i. I work as an Architectural Photographer
ii. I do this creative work because:
I fell in love with photography the first time I held a camera at 6 years old. I grew up traveling with my dad who was a film camera man; sleeping in equipment vans and sitting next to him in the evenings when he was printing photos in the dark room. My first reaction when I would see the print coming to life from the white sheet of paper was always “this is magical.” I feel like this every day. Photography is my freedom.
iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
My biggest competitor is actually myself. I am challenging myself every day with my idea of a perfect image and with the chase to achieve that one amazing shot; to capture the perfect moment. I love strategy and have always thought if I am not a photographer I would have been a strategist. My favourite publication to read is actually Harvard Business Review and my book that never leaves my bed side is Art of War. To be able to get to the top you need to have endless energy, crazy passion and a lot of understanding of business.
iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
I feel I am on an endless adventure so not much, to be honest, is challenging when you enjoy what you do. The only time we have issues is when the architects put us in unfinished buildings with construction outside and expect masterpieces. Recently we arrived in a building that was unfinished, there was a flood in the middle of the shoot because of a burst pipe, the windows were covered in dust and the architect who was not on site with us did not like that we could not see the view.
v. Creative childhood hobbies:
I used to build Russian lego (yes, this is the communist version of your lego which is much bulkier and more difficult to work with) and thought I would be an architect one day. I could spent endless hours doing this and create the most incredible buildings.
vi. Other creators who inspire you:
Henri Cartier- Bresson, Fernando Guerra, Oscar Wilde. I feel I always somehow go to their work for inspiration. Bresson and his decisive moment changed the way I see everything. Life is created of moments but the moment the eye, the lens, the light, the vision align, this is the moment magic happens.
vii. Training that has helped me in this career:
I did a lot of degrees, but the training that changed my life really was being in Magnum photo agency as an intern for 6 months in Paris. There were, at that point, 6 people accepted every 6 months from different countries so we did a lot of work in the beginning in the archives and looking through the contact sheets and photos of the biggest photojournalists in the world. We went through 1000 files a day, holding them in our hands and then we would go out in Paris photographing when our minds and eyes were filled with the incredible compositions that we had seen. It changed the way I see the world; I started seeing life in frames.
viii. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Not seeing the bigger picture. We always focus on ourselves and what we need to do and only look at the local competition. You need to begin with looking where you can end up, see what the big international photographers do and this will allow you to open your eyes to all of the possibilities. Also be humble. People come out of school and say, “ok I have made it.” I studied for 8 years in University, interned after, then did 12 years of work with hospitality working 20 hour days and then contacted my first interior design firm and even then I thought, “am I good enough?”
ix. Some proud career moments:
Receiving almost every day messages from people who say they are inspired by how hard I work or how passionate I am. If you can impact the life of even one person in a positive way, you have absolutely achieved something. Honestly those messages stay in my head much more than any award I have won or recognition I have received.
x. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
STRATEGIZE. You need to be very talented, but also you need to understand business, strategy and positioning, and be able to create your own image and identity. If you do not possess the business skills to do this, you need to hire someone to do it. Also care about your clients; put them first always.
xi. A professional goal I have for the future:
I want to be the first female who is a recognizable architectural photography name. You have Iwan Baan, Fernando Guerra and many more who are well known to the world of architecture worldwide. I want to make sure that there is one female that is that name and hopefully more women will follow. It is time for a change; we are as strong, and passionate.
xii. If you want to see my work, go to:
My Instagram is my running gallery. My tag is @emaphotographi