I have been wanting to do an interview on Corey Tenold & Ash Walker for a long time. I had the opportunity of collaborating with them on shoots in the past and Corey was in my very first I AM MPLS! show years ago.
Flash forward to their insanely successful careers. Corey being one of the only photographers allowed backstage to shoot the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and a private dinner in the home of....Anna Wintour. Meanwhile Ash Walker has been in every major magazine and on every major runway. Sometimes I'm following them on social media and I'm like "HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING AND I CAN'T BELIEVE I KNOW YOU!"
You could probably call them a "power couple" but they are humble AF so they wouldn't like that label.
Us "Millennials" use the word "hustle" a lot. A lot. These two have evolved that sentiment in a way that seems a little more peaceful and unique. Do they work super hard and create beauty everywhere they go? Yeah. But they are very in tune with the idea that the future is unknown and have found a healthy and relatable balance to the noise of the creative industry.
My hope for this blog interview is to inspire you. To know that you can be a young kid from Tennessee working the third shift stock at Lowe's and some day be in the private home of THE NAME IN FASHION (Anna Wintour)
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Corey: I'm Corey. I do a lot of things. Most of my creative focus is in photography. So yeah, I'm a photographer.
[Photo of Ash taken by Corey for W Magazine]
Ash: I'm Ash. I'm an international model.
[Ash Walker on the cover of Harper's Bazaar Magazine]
2. Ash-How did your modeling career start?
Ash: I was into acting and modeling. I went with modeling at the time and went to my mother's agent (Vision Model Management MPLS) model search.
3. Corey-How did you first get interested in photography?
Corey: I'm not exactly sure. I do love the ability to freeze time though, and I can do this through photography. I live through memories.
[Photo of DVF and her models backstage taken by Corey Tenold]
4. Corey & Ash- What was the first job you ever had?
Corey: Third shift stock boy at Lowe's. It was one of the most fun jobs I've ever had, probably because we just messed around and there was literally zero stress. And I got to sleep all day and stay up all night. This was right out of high school.
[Photo by Corey Tenold at the Marc Jacobs show]
Ash: I think the first job I ever had was a hair spread for Maureen Anaulf for NAHA in MN. Maureen Anaulh was so talented and truly an amazing woman.
5. Corey & Ash-Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college? What did you study?
Corey: Born and raised in Tennessee. I went to Clemson University in South Carolina for like a year, and dropped out. I was undeclared but taking classes focused in engineering and computer science. I later continued studies in Computer Science in Minnesota. Photography wasn't anywhere in my curriculum.
Ash: I grew up in a small town south of Minneapolis. I didn't go to college after high school. When I was in high school I was out for modeling a lot. It was turning into a full-time job. So I decided to sign with an agency in New York.
6. What was the first moment in your career that gave you the feels as "yeah, this is what I want to do?"
Corey: I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up, but this is what I want to do right now. Some days I want to quite everything and move to the country and live on a farm. I think social media makes people think everyone else's lives are perfect and all figured out, when in reality everyone is struggling in some way. If there was a moment though, it would probably be when I realized that photography gave me the ability to capture beautiful moments that would live forever.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I loved that everyday I went to work, there was something different. I would watch Chanel and Dior shows and see these strong women walk so beautifully and these amazing sets and beautiful editorials and that's when I really wanted to start taking it seriously. When I walked for Chanel it was like a dream come true. And then Dior was icing on the cake.
[Ash Walker walking for Dior]
7. What has been the most challenging part of your career path?
Corey: A big challenge is the fact that I'm my own worst critic. I always find myself saying "you can do better." It's weird and it sucks. I'm always trying to look at my work and see it through someone else's eyes. This makes it hard to find closure in a project. I find myself finishing the project saying I could have done this or that better. Then there are the usual things: the stress, getting your foot in the door, etc.
Ash: The most challenging parts of my career were being gone from Corey/family/home for a long amount of time and having to maintain a size 00, which the industry expected up until now.
[Photo of Corey Tenold & Ash Walker] See, they do get to relax! :)
8. Where do you find inspiration?
Corey: I find a lot of inspiration through music. I grew up on hip-hop, and just keeping up with new artists and releases keeps me pumped up. I also believe that change sparks creativity. I moved around a lot as a kid. I went to like three different middle schools and three different high schools. I think changes in your life awaken sleeping neurons in your brain. So, I also find a lot of inspiration when I travel. Also, there's nothing more inspiring than seeing other people in your same career path doing cool shit.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I find inspiration from everything. Anything and everything.
9. What are your favorite clothing brands right now?
Corey: I'm kind of on this vintage kick at the moment. I'm really starting to realize how damaging fast fashion is and how many people it negatively effects. So I do a lot of shopping lately at vintage stores. I like vintage Levi's, vintage Champion, and vintage designer when I can find it. I also like to keep my eye on the streetwear scene. I'm currently into retro Jordan's and I love seeing what newer brands like AntiSocialSocialClub are doing.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I will always be a Dior fan. I'm a big believer in accessories being my statement pieces. Vintage is a big interest right now for me.
10. Style icon. (dead or alive)
Corey: This one is tough. I get inspiration from everywhere, so it's hard to pinpoint one person who I really look to as a style icon. I guess the first person that popped into my head was Pharrell. He always seems to be on the edge and does it with confidence. I think it also ties back to my hip-hop roots.
Ash: Hmmm, that's a hard one. I've really looked up to anyone for style. I've always just went with whatever I thought was cool from that seasons trends and past trends.
11. What has been your career highlight thus far?
Corey: Probably being the only photographer invited to an intimate dinner at Anna Wintour's house to take photos of guests, which included icons like DVF, Naomi Campbell, and Bruce Weber.
[Naomi Campbell photographed by Corey Tenold in Anna Wintour's home]
[Dinner setting photographed by Corey Tenold in Anna Wintour's home]
Ash: Well shooting for the September issue of Vogue was amazing. But also walking for Dior and Chanel were highlights.
12. Corey-you recently shot backstage for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Paris? How crazy was that?
Corey: Yes! It was very cool to have that opportunity. I was very excited to get that call, but also very nervous. Everything was like fashion week but on steroids. Security was beefed up and production was intense. It also felt cool being one of very few photographers allowed backstage. All in all, it was an amazing experience that I'm very grateful for.
Ash: I am so happy and proud of him!
[Photo of Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner backstage at the Victoria's Secret Fashion show taken by Corey Tenold]
[Photo of Kendall Jenner backstage at The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show taken by Corey Tenold]
13. What's next for you two?
Corey: Next for me is to keep growing. Keep learning. Keep traveling. But it's best when you don't know what's next. It keeps you on your toes with your mind open.
[Photo of Corey Tenold]
Ash: I have decided to be more body positive with modeling and I'm very excited about it! Being the real me feels great and refreshing. Excited to see where it takes me.
[Photo of Ash Walker]