your favorite photographers/artists? 

I have so many! But I am always really loving fellow film photographers Davis Ayer, Brigette Bloom and Edie Sundayand at the moment I am really in to the collage work of Meredith Earls and Ben Giles as well as the illustrations by Dani Green of Nineteenth Hole.

What do you have in store for the rest of the year? Any upcoming projects or collaborations?

Well, something I am really excited about is that I have been asked to be included in an exhibition in Washington D.C. later this year or early next year, which is focusing on photographers that shoot film and distort their images in an analogue way. So that should be amazing! I am also working on a collaboration with Dani Green (one of my favourite artists mentioned above – and I am so stoked about it!) which is still in its early stages but watch my space for more on that! There are also a few publications coming out later this year which will include some of my work, so I will be sharing that on my website, Instagram and Facebook as they come out :)


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