Interview: Emily Parker
Emily Parker is a photographer with a love for creativity and fashion. I was lucky enough to interview Emily about her recent project and career plans.
Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?
I’m great thank you!
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I live in Bristol and I have done all my life. I'm 17 years old so I still live with my family at home. I grew up with my sister and two brothers so there was never a dull moment!
Describe your style in three words.
Gosh, I like my style to be individual, free and personal.
I adore your work. What inspired you to start taking photographs?
I got into photography accidently. It started when I was doing my GCSE’s and I was meant to do engineering, but one thing led to another and I ended up being put down for photography! Once I started learning about cameras and the history of photography and beginning to take photography seriously I was hooked straight away. Within weeks of being on the course I was carrying my camera absolutely everywhere with me much to my family's dismay! I've always been into photography in a sense - capturing the moment to remember it. Especially in the last 4 years.
During my time of learning photography, I developed quite a few mental health illnesses and was admitted to hospital a few times because of it. Because of this, my memory gradually began to disappear and photography was a way for me to capture a moment, a feeling or a thought and to remember it perfectly. To capture what I didn't want to loose.
How has your creative process changed since the start?
At the beginning I didn't have a particular style, I was learning and playing around and experimenting with techniques and learning about my camera and it different settings. Now I feel I am growing to understand my style. I still wouldn't know how to describe this style to anyone - but I am learning what my style is and it can be an acquired taste at times. I also plan my shoots much more intricately now.
When I started, I would just wonder around and see what I found, now I actively look online for locations and plan ahead. Make checklists of particular shots and poses I want, writing about what my model looks like and what will suit them. I also have a lot more confidence in being able to tell my models what to do. To go up and physically move them at times to get the perfect shot and to work with them and what works with their own bodies.
What equipment do you use for your work?
At the moment I use a canon 1100D so not a particularly expensive kit - soon I'm going to be getting a canon 750D which is a step up from what I have now. Although it isn't a super amazing camera in the grand scheme of things - it does what I need it to do and still helps me to create the image I want. I tend to use a 50mm lens with this because it goes down to f/1.4 and I love to work with a low f-stop so that the backgrounds of my images are as blurred as they can be to focus directly on the subject. I also adore working with soft boxes so I am hopefully getting a portable one for myself really soon.
What equipment would you recommend for someone who wants to get into photography?
Personally I would recommend a decent DSLR camera which has an average 18-55 lens. I would also recommend getting a tripod for stability and for any images using a shutter speed longer than 1/60. Another piece I find very useful is a white balance card. They aren't as popular these days and can be hard to find in shops but they really make a difference to the images and are easy enough to find online. They will adjust the white balance for your location and lighting - I know that on modern cameras there is an auto white balance option but it is always much more effective to use the card over the auto settings.
Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?
Social media has been very useful in discovering people to work with - as I mainly work with people and am working towards a fashion photography career. It gives me a space to advertise my work/projects and gather an interest as well as find people who are willing to be involved.
Who inspires your work?
There are so many inspiring photographers that inspire my work - Annie Leibovitz, Corrine day and Mario Testino. But on a personal level - my grandfather has been my main inspiration in my work. He was a photographer himself and after he passed away I never got the opportunity to explore photography with him. But he was always a perfectionist in his images and would create amazing images with beautiful colours and focuses.
Why is photography important to you?
Photography is very important to me because it really suits me mentally. It gives me a confidence that I don't usually have. When I'm taking photos I'm not afraid to talk to people and to be a tad bossy. It has helped me to cope with some pretty stressful situations, as well as provide me a way of remembering the beautiful moments in life. I also find it a way for me to express myself and my passions which I am not confident in doing so through words. To present an image that breaks the barriers of stereotypes or challenges the social media's view.
What makes a good photograph?
Personally a good photograph for me would be one with meaning or a story or an atmosphere. Something that makes you think wow of feel strongly towards. Aesthetically I love unique and original images, perhaps with an odd angle, lighting or pose. An image that has a particular style to it that as soon as you see it, you know who it's by.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I am working on a body positivity project for my A Level Photography final piece and an exhibition to showcase this work. I decided to work on this project because of my personal journey of learning to love my body and feeling comfortable in my own skin. As someone who has been to hospital for an eating disorder - I have not only experienced what it's like to not feel comfortable in my body but also learn about other people's struggles and perspectives on the matter.
I am hoping to break the barriers of "the perfect body" and to show that every single body is absolutely gorgeous, perfectly imperfect. To help not only my models but the people looking at the images to accept their own beautiful bodies and feel confident in themselves. I am also hoping to show the reality of it all - that the project is not an easy one - that being positive about your own body isn't always easy and it takes a journey but it is always worth it.
What's your typical working day?
My typical working day is very busy! On a shoot day I will have a mad flash of shoots with different people, running around to different places. A single shoot usually takes about I -2 hours. I try to fit in at least 3 shoot in a day so I can get them all done. Then I'll have planning which can take a few days - especially if I have a lot of people to fit in and plan for because I plan for each model individually depending on their personality and styles. I also review each of my shoots so that usually takes about an hour to write improvements. Editing takes about a day, maybe two. To create some abstract images, crop, select my final images and work on Photoshop.
What are your career plans?
My career plans at the moment are to go to university in London and focus on fashion photography. My photography bucket list is to work for a fashion magazine, do a shoot with the Royal Ballet, work with a popular brand such as Dior, Elle, Channel and to have a professional collaborate with a brand that I adore like Lush or We Are Hairy People.
What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
The best piece of advice I ever got from someone was to not be afraid to direct. Say what you want, it isn't an issue and it will create the best photo you can. Also to do your research before hand. Find images that inspire you, make a checklist of images you want, organise a location, etc. If you do that you will feel prepared and you won't forget an image that you wanted to work towards.
You can follow this lovely lady on her Instagram ‘dr.fter’. She is always posting wonderful photography and inspiration.