University: Nottingham Trent University
Artist Statement: Loss is unfortunately a fundamental part of life. In twenty twelve a big change happened for Emma when she experienced the unexpected loss of someone really close to her prematurely. Emma uses her photography for this body of work to encapsulate and convey memory and emotional attachment to people, places and objects that surround such an emotional time of her life.
Through her loss Emma has documented places where change has occurred the most for her, whether it is the physical place that has altered or her emotions towards the space. She also photographed items that belonged to the person that she lost. Not only will Emma be focusing on landscapes but the people in her life who were there to help her deal with the adjustments. These portraits are of people who she grew up with and knew about the relationship between herself and the person that she lost.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? I think one of my biggest highlights was having our final year degree exhibition. It was amazing to have my own space to display my photography work. For everyone to see and comment on. I felt like people could appreciate the love that I had for my work and be emerged in my work. One other stand out moment at university was being introduced to a medium format film. I have never turned back from using it now when it was suggested two years ago. I was nervous at first to use and not get any pictures as I hadn't used film in a long time. I asked so many tutors for help constantly. But after a while I got use to it and fell in love with a Mamiya RZ67. You can never beat film!
Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? I think my work is predominantly landscape. I like exploring spaces that mean something to me or someone else. I try to explore the emotions of landscape by documenting with my photography.
What themes do you find yourself exploring? Recently I have been exploring the space between industrial and natural. I find it interesting how many industrial estates are taking over and we are having less space to enjoy nature and the natural environment rather than a man made one.
What initially encouraged you to make work around your loss in 2012? I think I chose photography to help over some emotions that I was struggling with a lot through university and I found it very therapeutic. It allowed me to overcome some strong emotions and help further deal with the situation. It made me remember many memorable times together, instead of looking at it miserably, it brought a happiness to me which surprised me.
Is this work finished? I think I could still do a lot more and create an even bigger body of work. I want to take some photographs abroad and more of spaces within Northampton where we grew up as children.
Did you have any theoretical influences when making this series? I think a big influence has been Stephen Bull as he covers many areas and makes me think about the way I make my work. Also Rebecca Solnit is amazing talking about landscapes and walking. I have been so emerged in her reading.
Have you got any tips for graduates or students making work of a similar style? Don't give up. There were times when I wasn't getting the images I wanted and I knew I had to do this project justice. I kept powering through and finally made photographs I was happy with. Also, don't worry about other peoples negative comments; it's your personal project. it's your work and you know the right thing. However, do listen to feedback, it will be helpful.
What do you enjoy most about the process of using film? Are these images hand printed by yourself? I love using film because it slows the process down and makes me appreciate it more. Rather than snapping away taking loads of images on a digital camera, by using film it makes me work harder on one image and creates a love for the photograph. Unfortunately, these images aren't printed by myself as I had constraints. I do regret not printing them myself as I think by hand making them they become more personal.
How have others who were also affected by your loss reacted to your work? They were all overcome with emotions about the raw topic, it brought back feelings that I thought were gone personally for me and my family. They were all proud that I did justice and how personal it is. That there wasn't an easy way of going about it to exhibit it, fortunately it worked out. I think with the size of images, it allowed people to step into my private world and view it. To take a piece of memory of my brother or learn more about him if people didn't know him before.
Does this series have a title? If so, can you explain it? The title for the series was Change. I used this word as it summed up many different meanings of the work to me. One being the change in my family tree, that I had now become an only child. But the biggest sense of change was going back to places we went as children and identifying them as bad places. That they weren't happy for me anymore because I the person who I made these special moments with wasn't there to reminisce or make even more memories.
What are your future creative plans? For the future I hope to still work as a photographer in a big company, specialising in archival and museum photography. I have been recently getting some experience in this sector and it's fascinating to see all the objects and history behind them.