EMMY HAGEN - INTERVIEW
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
I've only been pursuing photography professionally for the past three years or so. I've always loved the creative arts - whether music, theater, or film - and I received my bachelor's degree in Producing for Film & TV in Boston, MA. I began my career working in marketing for a record label in NYC but soon realized I missed the the outdoors, being on my feet, and working with my hands. So I began spending time outside more, and used photography as a way to do that. The first year I started thinking about photography more seriously, I began working for a company called Outstanding In The Field, touring the country putting on beautiful farm dinners. It was the perfect opportunity for me to practice shooting in environments that inspired me. I then dipped my toe in the wedding photography world 2nd shooting with a fellow high school alumni turned amazing wedding photographer, Lindsay Hackney, and tried my hand at weddings for a summer. I quickly learned it wasn't quite the right niche for me, as I am a very methodical person, and I found it to be a very high-paced and high stress type of work. That is when I applied and took a job working for a group of restaurants and their oyster farm counterpart in the Boston area. I am their in-house photographer, social media manager, graphic designer, etc. But through working with them, and especially my time working on the oyster farm side of things, I have started to steer my photography to it's rightful niche. I am so excited by capturing the people behind the farms that we work with. I'll put on waders and join the farm crew out in the bay any day to photograph them. It's the best of both worlds that I love.
Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
My body is a Nikon D750, and I have four lenses I rotate. Nikon 24-120mm
Sigma Art 35mm (the one that spends most time on my camera)
What does your post-production process look like?
I treat nearly every shooting session differently. While I love my Summit presets, they don't always translate exactly how I envision the look of my final edit to be. But often times I will start with Summit (I love 03 and 04 most of all) and do some heavy tweaks until it feels just right with the subject - I usually bring up the highlights, tweaking the blues and oranges). Summit just has an earthy and warm tone that I am always after.
How has your photography style evolved over time?
I think my style has remained pretty consistent, honestly. I am drawn to similar subjects and colors, which I think impact my style. But I am still slowly refining my taste for certain framing styles and subjects day by day. It's a constant learning process, and sometimes feels daunting to think of all the work I have ahead of me to get to a place where I can be 100% confident in "my style".
What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
I am pretty minimalist. Capturing is pretty much just with my Nikon D750 with my Sigma Art 35mm. I don't often use a tripod or lighting gear with the shoots I do. And for editing and enhancing I rely on Lightroom primarily, with occasional Photoshop edits mixed in.
What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. I find the subject I photograph that gives me the most fulfillment is also my greatest challenge. And that is people. It's easy to get discouraged or shut down by someone who shys away from the camera, which is often the case with people who aren't used to being photographed. But I try and remind myself that the more comfortable I appear (even if I feel uncomfortable), the more comfortable they will feel, and you'll get much better photographs that way.
What type of photography do you most enjoy?
I am still figuring it out every day, but right now I love photographing people. Especially when it involves telling their story. Right now I am spending a lot of time with farmers - they are such passionate and generally happier people to be around that just their company out in nature is what I enjoy most.
What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
I am discouraged by the overload of content that is not always thoughtful (of which sometimes I am a participant). It's very difficult to find quiet moments when there is a constant stream to look at. That's why I admire those who are going back to film. There is something about that process that forces you be a bit more thoughtful in the moment. I carry an old Minolta film camera with me in my personal time to try and capture family and friends that way.
When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
In photography? Well, I think the best example would be a wedding I shot last year. The couple was lovely, but after delivering images they came back asking for a very specific list that she had never informed me she wanted, and I felt badly because they didn't exist. It was also one of my first weddings, and I thought I had failed her in some way. But I overcame it by choosing a different path in photography. That constant pressure to meet (somewhat) unrealistic expectations took the joy out of the process for me. But ultimately worked out in that I learned what I didn't want to pursue quickly.
What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
I honestly don't know quite yet. But as long as I am also taking something positive away from the project, outside of the photos, that is a success. I find photography is a great catalyst for meeting new people, and I would love to continue to use it in that way.
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