Chatting with Emily Roper is wonderful. Weâ€™re on opposite time zones so while sheâ€™s sipping coffee and politely munching toast, Iâ€™m trying to make sure I donâ€™t yawn as itâ€™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 â€“ â€œIâ€™m sorry, but youâ€™re frozenâ€ â€œCan you hear me, can you â€“ oh you can, thatâ€™s greatâ€.
Iâ€™ve seen her stunning photographs and know that sheâ€™s been captaining her own business â€˜Clipicâ€™ 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, â€œmy Dad was a photographerâ€¦I always loved watching him process photos in the dark room.â€ Yet, Emily felt her path was leading her more towards film and television. After study, she landed a brilliant job in Wellington, â€œit felt like I was in the dream job and I was really happyâ€. About a year and a half into working full-time, she became sick. â€œI was in and out of hospital a lot, and getting a lot of operationsâ€. 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. â€œThere was rock bottom, and then there was me.â€ She was so mad that her health had managed to overcome everything that she had worked so hard to achieve.
â€œIf you have anything you want to do with your life, nowâ€™s the time to do itâ€. 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. â€œâ€¦Youâ€™re not thinking about anything else, youâ€™re so focused on taking a photo, youâ€™re not thinking about any pain your in.â€ In a leap of faith, she wrote up a business plan. â€œAndâ€¦ here I amâ€.
Starting a business at 21 was both exciting and scary. â€œI 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 doingâ€¦. And all of that work eventually paid off. â€œ She describes her decision as the ultimate â€˜win winâ€™. â€œI sawâ€¦ how much happiness it gave meâ€¦ 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. â€œ
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. â€œAs soon as Iâ€™m feeling unmotivated or losing confidence, it starts to affect every aspect of my business. Itâ€™s finding the balance of thingsâ€¦ 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.â€
Emilyâ€™s message to aspiring photographers would be â€œshut off all the outside noise and donâ€™t listen to what anybody else is saying about what you should be doing, or how you should be doing itâ€. She dislikes reading blogs about â€˜the rules of photographyâ€™ and firmly advocates believing in your own style with the mantra â€œdonâ€™t stop shootingâ€. â€œIf you ever feel down, or sad, or anything, just pick up your camera and go take some photosâ€¦itâ€™s the best kind of therapy.â€ She doesnâ€™t feel that you need professional equipment to become a photographer either and states that some of the best photos sheâ€™s seen have been taken on cell phones.
Emilyâ€™s work has been featured by the UKâ€™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. â€œItâ€™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.â€
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 createâ€¦ 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. Iâ€™d been working on a feature film in Auckland for a month and hadnâ€™t been shooting for a little while, because weâ€™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).
This is possibly my most favorite image Iâ€™ve taken. I feel like this really reflects my style as a photographer, especially the surreality and quirkiness of itâ€¦
(Model: Morgan Davison, MUA: Katrina Walton)