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for photographer ashley armitage, long-distance love fuels her autonomy


Photographer Ashley Armitage, 24, lives in Seattle with painter Derek Erdman, 44, her partner of four years. Ashley’s dreamy, evocative photographs of young women are in high demand, so she often travels for work; she spends about four months of the year away from home. We talked to Ashley about how she navigates her days when she can’t physically be with the most important person in her life.

Gucci Guilty is examining modern love. In this visually curated series by Sarah Bahbah we interview people who define their own love connections and are liberated from the status quo. This emancipation has a universal glow, from which these lovers say #guiltynotguilty.

How often are you able to be together in the same physical spaces?

We've lived together for the last three years, but I travel usually four or five times a month. We're probably together for two-thirds of the time, and I'm traveling for photo jobs the other third of the time. When we aren't physically together we make sure to maintain relationship routines. We need scheduled things to look forward to, like good-morning and good-night Facetime sessions.

Can you describe what it’s like, physically, to miss Derek?

When I'm away from him, I feel disconnected from the most important thing in my life. It's a cliché, but I feel like a piece of me is missing. Even though we're able to update each other on our days through Facetime, we're missing that physical touch. I just want to nuzzle into his neck, and that's not possible digitally.

What is the first thing that drew you to Derek?

For me, smell is everything. Derek's smell is one of the first things that drew me to him when we met. Sometimes I feel the need to nuzzle into his ear and neck, and just breathe in. It's so primal and physical. When I'm traveling, I either bring his deodorant or one of his T-shirts with me to feel connected.

Would you prefer that you two were able to have more physical proximity? Or does the distance yield some benefits that suit your life now beyond the logistical considerations?

I actually think we're in a really healthy place when it comes to time apart. We're both totally different when it comes to being distanced from each other. I'm more of a dependent, needy type in a relationship, and Derek is more of an independent, needs-his-space type; for him to really get into a creative zone, he needs to be alone. The distance gives him his space, and it makes me grow into a more self-sustaining, autonomous person.

Directed and Photographed by Sarah Bahbah

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