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Art & Life with Scott DuVall and Ryan Ashton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Scott DuVall and Ryan Ashton.

We met at the UNCSA School of Filmmaking in North Carolina; Ryan majoring in directing and Scott in cinematography. One benefit of the program there is that you get constant hands-on experience with very little at stake. You are young and new to the craft and you can invent, play, and screw up with little consequence. It was a big part of our artistic upbringing.

After moving to Los Angeles and working for years in the industry, Ryan as an actor and Scott as a projectionist and cinematographer, film making became as much a part of our identities as our livelihood. Turning your passion into your livelihood can blur some lines in a tricky way and we were craving a creative endeavor where we could find our play again. To turn off all the noise and just enjoy the process. Since there were no expectations on us as photographers- we hadn’t built our careers or identities on it, we never claimed to be much good at it- it was perfect. It was cheap (as a cinematographer, you tend to already have cameras lying around) and it didn’t require other people. We could, and did, start immediately.

Then, in coming up with our name it just felt right to be straight up and forward-facing with it. What do we do? We drink wine. And then we walk idly. And then we shoot photographs. Plain and simple. And that felt right.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Our work is street photography; primarily suburban landscapes and always at night. That said, we’ve never put much effort into categorizing it. As soon as the next new setting appeals to us, the look will surely evolve because it’s more about what the shoot itself does for us than the finished product.

Very little goes into our prep or location scouting. Usually, we just pick an interesting neighborhood one of us drove through recently, and get dropped there around midnight and start improvising. On a typical night, we’ll meet at one of our houses in the early evening and chat over some wine about what inspirations we have at the moment, maybe pick a prop to work with. We’ll do an equipment check and then call our Uber. And then it’s just us and the camera as we start our slow ramble. The process of simply walking slow, absorbing the details of your surroundings, and running ideas through your head is very meditative. Sometimes we’re out all night and we’ve walked one block. And there are no wrong ideas. We do a lot of “how about this” and “what’s this do for you?” as we go. If one person isn’t seeing it, the other person takes the lead and tries it out. And we just play. We stand in for each other, go for some weird poses, just experiment.

So, hopefully that playfulness comes through in our photographs. We’re really not trying to convey any big message. If anything, we hope that we can inspire other people to be less precious about art and the creative process. Remember to have fun with it. And honestly, this experiment and its philosophy have spilled over into our daily lives and reintroduced some wonder into our film work and the way we see things. And we could all use a little more wonder as we go through our lives.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
We don’t know if we could really speak to the current conditions for most artists, because the conditions in our little bubble are pretty sweet. We walk around alone at night when everyone else is asleep and then we go home and edit by our lonesome and then share to Instagram. And again, it is important for us to keep this project playful and loose. It is not our goal to make it our livelihood and that is a luxury that many other photographers and artists can’t afford. So, we are lucky in that regard.

It does seem like certain things have gotten easier while others have become more difficult. Technology has helped with both of those things; access to the tools and to an audience has never been higher, yet the increase in content has created a lot of noise that can be tough to penetrate or find your voice in.

Los Angeles likewise has pros and cons. The community of artists and creatives is robust and constantly active, which is inspiring. It’s also so large it can be intimidating. It takes dedication to not be provincial and actually go to all the different parts of town that offer unique galleries, exhibitions, showcases and pop-ups. Places for artists to learn about and experience one another. But as long as a city has these things to offer it’s doing its part; the rest is on us.

In a larger cultural sense, we’ve been disappointed to see the continued lack of funding and emphasis on the arts recently. But to quote Dr. Ian Malcolm, “life, uh, finds a way”, and our project is just one example of art finding its own way. So, it’s heartening to see people innovating in the face of these restrictions and setbacks.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
For now, we primarily rely on our Instagram page, @DrinkWalkShoot, to share and connect with the community. We love meeting fellow photographers, comparing notes, and supporting their work as well. So, follow us there and say hello while you’re at it.

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            Image Credit:
Scott DuVall & Ryan Ashton

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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