culture | 27th january 2017
in our second catch up with kiwi creatives based overseas, photographer emma anderson takes us on a classic americana roadie and tells us about life in her new chosen city.
interview: russell kleyn
photographs: emma anderson
Hi Emma, how are you?
I'm OK, thanks. Its a difficult time here in America and I've just come back from the Women's March on Washington. Being a part of such an incredible movement is empowering and inspiring, but so totally heartbreaking. Do we still have to fight for equality & control over our own bodies?
It's horrible that it's taken this big government change to wake people up against the injustices facing so many but hopefully we are all shaken out of our apathy.
Where are you from?
Originally I'm from the countryside near Raetihi and from there I moved to Tauranga & Hamilton before settling in Wellington.
When did you get into photography?
In High School I got very passionate about photography and experimenting in the darkroom.
You’re currently based in the USA. Whereabouts are you living?
I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I'm coming up to my 5 year anniversary and I've always lived around this area, I love it.
Thanks for taking us on a journey & showing us your recent road trip series... the open road! the feeling of freedom, do you think there is such a thing as the American dream?
If you are talking about the American road trip dream, then Yes! I love to travel within America as much as possible. You can go for hours driving down a back country desert road without passing another car and pull up to a gas station that seems to be lost in time. Or just last week I was in Florida driving with friends through the everglades with Alligators lining the swampy road and we stumbled across the cutest little town with a culture and landscape so unique to that part of the country.
"some people just do not have access to the same opportunities and not everybody is treated with the same fairness and equality"
But when it comes to the traditional notion of the American dream, I think that's a little problematic. The idea that each person has an equal opportunity to 'pull themselves up by their bootstraps' through sheer hard work & determination doesn't take into account the ingrained prejudice and racism people face here in America. Some people just do not have access to the same opportunities and not everybody is treated with the same fairness and equality. People have to work four times as hard as their neighbour as a result. But in saying that, there is so much opportunity here and so much incredible talent. I really do see artists working hard and that slowly but surely turning over into success.
They are really filmic… are there any movies that inspired this series?
Thank you. Not directly, although I do love films like Badlands & Days of heaven, with so much space and quietness to them. But I just try to take a photo when it feels natural and non-intrusive to the adventure or moment.
Where did you go on your roadie?, who did you go with? & what did you drive?
This was a special trip with my mother and Sister. They both came over from NZ and we met in Las Vegas (hell on earth) before jumping in our shiny black Ford and heading to Zion, Utah. From there we went East & South into Arizona, circling all the way around the Grand Canyon, before heading West into California. We stopped for a few days in the desert near Joshua tree and parted ways in LA.
Whats your favourite thing to order at a roadside diner?
I love the diners here in America. The interiors are a wonderland for shooting. I'm a vegetarian so I usually stick to bottomless coffee and pie.
What was the soundtrack to your road trip?
Lots of Frank Ocean, Fleetwood Mac & one hell of a 90's pop & hip hop playlist.
What excites you most about photography?
I really love to capture some kind of intimate interaction between the landscape or the model / sitter and myself, where it seems like everything else around you, or the team & fabrication of a fashion shoot, slips away.
Do you find it hard to balance your personal work with your editorial/commercial work?
Im slowly getting better at it! I find it tricky for sure, but that balance is important to me so I try my best.
Are you managing to make a living off photography in NYC?
I am. For a long time I was managing a photo studio here in Brooklyn and am now working full time as a freelance photographer and assistant.
"the people and the continual inspiration from the city itself, there is such an air of possibility and creative vibrancy"
What excites you most about NYC?
The people and the continual inspiration from the city itself, there is such an air of possibility and creative vibrancy. It pushes you forward.
NYC provides great creative energy, but it can also be a pretty full on energy drainer - where do you go to escape the daily grind?
So so true. I try to get out of Brooklyn & the city as much as possible. If I can't physically escape the city then i'll head to Transmitter Park in Greenpoint during Summer. Or I'll head upstate, hiking in the Catskills or just a day trip to Bear mountain.
"the industry just seemed more welcoming and accepting here, probably because there is so much more work to go around"
How would you compare the NYC’s photography industry to the industry here in Wellington/NZ?
I was living in Wellington whilst in University and stayed on only a year after that. I honestly don't think that I know enough about the Wellington industry to compare. But one thing that really shocked me when I got here was people immediately offering me opportunities and bringing me onto teams. The industry just seemed more welcoming and accepting here, probably because there is so much more work to go around.
Digital or film?
Definitely depends on what the project is. I have a few different cameras and formats I like to use, digital, 35mm and medium format, and I think it really depends on the situation. Usually it'll be digital for a client or more commercial fashion, 35mm for fashion work that I can have a little more creative freedom with and medium format is so good for portraits.
What do you miss most about NZ?
Family, space, connection to nature and comfort.
emma's portfolio: www.emmaanderson.info
emma anderson: @emmaxanderson
#emmaanderson #daysofheaven #roadtrip #americana #roadie #americandream #womansmarch #washington #equality #control #nyc #newyork #usa #kiwicreatives #catchup #photographer #series #photographs #loandbehold #loandbeholdnz #newmediafromthenewworld