“I hear a lot of photographers talking about photography as a job, or a career, but to me it’s really more of a way of life”
Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your educational background? What are your general professional and non-professional interests? What is the name of your company?
-I was born in Marietta, Georgia and grew up in various small towns around metro Atlanta. I feel the most belonging, I believe is very important to belong somewhere, in a small town called Porterdale. I started my undergraduate degree at Middle Georgia College then transferred to the University of West Georgia. I graduated in 2009 and dove whole-heartedly into my wedding photography business. By 2012 I was ready for school again and started my MFA in photography at Savannah College of Art and Design. My company is Emma Elaine Photography. Professionally I just love being in the wedding photography business, and non-professionally, I tend to steer more toward personal expression and alternative and historic photographic processes.
What does photography mean to you?
-I hear a lot of photographers talking about photography as a job, or a career, but to me it’s really more of a way of life. It’s what I think about, what I do, what I research into, my enjoyment, my career, my voice… It really just is the way I live my life.
When did you realize you wanted to become a photographer?
-I’m not sure if I have a specific moment when I knew, actually. However, not too long ago I did find an essay I wrote a long time ago about what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’. It was written about my interest in being a professional photographer. It was really a proud moment; I had become what I wanted to be as a child.
What was the very first thing you captured through your lens?
-It’s hard to say the very first thing, I remember going on vacation to the north Georgia mountains when I was in middle school and really getting into capturing the nature I found all around me. I guess that is what I gravitated toward at that time, and still do to some extent.
What was your very first camera?
-These questions are really hard for me to answer. Photography has always been such a natural medium for me; I really cannot pinpoint an exact first camera, as my family always had a few around. I remember the first camera I got once I decided to become a photographer. It was a brand new Nikon D200, and I certainly thought I was something else walking around with that thing! I actually still have it; it lives in my collection of cameras.
Out of all of your work, which is your favorite so far?
-I am actually really enjoying my current work. I am working on two different film series. Film is something I feel so connected with. In short, one series is of self-portraits intertwining myself with the natural world through double exposures. The other series is composed of long and double exposures of the carnival at night. This series is printed in cyanotype.
Whose work has influenced you the most?
-John Dugdale, Sally Mann, Keith Cater, Dan Estabrook, and Francesca Woodman to name a few.
How old are you? Are you currently studying at a University? What has that experience been like?
-I am currently 26 years old and working on my Master of Fine Arts at the Atlanta campus of Savannah College of Art and Design. I am actually about halfway done with my degree and can honestly say I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far. It has been really hectic and frustrating at times, but I have learned so much in my short time there that I can’t deny the importance of it. Not only about photography or being an artist, but I’ve also learned a great deal about myself and what is important to me. I’ve also met a number of incredible people who inspire me and motivate me.
What has been one of the most significant things in your growth as an artist?
-I would honestly say graduate school at SCAD Atlanta. It has been an amazing experience with knowledgeable professors invested in their students. I have learned a lot about photography and really have found my voice and aesthetic on a different level.
Do you have any big goals and dreams as a creative photographer? Where would you like to be and what would you like to do with your creative life?
-Of course! As with most professional photographers and artists, I want to be as successful as I can. I play the gallery and museum structure game to be shown at the top.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
-I would say I have gained most of my inspiration from my peers.
Can you describe your creative process from conception, to creation, to perfection/editing?
-I really don’t have once certain way to work. When inspiration hits me through life experience or through another project, I just let myself be taken by it. If I find myself lacking inspiration, I just go out and shoot whatever it is I see. Usually I do this with film or some other type of alternative process because the hands on and involved nature of that medium really gets into my soul.
Can you give some advice to all the young artists in our society who look up to you?
-Just keep going! Honestly, I see too many young artists or photographers getting discouraged by a few rejections. I also see young artists quit because of lack of inspiration. You just can’t let that happen. Every artists gets rejected, not everyone is going to appreciate your work… SO WHAT! In order to get inspiration, just get out and create. I find that to be the best way to move on from a series, the best way to find inspiration, and more importantly, the best way to find you.
Would you describe your personal style as a photographer?
-I would say this is a very difficult question to answer because I am always doing two things at once. I have my wedding photography and my Fine Art photography. They are completely different worlds, and to me they live as separate entities inside my own creative process. I would describe my personal wedding photographic style as soft, romantic, and journalistic. Really a story about two people in love. My Fine Art work is really more of an introspective glance at the world. I tend to be pulled toward film and other alternative processes and find real solace in the meticulous process and hands on technical nature of film.
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
-If you go to my website, http://www.emmaelainephotography.com, you can get to all my fine art work as well as my wedding photography and blogs.
Do you have a favorite quote? Tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
-“Photography is such a loving language that at the end of the day, the images are always there.” A quote Keith Carter said in his film from The Photographer’s Series. I love this quote because it really brings the idea home about photography being a language and way of communication. The images are always there to tell the story.
Describe your ideal vision in five years?
-Ideally, I will still be excelling in the wedding photography business. I would like to start hiring other photographers under my company name for the lower end wedding while I continue doing higher end weddings myself. It would be nice to have an editor as well. That way I could appeal to every wedding budget, could build my enterprise and name in the industry, and have time for life outside that as well. In addition to the weddings, I would love to be continuing my Fine Art portfolio and exhibiting when possible.
What has been the secret to your success so far?
-Dedication, honestly. I feel the only thing that sets me apart from any other artist or photographer is my drive to succeed. I want it, I go after it, and I don’t stop until I get to where I want to be.
Emma I just want to thank you so much for spending time with Voncel’s Reflection and showing readers your extraordinary talent!
You Are Amazing!! Keep up the great work