On October 20th, 2017, AAT was born with the intentions of hearing the stories of others, putting a value on those stories, and creating something memorable out of them. For almost two years, we’ve been trying to live this out and talk about this goal. It’s been an enjoyable experience being able to do so. There’s something extra encouraging coming across someone else with our same desire, the desire to learn people’s stories, care about those stories, and create something beautiful out of them. We’re excited to share the following conversation because our guest is someone who also understands the reality of how much our stories matter!
This week, we’re joined by Emily Thompson. Emily is a lifestyle photographer and the owner of Light Chaser Photography. As a lifestyle photographer, Emily’s work revolves around shooting people in natural moments, environments, and seasons of life. Her job is to capture her clients’ true, daily dynamic. Emily gets to know people, hears their stories, and uses what she’s learned to create and share something to be enjoyed! Does this sound familiar, AAT followers?
Emily, thank you so much for joining us this week. Let’s start this conversation off by hearing how you came to become a storytelling photographer!
“I was born and raised here in Elko. My love of photography came from my dad and the importance he put on it. He was big into it and mostly focused on landscape pictures. When I was twelve, I begged him for my first camera! He got me a little thirty-five-millimeter film camera. In high school, senior year, I took a film photography class and went from there!
“I went off to Reno for college (University of Nevada Reno), where I graduated with my degree in interior design. However, I could not find a job to save my life. My fiancé was not getting many hours at work either, so we figured we had to do something! My parents offered to help us get on our feet back out here in Elko if we wanted to move back home, so we said, okay! We’ve been back here for ten years now!
“I’ve always been drawn to people’s stories, learning about who they are and from where they come. I figure, as soon as you learn somebody’s story, you’re going to love something about them. When lifestyle photography started becoming a thing, I followed a few photographers who focused on the storytelling aspect, and I knew that’s where my art was at.”
Emily, can you please explain your approach to lifestyle photography?
“I really try to get to know people and what is important to them. I meet with my clients ahead of time, so they can see that I’m a person who cares, rather than just another face behind a camera. I do this because I know that letting your guard down around a complete stranger can sound super intimidating.
“When I’m photographing people, I’ll tell them not to even focus on me and the camera but on the things that make them the most comfortable. If you give the people the room to do what is automatically natural to them, they’ll show you what their life dynamic is.”
Have Elko area residents always been receptive to the concept of lifestyle photography?
“Not at first. Many people saw themselves as too uncomfortable, awkward, or scared to do it. I would want to set up in-home sessions with people, but they would get nervous because they thought their house was a mess. I had to tell them that it’s all about capturing what your life is like at the moment so they can have those real memories.
“This is why I have had to learn how to be vulnerable myself. I can be a guarded person, especially in big groups. So, I’ve had to find ways to put myself out there on social media or even in my sessions so people can get to know me. I’ve had to learn to let my human side show. This is still a work in progress for me. This is something I’ve really started working on just this year. However, by me doing this, I hope that this will help people feel more comfortable with sharing themselves on camera.”
Finally, Emily, why do you believe getting to know our neighbors and their stories is so important? How would you recommend AAT’s readers go about, not only getting to know others, but also letting others get to know them?
“Getting to know people bridges a gap. With all the technology we have, many of our relationships are behind screens. Technology can only get us so far, and we’re missing so much by not having these face-to-face conversations with people.
“So, if you want to get to know people, ask questions and be curious about others; people normally like to talk about themselves. If you’re having a hard time opening up and letting others know you, then maybe find five different things you’re comfortable sharing with the world. You don’t have to share everything, but you can share bits and pieces of the things that are important to you right now. It’s all about getting to know people. It’s about stepping away from technology and focusing on the here and now. That’s at the root of why I do what I do; I want people to connect and have those memories forever. I work with all kinds of families from all kinds of dynamics, and no matter what their story is, I’m happy to capture what’s true for them.”
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See you around, Elko!
Written by: Anthony Crosby
Edited by: Nadara Merrill
Images provided by: Light Chaser Photography