Mar 30, 2020
Emilia is a Polish photographer deeply inspired by literature, cinema and overall by people. In her series 'Venture', Emilia portrays the life of her sister Beti just before she finishes school and heads for independence and adulthood. With thoughtful and inspiring scenes, Emilia seeks to mirror her own 'venture' into adulthood, when previously she left home and move into another country. Now, after following her own path, she returns home as a photographer looking for new adventures to document.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
EW - Thank you for having me! My name is Emilia Martin and I currently live in my hometown in Southern Poland with my husband and our two cats. Before moving back to Poland I lived in London and Dubai, where I worked as a stewardess for Emirates airline. It was a bit of a shock to return to a quiet, peaceful life here, but it's given me a chance to slow down and reflect on my life and photography.
Currently I work as a translator and I do some private English conversation lessons. Working this way is very flexible and allows me a lot of freedom. I've always been interested in languages as forms of expression and I consider photography to be one of them – definitely my favourite. I studied linguistics and British and American literature. Recently I graduated from the Sputnik photography mentoring program, where I worked on a long term project under the guidance of the Sputnik collective members and in particular of my wonderful mentor and friend, Michal Luczak. At the moment we were supposed to be preparing our graduation exhibitions, but the pandemic has changed the plan and I'm stuck at home instead. I can't complain, I can finally go through my archives, read some books and catch up with some TV series. “Fleabag” is my new discovery.
am - How did you start in photography?
EW - It's hard to say when exactly I discovered photography. When I was studying British and American literature I was always late to register for the lectures. While my colleagues booked all the places on subjects like “legal translation” or “English in business” my only choices were “film noir in American cinematography” or “David Lynch's portrayal of America”. These options seemed very impractical at the time, but I believe they were my introduction to the creative use of image and left a huge impact on the way I see film and photography now. I took my first photographs around that time, but I started thinking seriously about photography when I worked as a stewardess. After each flight I had a 24 or 48 hours layover in a completely new place somewhere in the world, and on each flight I worked with a different crew, which meant I never knew anybody on the flight. In the beginning I used to hang out with the crews but spending 24 hours with a group of strangers gets tiring after some time. During one of the flights I met a pilot who was passionate about photography. He explained to me all the technicalities of taking photographs and since then I spent every layover walking alone with my camera. I also discovered photobooks around that time.
am - What inspires your work?
EW - People, social injustice, films and books. But most important people.
am - What is 'Venture' about?
EW - When I was a teenage girl I strongly believed that my life would begin when I'd move somewhere else, away from the city I come from. My 'venture' out into the world began with a different city, then another country and eventually a new continent. To my surprise, as the time passed I became aware that I was being accompanied by the feeling of my roots decaying, of anxieties and homesickness.
When I eventually decided to move back to my hometown, it so happened that I returned as my sister began her preparations for her own departure: she was studying towards her imminent school leaving exams, then she chose her university and finally moved out, beginning her own venture into independence and adulthood. There's a big age gap between us, and witnessing her growing up naturally led me to reflect on my own chaotic early adulthood. Whilst I had been living and travelling over the world, back home there had been births and birthdays, deaths, funerals and major changes to my family structure. Combined, this formed a new family landscape, a confusing and unfamiliar one. Beti, my sister, led me on my confusing journey back, while I patiently observed her venturing away. It felt as if we had become one another's guide. 'Venture' is about both of us.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
EW - Recently I've been inspired by a wonderful film writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I also love the work of Andrea Arnold, a film director. As for my favourite photographers, it changes a lot. But I love Vanessa Winship, Gregory Halpern and Justine Kurland.
am - What is your favourite movie?
EW - If I had to pick one, it would be “American Honey” by Andrea Arnold. It had a huge impact on me. Arnold's films are very honest, organic and visually beautiful.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
EW - At the moment I really love both of Doug Dubois's books. Also Alessandra Sanguinetti's “The Adventures of Guille and Belinda” is such a wonderful book.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
EW - Thank you!
All images © Emilia Martin