Emily Earl is busy. It may sound wholesome and fluffy, but she’s one of those selfless people who brings artists together and cultivates the community—so much so, even the most brutal hater can’t do what they do best. Her portraits are raw. There’s something rare and trustworthy about Emily that allows her to capture a subject’s true identity better than any social encounter. That ability led this Savannah native to open her own fine art print shop and run public relations and booking for a local gallery, all while maintaining a steady hold on her photography. Woof.
We caught up with Emily and she got candid with us about her damn darling upbringing and her desires to photograph people abroad.
Foul South: Tell our readers you've never met a bit about yourself.
Emily Earl: “I live and work in Savannah, GA, where I was born. I graduated from the Savannah College of Art & Design with a BFA in Photography in 2007. I've been working in the photo world since about 2001 when I got my first job at a local photo lab, and now I have just opened my own fine art print shop -- Prismatic Prints -- where I work with a variety of clients & other artists. I provide services like film and image scanning, photo retouching & restoration, fine art inkjet printing and print mounting. I also do some graphic design work - logo, flyer, album and book cover designs, etc. You can find out more at www.primaticprints.com I'm also the Director of Public Relations & Special Events at Sulfur Studios, a local gallery, artist studio & event space.”
FS: Dang, you’re pretty busy. What drew you to pursue the photography?
EE: “Both my parents were photographers and I grew up naturally intrigued by it; besides music, photography was pretty much all they talked about. My parents bought me a little point and shoot camera when I was four and I fell in love. Some of my earliest memories are going out with my parents on photo trips, hiking and exploring. My dad was a photography professor and once a week he'd have his students over and everyone would show their work on a slideshow in our living room. Most people would be super bored by that I guess, but I loved sitting in the dark and watching images projected on the big screen while everyone sat around talking about their work, or shouting out opinions. There was something really magical about it, and I loved that getting a glimpse into that person’s life each week. It was really inspiring to see they were consistently making images, and that it was important for them to share those images with other people.”
FS: You grew up in an awesome creative atmosphere. What about everyday candids sparks your interest?
EE: "I've always been an observer. I'm intrigued by body language and the things people express without realizing—their inner life versus outer life I guess. As a portrait photographer you have to decide how much control you want to have over your subjects, and I find you get a much 'truer' image of someone when you just wait and see what they do. Sometimes I direct a little bit, a nudge in one direction or another can really bring about the right moment. But these days I do a lot of waiting for the shot rather than intervening. And sometimes the moments happen so fast that honestly, it’s kind of just a reflex. There's not a lot of time to think because then the moment's gone. Once I make my first image of the night, it’s like the hunt is on and I'm searching a few hours for that next shot."
FS: Camera and format of choice?
EE: “For the last few years I've been shooting almost exclusively with a Polaroid ProPack camera. It uses the 'peel apart' type of instant film, Fujifilm FP-3000b, which is black and white and was discontinued about 2 years ago. Every few months I go on ebay and pay way too much for about 100 or 200 shots worth and just stockpile it, waiting for the right times to use it. The ProPack has a great flash and is perfect for nighttime shots. But I also just love a classic 35mm.”
FS: What's a wild series you look forward to?
EE: “Every year on Halloween I go out and take portraits of people in their costumes. Some of my weirder shots are from Halloween, but hopefully there’s some crazy shit out there that I'm about to stumble on.”
FS: So what now?
EE: “I've been spending a lot of time getting my print shop up and running, and working with other artists to produce their work, which is a wonderful experience for me—I love to learn about how artists plan and execute their work.”
FS: You've done a lot to contribute to the Savannah art community-- expand on what made you decide to start a gallery.
EE: “My friend had an idea to start a gallery with artist studios and I jumped on the opportunity to work with her to make it happen. Savannah is really exciting because there's still a lot of room to come in with an idea and figure out how to make it work, no one has laid down the rules yet. I remember when we were applying for our license from the city they had no idea what we were trying to do, because it had never been done here before—something as basic as artist studios! But it's really great to be able to provide people with an affordable place to make their work, so they can have a space that’s just theirs purely for creating. Through the studio, we're able to connect different artists together by having them all under one roof, there have been a lot of interesting collaborations come about. It's great to walk into the studio and overhear two artists who didn’t previously know one another sharing ideas and teaching each other new techniques, etc. My main task in starting up Sulfur Studios was just reaching out to people to get them involved. Sharing the idea with the right people who would help support us. Most of the work I do at Sulfur Studios is public relations and event planning. It's been quite a learning process and has changed my life immeasurably in the last two years.”
FS: What will be etched on your gravestone?
EE: "Just burn me up and toss me off a cliff when the time comes."
FS: What's your dream shoot?
EE: "I'd love to go photograph at the Grecian Islands or Morocco or Namibia. I've also always wanted to go to the Ukraine and do a project about trying to find my grandfather’s village—he immigrated here in 1920 and had the best stories. I'd love to see what that place looks like now compared to the landscape he described in my head."
FS: Inspiration, yada yada, who dunit for you?
EE: "My parents were definitely hugely inspirational to me, I still always bounce photo ideas off my mom. She's one of my favorite photographers and I go back and look at her portrait work whenever I need to see some super silky tones or think about what it means to connect with your subject. Some favorite photographers would include Robert Frank, Jill Freedman, Walker Evans, Brassai, and Weegee."
FS: It's industry night out and you ask for an ice cold...
EE: "cheap beer with a lime in it or a Greyhound."
FS: What does nobody know about you?
EE: "Whatever it is that I don't know yet about myself."