Inspiring Individual: Emily Roper

Chatting with Emily Roper is wonderful. We’re on opposite time zones so while she’s sipping coffee and politely munching toast, I’m trying to make sure I don’t yawn as it’s a little past my bed time.

A sunny Wellington morning and a chilly London evening unite over Skype and we sort out some minor technical issues – “I’m sorry, but you’re frozen” “Can you hear me, can you – oh you can, that’s great”.

I’ve seen her stunning photographs and know that she’s been captaining her own business ‘Clipic’ over the last two and a half years. However, when I first met Emily she was an enigmatic film student in Christchurch. I knew she later went on to work for a renowned documentary company and wondered, what prompted the change to photography?

She tells me she grew up intrigued by photography, “my Dad was a photographer…I always loved watching him process photos in the dark room.” Yet, Emily felt her path was leading her more towards film and television. After study, she landed a brilliant job in Wellington, “it felt like I was in the dream job and I was really happy”. About a year and a half into working full-time, she became sick. “I was in and out of hospital a lot, and getting a lot of operations”. It got to the point where she was so ill that she had to quit her job and move out of her flat because she could not afford to pay rent anymore. “There was rock bottom, and then there was me.” She was so mad that her health had managed to overcome everything that she had worked so hard to achieve.

“If you have anything you want to do with your life, now’s the time to do it”. These words from her stepdad were the catalyst for Emily to reshape her vision for her future. Photography was one thing she had always wanted to pursue so she borrowed a camera and started taking pictures. Soon she found herself out taking photos every day. “…You’re not thinking about anything else, you’re so focused on taking a photo, you’re not thinking about any pain your in.” In a leap of faith, she wrote up a business plan. “And… here I am”.

Starting a business at 21 was both exciting and scary. “I printed off these flyer cards and handed them out to businesses and people, I unashamedly talked to almost everyone who would listen about what I was doing…. And all of that work eventually paid off. “ She describes her decision as the ultimate ‘win win’. “I saw… how much happiness it gave me… I knew instinctively that this was the right path for me. I never intended to do it for money, I just felt so incredibly lucky to have found something I absolutely loved which I could make a career out of. “

Emily is determined to make sure photography is something she continues to fuel as a passion and not just as a career. She makes sure she always finds methods to keep moving forward. “As soon as I’m feeling unmotivated or losing confidence, it starts to affect every aspect of my business. It’s finding the balance of things… for instance, knowing that if I am having a bad day, I can just step back from my computer, pick up my camera, and take a walk to clear my head.”

Emily’s message to aspiring photographers would be “shut off all the outside noise and don’t listen to what anybody else is saying about what you should be doing, or how you should be doing it”. She dislikes reading blogs about ‘the rules of photography’ and firmly advocates believing in your own style with the mantra “don’t stop shooting”. “If you ever feel down, or sad, or anything, just pick up your camera and go take some photos…it’s the best kind of therapy.” She doesn’t feel that you need professional equipment to become a photographer either and states that some of the best photos she’s seen have been taken on cell phones.

Emily’s work has been featured by the UK’s Digital SLR Photography Magazine, Vogue Italia, Lost Freedom Magazine, The Dominion Post, and other publications. Local and international fans of her work have been moved to contact her, to let her know how her work has affected them. “It’s pretty surreal, but I definitely feel proud, knowing that I can inspire someone on the other side of the world, and actually, it works both ways – because what they say often makes me feel inspired as well.”

Below Emily shares with us three of her photos and some insight into her inspirations:

This image was a big turning point for me, because it was my first ever attempt at self portraiture. It was so much fun to create… basically I started by covering myself with tonnes of paint and took an image of myself, then I stepped out of the frame and took a tonne of frames of me throwing confetti around. Then I just stitched it all together in photoshop.

This is from a recent adventure up in Auckland. I’d been working on a feature film in Auckland for a month and hadn’t been shooting for a little while, because we’d been so busy! This shoot was exactly the sort of motivation I needed at the time, and I had such a wonderful afternoon with Allie soaking up the last of the light, wandering down to the ocean taking photographs along the way. It really reinforces how invaluable the personal work can be for my own self-motivation and inspiration. I was left feeling SO inspired after this shoot.
(Model: is Allie Campbell-Dickson).

Emily Roper

This is possibly my most favorite image I’ve taken. I feel like this really reflects my style as a photographer, especially the surreality and quirkiness of it…
(Model: Morgan Davison, MUA: Katrina Walton)


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Hazel is always immersed in the entertainment world - from tour managing boybands to contributing on KCDC to working on massive events and interviewing international talent.