Emma Evelyn Speight is a Brighton based analogue photographer who’s work is a true dedication to the perseverance of analogue VS digital. My last post explored the wonderful world of analogue recording, a saved appreciation that the boys of Outside the Box Production and JOUIS combined to create Beetroot Studios. This week I wanted to expand, and give an impression of what analogue photography can produce that falls short in digital photography. Emma Evelyn Speight is the perfect photographer to place on this platform. Mainly orientating her images around portraits and documentation, the intimate depictions of Emma’s work goes hand-in-hand perfectly with what I deem as the now modern concept for analogue shooting.
Since finishing university in 2012, Emma has embarked on a few personal projects to explore and define the tone of her art. Her project ‘Threes A Crowd’ is a beautiful and intimate look at relationships between couples and friends. Emma has very successfully captured moments on film that may only occur in a fraction of a second; the tenderness and charming nature of what each couple shares is stunningly occupied, and encapsulates the affection of that very moment. In 2013, Emma began a 10 month long project to photograph (almost) every person she had come across and shared time with throughout her life in Brighton. The end result was superb – after capturing 53 images, all were printed into a zeen, which were then made available to everyone involved in the project as well as the public. The zeen, entitled ‘Coming Down From Cloud 9″. included incredibly individualised and detailed portraits. Each image was well thought through- the scenery, the positioning, the colours as well as various other components were orchestrated in a way that complemented the personality of the individual, perfectly fitting the thematic process throughout the project of capturing in a single shot the characteristics of her friends. However, the nature of analogue shooting, which completely challenges digital, is that you can’t know for certain the final product until it’s processed. This means Emma has learnt to trust her intuitive sense for what produces an eye-catching image; in my opinion, the strongest elements in her work seems to be colour.
Which camera is your preferred camera, and why?
My Mamiya 7, which is a medium format range finder. Its not necessarily the camera I always feel most comfortable shooting on but maybe thats part of its charm. One of the things I enjoy most about shooting film is the unexpected results, and happy accidents that are out of your control. I’ve learnt so much from those mistakes and over time have come to understand better how to control them and produce the results that I am after. Different cameras produce different types of imagery, its circumstantial on my mood but overall im happiest with the negatives I get back from my Mamiya.
Is there a particular artist or photographer who has resonated with you and your work?
Thats a tricky one, and I am going to have to say probably not. Of course there are photographers that I have found inspiring and I am sure have influence my work over time. I remember seeing a Steve McCurry portrait at the age of 10 and being truly jolted by its impact, and I think that was where my engagement with photography began. I am a huge fan of contemporary photographers such Mike Brodie, Alec Soth and Bryan Schutmaat but to be honest I find most inspiration and motivation from seeing my peers and photographers or artists of my age and generation doing well and succeeding.
Your work suggests that you lean a lot more towards photographing people rather than scenery. Is there a reason for this?
To be blunt probably just the fact that I find people more interesting. What I love about photography is the way that it enables you to engage with the world around you, and at this point in my life I find people and their stories much more engaging than landscapes or scenery. Taking someone’s portrait is a collaboration between the photographer and the sitter, and every sitter is different. I shoot my friends rather than models and as a result sometimes I find a shoot will be a power struggle between the way I want to portray someone and the way that they want to be portrayed. I enjoy that. Its challenging, interesting and allows for much more freedom and spontaneity.
Emma is constantly taking images and updating her website, making her work a steadily evolving and stimulating thing to watch. This year, Emma ventured to Iceland for a self-funded photography expedition. At the moment, these images are being adjusted and tweaked with the aid of her negative scanner, and will be ready to see in the coming months.
Katie at Brighton Creatives