What is your professional/training background?
After completing study in photography at RMIT at the end of 2004 (following a terrible attempt at an Arts degree and then two years making vaccines – yep), I worked extensively as a freelance assistant and was then fortunate enough to secure a role as a the sole producer to one of Melbourne’s top photographers. This presented a wonderful opportunity to absorb the inner workings of the industry and to appreciate photography as a business as well as a means of expression. During this time, I was a permanent member of a vibrant studio and balanced producing with refining my own craft in a mentor-driven environment. Further to this, while alongside some of the best, I finely tuned my post-production skills and enjoy shaping my images here, as well as ‘through the lens’.
I also worked at a newspaper throughout 2006 while I did my photographic assistants’ ‘apprenticeship’. I then spent the majority of 2007 working almost obsessively on building folio, both through ‘self-assignment’ and a scant handful of commissioned work. The beginning of 2008 marks the time I actually ‘flew the nest’ – I set up my own business, got a proper logo, built a website, tucked my folio under my arm and started hitting up those I wanted to work with. It’s worked reasonably well thus far. :)
What do you make/create or do?
I photograph people – of all kinds – for magazines, advertising, musical types and for hanging on gallery walls occasionally. Some of my clients include Marie Claire, Rolling Stone and Good Weekend. I also do the occasional wedding, if asked nicely :)
What other creative areas would you like to explore as a side-project to your current work, or move into full-time?
More fine artwork would be fantastic. This would still be of a photographic nature, but exploring some personal and political themes that have long spent time in my head! I have just embarked on a 12-month project shooting women in the music industry in Australia – a series with a twist, more to come!
What skills do you have that help you run your business, or what skills would you like to develop?
I guess I have pretty healthy people and relationship-building skills. I’m also pretty attuned to creating the right working environment for me and to being in a space with inspiring people. I would most certainly like to develop my accounting/bookkeeping skills, that’s for sure! If I’m to continue shooting what I love, then I need to ensure my business is sustainable, but I often fall into the trap of placing this at the bottom of the priority list…
List five people, businesses or websites/blogs that keep you motivated and inspired, and why?
1. Communication Arts publication/commarts.com – a wonderful resource out of the US for some of the best current photography in the world. They also showcase the best illustrators, designers and similar practitioners which refreshes me and reminds me to look at non-photographic creative output. I find every issue a joy and an inspiration.
2. MONA in Hobart – it blew my mind. Contemporary, challenging art in a cutting-edge space designed to genuinely include the viewer, not make them feel as though the art were above them. World class.
3. GUP (Guide to Unique Photography) Magazine – cutting edge photography magazine/blog from the Netherlands
4. People. At the risk of sounding a little wanky, people in general keep me highly motivated. When I sat for two hours at a commissioned shoot with a 33yo woman who’d had extensive surgery because of breast cancer before shooting a frame, I realised why I’d picked photography as a career. People constantly amaze me and move me to places I never thought possible.
5. Annie Leibovitz – it’s such a cliche to mention Annie in these forums, but what a wonderful role model she is. The most well-known name is contemporary photography worldwide is that of a woman. Her work is stunning and she has had a profound impact on me.
Contact Emma via emma/at/emmaphillips.com.au
Categories: Interviews with Creative Women | 1 Comment