• The New Counterculture

Featured Photographer: Emily Crombez

Emily Crombez is a new face in the Detroit photography scene - usually, she works in the Detroit area, but currently Emily is studying Psychology and Philosophy at Central Michigan University As a fashion and portrait photographer, she strives to stand out by constantly pushing herself to explore, create new concepts, and use popular locations in new ways. She shapes her visions for shoots by finding inspiration in urban locations and dramatic, modern fashion. Bringing new, edgy, dynamic visions to life is one of her favorite things to do, and she is a firm believer that the creative vision behind a shoot is more important than a photographer's gear.

Emily Crombez

" I suppose I've always had something I wanted to communicate with other people, even if I've been unaware of exactly what.

1. What inspired you to do photography? Is there certain themes in your photography? Do you like to photography a certain group of people // object ? If so, why? My inspiration comes from geometry, my emotions/personal experiences, and instilling the same feelings of awe in others that I find in a well composed photo. I prefer to focus on people for sure, especially people who are emotive, flexible, and expressive. Even more importantly though, I look for people that I can connect with - when I connect with people, it makes our art that much more meaningful for us. It gives us the opportunity to collaborate on a narrative and bring a story or feeling to life, and challenges us to share that story or feeling to another. 

2. Did you grow up loving photography or any other forms of creativity? If so, what were those other outlets? I have tried my hand at just about every medium - I've painted with watercolors and acrylic, drawn with charcoal, graphite, colored pencils, sculpting, origami, sewing, embroidery, knitting, crocheting - you name it, I've probably at least attempted it. I suppose I've always had something I wanted to communicate with other people, even if I've been unaware of exactly what. I find that with photography, I have the opportunity to not only create what I see from scratch, but I can find and arrange what's already in the world. The camera is a "window to the world", but we as photographers exercise our creative perspective in understanding that we can play with whatever we want within a frame. That's also a big part of the reason why behind the scenes coverage can be so entertaining to me - things look one way, and end up being completely different and unexpected.

3. How does music play a role in your photography? Are you inspired by any musical movement? I wouldn't say that I'm inspired by any musical movement in particular, but I do take inspiration from the artists I listen to. A couple of the artists I have consistently pulled inspiration from are Wet, Oh Wonder, Halsey, Pvris, and alt-J. Overall, music that is empowering, emotionally compelling, or has a rhythm that you could pick out and trace in your mind as you're listening to it is the music that really gets to me since I like geometry so much. ​

4. How is it being a woman and pursuing a career in photography? 

I've slowly become more aware at the shortage of women that work behind the camera, and how that plays into the model/photographer dynamics - on Instagram, in the modeling industry, and in the Detroit area. I've worked with female models who have thanked me up and down for an incredibly positive experience, and it's shocking (but not surprising) to hear about some of the experiences people have had. As far as pursuing a career, having a role model is the first thing I would think of - I'm fortunate enough that fate pulled some strings and I met Alexandria Rykse and Erin McConnell. Alex and I started our relationship when she was about to graduate: I modeled for her a few times, then I got interested in photography and she let me practice on her. Then we'd arrange shoot days together, and things spiraled out of control from there as we would constantly send any cool photos or concepts that we saw to the other person. Thanks to Alex, I was able to direct models with ease when I started working behind the camera rather than in front of it. Erin is a powerful presence, a passionate creator, and a strong, compassionate woman. I probably wouldn't have had the confidence to have attempted some of the projects that I have if she hadn't inspired me, and I'm grateful beyond words. She's given me feedback and happily answered all my gear and editing related questions. Gabriella Csapo is an artist (model/painter/graphic artist/general creative) who has helped me figure out my directing skills and technical skills behind a camera, and most of the custom presets that I use on my photos have been developed on photo sets that she and I have created together since May 2018. When I went back to school, she and I kept in touch over photography-related things, and through our discussions she's pushed me to better develop my concepts, refine my style, and think creatively in just about any situation. Between Gabriella and Erin, I've been motivated to make an impact in my community and become an inspiration and role model for others.

5. How has the social climate change your themes in your photography or has influenced it? 

I'm still much more ignorant than I care to be about the happenings of the world - however, I have some strong beliefs regarding a couple policies of the current administration. One of my first big concepts that I did where I publicized the concept along with the photos was my series titled "Media is Sensationalism". The goal was to create a visual commentary on the tendency of media to report "exciting" news, leaving some events without the coverage and discussion that I feel they deserve. It was ultimately a call to people in positions of privilege to check their advantage and act on behalf of everyone who is disadvantaged due to our current social and political system. As we were shooting, I picked up a piece of newspaper that had fallen, and printed on it was this: "If you were to create a system from scratch today, I don't think you would create it the way it currently exists." That struck deep within me, and even now I can't explain the way that seeing that statement while we were shooting this set made me feel.

6. What are your thoughts on the changes in Detroit? Do you like the changes? Though I've been in the Detroit area my whole life, I haven't really been to Detroit much until this summer. I had no reason to go down and my parents were somewhat protective of me for a long time. I've heard that there has been a lot of renovation and some of the cooler old buildings have been sealed/remodeled/etc, but I can't speak for myself. I had a lot of fun exploring it this past summer and I'm excited to continue exploring downtown and the surrounding areas to see what the city holds!

7. What do you want people to know about your work?

 I want people to know that my work, like many other creators, comes from a place of passion. What I like to think sets my work apart is my vision - I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the concepts behind my shoots before I actually shoot, and while I edit, I mull on the photos, the concept, and how to make the edits complement the shots in the best way possible to truly convey the narrative that inspired the shoot to begin with. In the end, I like to have full-bodied concepts and use the space within the frame to its full potential. I take full responsibility for most everything in any of the photos I take, and I want that to come across to everyone who views my work. The other thing I'd like other people to know about my work, and ultimately, me, is that my best work always comes from developing genuine connections with the people in the frame. Check out her website: www.emcrombez.com

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