Interview with… Emily Malan

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Photos by Emily Malan

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Emily Malan is a freelance photographer currently residing in Los Angeles, California. Her work is primarily fashion based portraiture. It is considered to be quiet, casual and intimate.

1) When did you start to think about photography?
I first picked up a camera when I was 12 years old. It was this little fully automatic black Ricoh that my mom owned. I actually still use it time to time. Art and design was always around when I was growing up– due to the fact that my mom is a graphic designer and fine artist. I knew I wanted to do something in art. But I started to get serious about photography when I was around 18.

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2) What does it mean photography for you?
Photography is about who you are and your world. It needs to provoke an emotion in you– especially if you are wanting to shoot portraiture / fashion based work. I’d like to think my work is a reflection of my personality. I am mostly a quiet, sometimes shy person– so my work revolves around intimate captured moments.

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3) Witch kind of photography do you like more?
Analog photography is my favorite, there is no doubt about it. It’s so expensive, though! I shoot a lot of 35mm and medium format color negative film. I’m getting back into digital now– I shoot digital for jobs. I make sure whatever I use is appropriate for whatever project I am working on.

4) When you take a portrait, what is important to you?
What I find important is “Dead eye”. I don’t want an emotionless photograph. When there is no emotion in the eye, thats when you know the portrait is bad. I try to have a conversation with my models because most of them come from agencies, and the girls KNOW their looks and I want to break them out of their comfort zone and their poses and be natural.

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5) Do you think it’s important to follow a school to learn how to shoot?
There are so many people out that say they are “photographers” but they mask their bad work with photoshop to make it look better. It is so competitive to get work as a freelance photographer, so if you are going to get an education on how to be a photographer you better make sure you set yourself apart from the rest. Education is great. I’m graduating in less than five days with an undergrad degree in art school, even though I hated being there (apart from my fashion photography class), I realize that I am walking away with a great skillset that many people might not have if they didn’t go to school. I learned so much and I feel like I have evolved and progressed as an artist and photographer.

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6) What’s the photo you want to take and you never did?
Sometimes I wish I could be Ryan McGinley so I could say “I took those photos of Kate Moss that were printed in W!” But really, I want to do a series on my friend (and favorite model) Heather in San Francisco at my grandma’s Chinatown apartment. It’s on the to-do list. We’ll see if I can make it happen.

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7) What’s your photo-mission?
Career-wise, I’d love to be working in editorial as a fashion photographer and as well as shoot retail brand catalogs like Urban Outfitters. However, what I think is more fulfilling is the need and desire to push yourself to the best of your ability, to take risks and to create lots of beautiful work.

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