Emily Light is a refreshing, innovative and inspiring artist studying the art of photography at UCA. Vivifying the dreamland she creates in her mind, it is hard not to fall in love with her photographs. Emily repeatedly puts a meaning into contemporary art, marrying her pictures with revolutionised concepts of beauty and empowerment.
Lazy Summer by Emily Light
Why have you chosen photography? Was it something that was always apparent to you or is there a purpose to your career choice?
“I have always had a camera in my hand from when I was a little girl so it wasn’t abnormal, I just fell into it. My mum bought me a camera that could print photos so I started off taking a lot of pictures of my family. I didn’t put the creative side into it until I went into Sixth Form, but I’ve always tried to take photos on my phone and on the cameras I’ve had. It is kind of in my blood to take photos. At Sixth Form I studied Art, Photography, Performing Arts and Public Services. I tried to do business so I could have my own photography business but I hated it, so it ended up being all arts subjects. I now study at UCA.”
How has your journey with photography been? Have opportunities come naturally or have there been tribulations along the way?
"I am a big believer in manifestation and my aura is really powerful with that. When I believe something, or if I believe that something is going to happen, it happens for me.
At the beginning of 2019, I was like ‘I want my work published’ and then I came across a website that allows you to submit your work to magazines and I have been using that ever since. I told myself from the moment that I started doing fashion commercial photography that I wanted to be on the front cover of Vogue. When I got the Vogue Italia publication everyone told me I manifested it. I just believe that its already happening and then it just kind of happens."
Pink + White by Emily Light
"I do work really hard for it, I email a lot of people. It is rejection just waiting to happen, I have had to build myself up to be okay with being rejected. I put myself out there and then good things come back."
Do you always start your work with a final image in mind?
"Yes, absolutely. I hate going into a shoot with no idea what the outcome is going to be. I remember doing a hair project with this one girl, I didn’t know what I wanted the outcome to be and I was stressed! And yes I did get a couple of good photos that were nice but it if I had taken a little more time to focus on what I wanted then the photos would have slapped. The difference is so important to me."
How do you bring this about into existence? Especially working with models and subjects
"It is so important to connect with the models before the photo shoot. I always play music that they want to listen to before the shoot, I have a talk with them, I kind of empower them. The majority of my models are women. They have to be fully comfortable before the shoot happens. I never test my lighting until the models there, so I have all that time to make sure my model is fully confident. Its definitely all in the attitude. I have so many people that come away from the experience that are like ‘I feel amazing’. I have had people before book shoots with me just because they need a confidence boost which is such a compliment to me because I’m not here to just be a photographer I’m here to be more."
A lot of your work appears to focus heavily on women. Is this a conscious decision?
"Yes, although at the beginning it wasn’t. But now I specifically have a woman in mind every time I do a shoot, its just natural now to do everything about women. You can’t get better than feminine beauty. Even when I tried with my boyfriend it was still touching on femininity, not on masculinity. It was me trying to show that you can do feminine beauty with both men and women."
Beauty Within Her by Emily Light
Your work also has a nineties, ethereal, dreamy tinge to it. How do you find inspiration for this? Is it something you have envisaged yourself or do you take it from other places?
"Sometimes I will see a photo online and I will be like I want to do something like that; and I will try and find a way to do that style of maybe editing. But my images are never fully inspired by someone else. I used to dream about my photo shoots and then I would do them. I am a sucker for daydreaming, all day, all the time I am in my own head so maybe that is the inspiration."
Over It by Emily Light
I see that you have done some spoken word poetry. Is this something you can see marrying more intimately with your photography in the future?
"I have done a photography book before, with images alongside some of my spoken word in with text on the images. I made it look as if it were a film but I made it into a book which was really fun. It is quite separate at the moment but I am optimistic to combine them as it would be a good platform to do."
Do you think the response to your images is limited to the subjects or is it accessible to any observer?
"I think there are two separate things that come out of my images. The subject themselves needs to be in love with the photos. And because they are, the audience is. So I focus more on pleasing the subject and then the audience will love it anyway because the subject loves it."
What attracts you to working with a project?
"A lot of the time it is me submitting my work. But when I do have people reach out to me, I do the majority of the work that comes to me whether I like it or not. Just because of the industry we’re in, you can’t be fussy right now. I have done all different types of work: I have worked with jewellery companies and I have also been hired for a Levi’s campaign competition. I do it all but I’ve definitely been in situations where I have hated the project."
What are you currently working on? Have you got any upcoming projects?
I have my first solo exhibition September 4th – September 6th in Notting Hill. That had to be postponed because it was actually meant to be a couple of weeks ago. I’m also really just trying to finish my photography degree project so I’m going to do a couple more self-portraits. It was actually meant to be about loads of different women who had suffered from negative stigma from their natural hair. Whether it be colour, style, curly, straight, frizzy. But now I have to do it just about me because I cant finish the project until it is all over.
Soft Like Buttercup by Emily Light
Throughout your years of working with photography, what would you say is the most invaluable thing you have learnt?
If you put your mind to something you can honestly achieve any goal. Because I myself have achieved and pushed myself to do things and break guards down, just to get to a different place in my life. It is great to have big goals but it is also great to have mini goals in between that because before you know it you will get to the bigger goal whilst achieving things all the time.
Emily Light's Instagram and website display a wider range of her work
Written by Emily Quli