WOMEN IN BUSINESS, EMORY HALL
I am thrilled to bring you a new Women in Business feature this week, and one that is close to my heart. Emory Hall is not only an accomplished photographer, traveler, and humanitarian, she is also a cousin of mine. Our grandmothers are sisters, and with the recent passing of my grandmother, it feels right that we feature someone from our lineage for this Women in Business post. The entrepreneurial spirit has always run deep in our family, and it has been a pleasure to follow along as Emory tours the world with her camera in hand and a story to tell. I hope you enjoy getting to know her.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a very vibrant imagination as a young girl, as I’m sure is the case with most kids. I did a lot of daydreaming about the woman I wanted to become when I grew up, and everyday she looked different. One day, I wanted to be a professional figure skater, and the next day, I wanted to be a fashion designer. All of the careers I imagined myself in, though, had a common thread - they put me in a place where I could express myself and my creativity. Looking back now, I can see that I always felt a call to be an artist, I just never knew what that looked like. Even now it changes.
Is there another female in your industry whose work you look up to?
The photography industry is still a male dominated one and there is a definite lack of representation of female storytellers. This is something I’m really passionate about changing, because the female voice is one that really needs to be heard, especially in the face of our world as it is right now. One of my favorite female photographers is Ami Vitale, a National Geographic photographer, filmmaker, speaker and explorer. Not only is her imagery stunning, but she is using her lens to make a profound and positive impact in our world, something that I really admire.
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Your life and work involves a lot of travel, what have been some challenges in living life "on-the-go?"
I’m definitely a nomad at heart, so the road is often a really comfortable and natural place for me. That being said, a lot of travel looks far more glamorous than it actually is. There’s entire stories behind the images that I share - the 12 hour train delay, the sleeping on the floor, the Delhi belly, the sleepless nights … Travel is tough on the body, and if you’re not diligent about your health than the road can really take it out of you. My decade of travels over to Asia have been some of the most beautiful adventures, but they’ve also come with a lot of illnesses that have taken a long time to recover from.
Your husband is also an artist (musician Trevor Hall), does his work influence your own? And vice versa?
I always say that my husband and I are saying the same thing through our art, we’re just saying it in different ways. We are both extremely passionate about preserving culture as well as the study of the self. His music is an exploration and reverence of that, and I believe my imagery and storytelling is also. In that way, each of our arts pushes the other’s forward, and deeper. We support each other in our creations and we also challenge each other to think wider, deeper and differently … Having a partner who is also an artist allows for there to be a foundation of understanding about the rollercoaster ride that the path of the artist often asks us to be on. It’s a very non-traditional way of life, and to have someone who not only understands that, but embraces it, is a huge gift.
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What is the best piece of advice you were given when starting on the path of photography?
I was told early on by a teaching to “just keep shooting”. The more you photograph, the better you get and the more you hone the uniqueness of your eye. That advice has always stuck with me, and it’s something I remind myself of often. Just keep taking photos … keep creating. Don’t stop.
Do you have any rituals around your work?
That’s a cool question! I think that my work is a ritual in itself. When I’m photographing I’m in a beautiful space of creative flow that feels very similar to a deep meditation or a spiritual experience. It perhaps sounds cliche, but it’s true. Taking photographs is, at its best, a divine flow state for me.
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What does success mean to you?
If, through my art, I can leave this world a better place; if I can give a voice or a platform to those whose circumstances inhibit that; if I can broaden perspectives and build bridges rather than amplify differences … that is success to me. That is all I came here to do. That is the true heart and mission behind my work.
What is your favorite thing to come home to after a long trip?
Honestly, coming back to a space that is my own energy. Living and traveling through so many different environments can sometimes be ungrounding, and to come home to a space that is mine and safe is always like a deep breath for me. That, and the ability to cook my own food. It sounds simple, but it's also an energetic thing. Clean food made with my own love and energy is something I cherish and miss while I’m on the road.
How has social media changed the way you view photography and sharing your work?
Social media often gets a bad rap, and honestly, for good reason. While I recognize its ability to cause a lot of pain and destruction, I also recognize its power to do a lot of good in the world. Platforms like Instagram have, in my opinion, further affirmed the power of visual storytelling. If used right, Instagram and other media platforms give all of us a platform to do a lot of good in the world. When I’m sharing my own work, that’s something I often think about. I ask myself, is this meaningful? Is this creating a positive impact, no matter how small?
If you had to choose one subject to shoot for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Humans. I am endlessly fascinated by the beauty of the human spirit.
To learn more about Emory's work, visit her website and follow her on Instagram: @emoryhall.