Ashanti Looking Like An Angel On A Stairway to Heaven London (2003)


When I photographed Ashanti for the Next Big Thing for The Sunday Times in 2003 I was trying to create a scene that fitted her personality. I knew she would be wearing the above incredible angelic outfit.  I acquired a back drop that looked like a Hollywood version of heaven (a bit kitsch I know but one has to have fun). I hoped she would like it and get into the angelic concept and she did not disappoint.


She arrived in a whirlwind with her entourage, led by her mother, her stylist and a family friend I believe. I really wanted to capture the glamour of young black America which she embodied in her music and personal style. As soon as she stood in front of the back drop with her latest album playing in the studio, she had a natural, funky-sweet elegance and made beautiful hand gestures, which actually really added to the charm of the image, specifically the one where she is looking over her shoulder.

I didn’t have long in the studio with her before she was whisked away in an awaiting limousine by her managers. She came across as a very sweet natured, her mother was also delighted with the polaroids and called them ‘ fabulous’ and was encouraging Ashanti all the time I was shooting by shouting ‘You look great girl” which was really sweet.

I know there has been some controversy lately surrounding various events which I am not about to comment on because I know nothing about them.  All I know is that she was a very sweet and unpretentious young woman. Delighted to read that she has had so much success in her career since these photos were taken and right now she has a new single out. I’ve added the link below, the new track #sayless is about the media attacking people and making controversy for the sake of it. As a Buddhist I have to support the sentiment.  I am always going to back a quieter approach to things, which for those of you who know me is probably quite ironic. It takes only a moment to be kind but a long time to be cruel. Over to you Ashanti!

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  • Clive Arrowsmith is shooting stunning images, staging exhibitions and is as passionate about photography as he was when he first pressed the shutter at The Paris Collections. He is available for global media opportunities related to his work and photography generally. Bespoke prints from Clive’s archive are also available by special request, for any enquiries  (email Eugenie here). Clive’s book Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits is available here and Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 is available here


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