There’s a sense of calm intrigue woven throughout the images created by Emily Shur. Her portraits are inviting, yet sly snapshots of briefly exposed ultra-personality, celebrity and otherwise. Shur’s landscapes and city vignettes are clean and uncluttered, but emotionally complex, leaving the viewer wondering what just happened here…or what is about to?
What is your earliest memory of realizing that you wanted to take photos and/or that you connected to photography as an art form?
When I was a kid, I used to draw and paint quite a bit. I used to try to draw and copy photographs and make my drawings look as “real” as possible. Eventually I realized that I could just take a photograph and have control over how the image looked that way. I took my first photo class my freshman year of high school, but it wasn’t until a couple years later that I really became serious about photography. It was my discovery of photographers like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon that really did it for me.
How did you go about learning your way around a camera?
I took photography classes in high school and then majored in photography in college.
What is your go-to camera and/or set-up and why?
It depends on what I’m shooting. For work, I mainly shoot a Hasselblad system or a Canon 5D Mark III. For fun I shoot a Mamiya 7 w/an 80mm lens or a 4×5 field camera. Cameras are like instruments. They all do something different. You reach for one over the other because of the shooting situation you find yourself in and what you want out of the final image.
Do you have a preference between film and digital, and if so, why?
If you asked me this questions a few years ago, I would’ve said film without hesitation. However, digital photography has come so far in recent years. I still shoot film (and for now, only film) for my personal work. I mainly shoot exclusively digital for work unless otherwise requested. Digital does have its selling points when it comes to work. Both film an digital have their pros and cons. Again, it really depends on the shooting circumstances and what you’re hoping for in terms of the final image.
What do you hope to express, share, or do with your photography?
I hope to share how I see the world. Photography has been my means of expression like writing, cooking, composing, painting, etc. is for others. It’s the most satisfying way I have found to express my point of view. It’s been a means of exploring different places, having different experiences, and meeting different people.
Who is a photographer that inspires you, living or dead, and why?
One of my favorite working photographers is Nadav Kander. He does amazing commercial work as well as beautiful personal work. There’s a level of artistry he brings to all of his photography, and he can shoot just about anything well. His work is not trendy, and there’s a level of technique present that I really admire. One of my photographic goals is to make classic, fundamentally good images, and he is one of the photographers working today who’s doing that.
What is one nugget of advice you’d give to someone interested in pursuing photography, whether as a passion or profession?
Well, those are two very different things – passion and profession. However, one nugget that does transcend taking pictures for fun or for work is learn your craft. There’s nothing that bums me out more than someone who fancies themselves a photographer and has no idea how a camera works. Other than that, if someone is interested in photography and taking pictures for fun, there’s not much advice to give other than ‘take more pictures’. Push yourself. Find out what it is about photography that interests you. Figure out what type of pictures you want to take and take them. If someone decides they want to take pictures as a profession well then there’s a lot to discuss. Turning your passion into your means of making a living definitely changes that thing (your passion). My main pieces of advice are:
Have a point of view.
Learn your craft.
Learn how to brush off rejection.