Emma Nathan is a freelance filmmaker and photographer based in London. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Guardian, The Times, Mojo, NME, Dazed Digital and Les Inrockuptibles. Her most prominent work has been with Anna Calvi, creating the artwork for her debut album, shooting many of Calvi’s press shots and a number of her videos. Hit Read More and get to know Emma!
What is your background? Can you tell us about your career so far?
I studied film in Southampton, cinema has been a major influence in my life and my work, it has gripped me since I was a child. After university I followed my love of film and went on to be an editor for film trailers. I have worked in post production for 10 years editing a variety of different things whilst at the same time developing my passion of filming and photography. As a kid I loved watching the work of filmmakers from the American Independent cinema from the late 80′s early 90′s, such as Hal Hartley, Gus Van Sant and Allison Anders, from that I was drawn to New Queer Cinema, I was struck by the rawness of these filmmakers, they contrasted majorly with the mainstream, bringing a fresh individual vision, a different voice representing what was happening in that culture. This clashed spectacularly with the mainstream cinema. People like Todd Haynes and Gregg Araki, they have such different visions but are both so beautiful in completely original ways.
Have you ever worked within the fashion world? Why?
I think the difficult relationship between art and commerce is played out to an extreme in the fashion world, and I prefer to stay on the side of producing art.
On the topic of gear: do you think it matters when trying to make that great picture?
I think passion and a creative eye are the major tools in art, the gear comes second, you can’t just buy an amazing camera and take amazing pictures. I generally use a digital SLR, although I also have a Hasselblad and a Mamiya, as well as a simple point-and-shoot film camera. I love the organic nature of my film cameras but I also really appreciate the immediacy of working with digital and the freedom it brings.
Is there another media you’d like to experiment with besides photography and video? Why?
I feel I have so much I still want to try with film and photography there’s so much depth there to explore, I think these formats will keep me busy for some time.
Could you tell us about your long term collaboration with Anna Calvi? How did it start? What makes it so fruitful?
We met at university, Anna was studying music and I was studying film. We both had such a deep passion for our individual mediums that we just clicked creatively and we’ve been collaborating ever since. We have always had a very similar creative vision so working together felt very natural.
Are there any interesting story you’d like to share with us about the making of the video for One Breath? Was it hard work?
The video for One Breath happened quite organically, I couldn’t commit to the album artwork because of other obligations but I really wanted to do some work on this album so we I decided I would film an album trailer with Anna. Originally I was going to shoot it in London as that’s where I’m based, but the night before Anna set off to Mexico I was freed up so I booked a ticket. I did a lot of filming on the fly, guerrilla style, all around San Miguel, and then in various set scenes within a beautiful, old, artist’s home. I wanted to create a classic timeless feeling of Latin America.
What are some tips, tricks or suggestions to a girl starting out today in the photography world?
Shoot what you know, shoot what’s around you, especially when it comes to people. I find the closer you are to your subject the easier it is to create intimacy in your work.
I hope to delve further into filmmaking, it has always been my first passion and my work has lead me full circle back to it. I enjoy the energy of music videos but I want to move further into storytelling. I have plans to work on some short films after Anna’s album promotion is completed.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?
I love the work of Miranda July, I think it feels really innocent yet complex. She manages to create such intimate, insightful scenarios, she’s great at capturing and communicating human nature.
File under: Interview