The Art of Emma Roberts

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Luke Lindsey, Staff Writer

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Black and white film photography is no walk in the park, but its rewarding results can be breathtaking. With smooth transitions between black and white, filling in the gaps with values and shades of gray, light is alive and playful, running around as a child does. When caught, it wraps and plasters itself around the faces of people and the landscapes of beautiful scenery, like how the cover of a book hugs its pages. Images of whatever lies beyond the lense, displayed on a tangible piece of paper that breathes and speaks as you hold it in your hands; one that takes blood, sweat, tears, and a spite of chance to bring to life, but is a piece of you and your subject nonetheless. This is a peek into the art of Emma Roberts, a growing photographer who had discovered her talent in early 2013, her freshman year.

When it was recommended by her brother’s girlfriend that she take Mrs. Hanline’s film photography course here at FCHS, she was not the least bit terrified. She had learned bits and pieces of the art through friends and from self-exploration.

Before photography, Emma had picked up drawing and ballet at a young age. Her sketchbook is littered with pictures of people. The second sketch in her first sketchbook stands out significantly among the rest. It is a drawing of the great Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Growing up on an intense shared interest in the series between her and her family, it is not a surprise to anyone who knows her that she chose this character for one of her drawings. The weariness, age, and omniscient expression on Dumbledore’s face beautifully portrays wisdom, guidance, and curiosity (which is that of his character) in a breathtaking realism, considering that this was her second attempt at drawing people. It almost feels like if you speak to him on the paper, his pencil-lead lips will move and you would hear his voice clearly. Witnessing the power and emotion of capturing someone’s face on paper, Emma began developing a love for using people in her art.

After having a background in the visual arts, Emma’s eye was already trained in a way unique to herself, so consequently photography was almost second nature for her. Taking inspiration from Ansel Adams, she began with landscapes, capturing the world’s beauties in an old-fashioned but fascinating way. Although these photographs turned out in her favor, she still felt that there was more to tell through the lense.

Eventually, she began photographing people, and ironically that became her new favorite subject to photograph (landscapes being her second favorite).  “People, which is funny because I didn’t think I would enjoy that, and I kind of didn’t at first with film photography, because it’s kind of hard to work with people, but I ended up falling in love with the way that looked; especially in black and white. It’s really cool.”

When asked about one of her favorite photographs during our interview, her eyes glowed as she immediately brought up a photo Annie Leibovitz took of the Queen of England. Queen Elizabeth the Second sat indoors, surrounded by her belongings and wearing her crown, but looking longingly out an open glass window from where light was shining in and on her face. Emma finished our conversation on the piece by saying the picture “says a lot about that person.”

Taking inspiration from Annie, Emma talked about how much she loved working with cool lighting, always manipulating it to “find ways to highlight them as an individual.” Although lighting is one of her most used elements, she does not own a studio of her own where she can have complete control of lighting, nor does she want to. Instead, she usually finds creative ways to manipulate natural lighting using reflectors, mirrors, windows, and whatever else. “I like using natural lighting, I’d kinda say that’s my style. I take a lot of pictures outside.”

After asking her if she ever goes to cities or towns to find subjects, she began telling a story where she went to Asheville, NC and began snapping photos of people without them knowing. “I took them without telling them, but that was with my film camera and I never developed that film.” She mentioned that this was one of a couple rolls of film she never got around to developing, but she did say she hopes to develop them one day. Imagine the nostalgia of looking at photographs you took months prior for the first time.

Emma Roberts’ photography is undoubtedly one of her best and most breathtaking forms of expression. Her future holds many things; with her art and her dreams, she is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Follow her instagram account @emrobphotography for updates, past/future works, and more!

 

Emma made multiple prints of this same photograph and plans to make a collage that would eventually appear like one giant print. This is one of the many prints she is using.

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