Emma Latham Phillips
Would you mind introducing yourself? My name is Emma Latham Phillips. I am 22-years-old, and I live in London, UK. I have recently graduated from the University of Sussex, where I studied Philosophy and English Literature. I currently work in editorial, which means I spend the majority of my day writing about art. In the evening I am usually at an event, with friends, or kicking back with a beer watching Netflix. Photography is a passion project for me. The photographs I’ve selected here are taken on a trip I took last summer around western America.
Emma's Instagram - @emmalathamphillips_
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? I had been taking photos for some time before I realized its potential as a medium. I’d initially been using it to document friends, so although it was fun, I’d never really seen it as an art, or as a way to tell a story about the outside world. When I was 18, I travelled alone to India. While I was there, I used photography to make me feel less lonely, it created a sense of purpose. I fell in love with photography because I fell in love with the country’s people, culture and colour. I realized I wanted to document these different ways of life, as well as my own. Those two aspects are entwined for me; I find photography beautiful if I also find what I am documenting beautiful. For me, photography is spontaneous rather than conceptual; if I see something I like, I want to capture it. However, it doesn’t have to be monumental landscapes, it can be the angles of a building or the in-between-spaces. There is beauty in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. However, I love how a photograph can create extra magic: capture a moment you couldn’t process with your own eyes or enhance the colours. I predominantly work in film, so the surprise is something I love.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front of or behind the camera? Due to the fact I am predominantly a travel photographer, my favourite memories tend to be my favourite photography experiences. Living in Vancouver, BC, for a year definitely changed my attitude as a photographer. I had never been amongst such outstanding beauty. The first time I really realized how magical it was, was a few weeks in. We went on a camping trip to Lake Cheakamus. We woke at 8 am, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, everything was so blue and sparkling, the lake and the mountains. My favourite photograph I’ve made was one of a street barber in Shanghai. It was one of those spontaneous moments where I managed to capture him looking straight at me, mid-movement. His gaze is wonderful.
What inspires you to take these wonderful photographs? I initially started taking photographs as a way to record time, to document my teenage years. It’s definitely improved my memory. Now when I look at an image, I can remember what happened that day, and I love that. I am definitely inspired by light. In particular late evening light, that golden glow. I am inspired by people and their different cultures: their temples, their clothes, their make-up. I think it’s incredible what the human world has managed to create, how different it all is. I was also incredibly inspired by the ever-changing American landscape; you could travel for a few hours and go from the mountains into the desert. Everything was so large and spacious and just very breathtaking.
What are some of your passions/hobbies other than photography? I love publishing: magazines and books, and I enjoy art. I own a magazine, Chróma, which I make in my spare time. It’s all about colour. I love writing: creative, poetry and non-fiction. I love interviewing and writing about artists. I also really enjoy putting on events. I spend a lot of time dragging my boyfriend around galleries and coffee shops.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? God, there are so many. My job is to write about photography, so my list is incredibly extensive. I’ll have to give you my favourite today. This week I wrote a feature on Shane Rocheleau. Whose recent monograph “You are Masters of the Fish and Birds and All the Animals” beautifully and poetically examines his experience as a white American male: his responsibilities, his confusions and conflicts. As Shane so deftly puts it, “I hope we have the strength to reimagine what it means to be a white man. Everyone will be better for it”.
The other week I heard and met one of my favourite young photographers, Vicki King, and she said a few things that resonated with me. She began taking photos with no idea about the technical side, she just had an eye and pressed the shutter. Sometimes the mistakes she made were the most beautiful thing about the photograph. I love leaks and blemishes. She is a master of light, magic and surrealism.
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? I couldn’t tell you my favourite time of year, but I could definitely tell you my favourite kind of weather. I adore mist and rain. I love watching fog creep down the mountains, covering the pine trees in a thin blanket. I love incredibly atmospheric travel photographs, ones that are cold, moody, chilling and foreboding. I would like to make more images with that feel. Matthew Genitempo’s recent series documenting the men that live in the Ozarks captures that perfectly:
However, I am a sucker for tropical colours. I love cultures that live in the sun. I went to Cuba last year, and it was so bright and fun; so many pops of red, blue and yellow.
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? Ever since Vancouver, I have been in love with moody mountains. I really want to go to Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Nepal. The landscapes look second to none.
Don't forget to follow Emma on Instagram! (@emmalathamphillips_)