Robert Ascroft

reveals lustful secrets

Robert Ascroft is known for clean, stunning images – his photographs embody the perfection of color and shadow, complex placement of shapes, and masterful manipulation of light. His subjects vary, but his flexible, multi-thematic style remains classically exquisite. Ascroft captures the sultry, seductive and surprising shades of “Lust” for Spirit & Flesh.

Ascroft’s father worked at Kodak for thirty-five years, so an interest in photography came early in life: young Robert would shoot photos and make fliers or friends’ bands, processing his own film and using a photocopier to emulate the style of Clash posters. Later work as a designer saw him using hotographs compositionally and enabled him to communicate layout ideas with art directors.

Even on small, early shoots, Ascroft’s professional intensity would have been right at home on a cover assignment for Vogue. He believes he lands big-budget gigs through consistency and a self-taught discipline stemming from frugal beginnings. “I knew I had an eye,” he recalls, “and through trial and rror over the years I was able to understand lighting and technique. Of course, these were the days of film, when I could only afford to shoot a roll or two at a time and had to get the shot in a few frames. Being prepared helped keep the cost down.”

He invests time in research, first considering how he wants images to look, then scouring reference materials from films and magazines to art books and iterature (though, he warns, “there is a difference between ‘appropriation’ and ‘ripping off’). Occasionally before a session, he shoots body doubles to comp ideas.

Robert’s breakthrough project was shooting Charlize Theron for Vanity Fair during her Academy Award win for Best Actress for “Monster”. “It opened up another world,” he says. “Suddenly I was working with all the A-list stars.”

Robert’s experience creates a comfortable, relaxed working environment that allows him to defuse a variety of on-set issues, and his subjects appreciate the fact that he comes prepared. There is never a moment where someone questions what happens next, or where the celebrity is waiting for Robert to be ready for the next shot.

“I have it well mapped out,” he discloses. “And then, I leave room for the wonderful surprises that happen within that idea. Sometimes magic happens where you least expect it.”

“As a photographer, I balance art and commerce,” says Robert, who relished the visual options and unrestricted creative freedom afforded by creating an interpretation of “Lust” for Spirit & Flesh. “This project felt like Art.” “Lust” also presented the photographer/director with the long-awaited opportunity to shoot a short online video [], another testament to his expertise at creating a narrative without words.Whether a simple production or a huge elaborate set, Ascroft approaches each session on its own terms while adhering closely to his unique point of view; “Lust” was no exception. “Lust can be a sin,” he allows, “if it consumes you and becomes dangerous. We all have lust, but that doesn’t mean we are acting upon it or that it’s directed toward a stranger – you can lust after your partner of twenty years. What could be more wonderful than that?”

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