Our remarkably talented friend, Emily Scarlett Romain is finally (!) celebrating her first solo exhibition, stay free. Presenting a selection of images from her diary series, captured solely on 35mm from 2010 to 2017, Emily shares the beauty, spirit and adventure of her world, both at home, and away.
‘stay free’ presents a selection of photographs from your diary series, spanning over a timeline of seven years – why did you feel that now was the time for your first solo exhibition?
firstly, i made a new years resolution that 2017 would be the year i finally did it. i’ve only shown my work once in a group show since graduating, and i knew that after 7 years of shooting my diary work that it was time to get it out there (beyond the realms of the internet!). secondly, because the exhibition date marks a year to the day that i left to go travelling, and it seemed like a good day to be concentrating on something else so that i didn’t get super depressed.
Throughout your global journey, is there one specific place in which you felt most inspired to shoot?
california, forever california. i’ve been lucky enough to go a few times, and every time i go i’m obsessive about the golden light and blue skies. there’s so many different landscapes there too, from cities to coastline to desert to mountains to lakes and it’s all so beautiful. i can go through 10 rolls of film a day there, just exploring. there’s something really magical about that state.
Where else do you hope to travel to and document?
the second new years resolution i made was to go to india, but seeing as time in 2017 has nearly run out i think that one is going to have to rollover to next year (one out of two isn’t too bad though right?!) i’ve heard so many mixed opinions about india, warnings of the intensity of the cities, the heat and the questionable safety but then also about the amazing culture, insanely good light and the many chances to explore off the beaten track. so india, i really hope i keep to that in 2018.
What drives you to continue taking photographs?
i love being able to present moments back to people the way i see them. photography gives me the opportunity to present the world as i see it in a way that would be so complicated to explain. i also have a terrible memory, and photographs have become my way to cement moments, people and feelings in that. i continue to take them to get better at doing all these things too, i still shoot mainly on my pentax k1000 but i still find new ways to use it to create something different.
Natural light has continually played a key role within your photography – could you explain why this is important to you?
there’s nothing like it, i like that i can’t control it and that it can completely change the mood or feel of a moment. it’s not contrived, you’re not able to set it up for a specific look or pre plan to shoot something in a certain way – of course there are ways to manipulate it but essentially you just gotta go with it. i’m always more inspired when the sun is shining, and people / places totally photograph better then too.
Your photographic style frequently displays spontaneity and independence, truly allowing an authentic sense of freedom to shine through – would you say that this reflects your own personal outlook?
absolutely! any chance i get i’m off on adventures, and when the opportunity arises i thoroughly encourage everyone i know to do the same. i know i’ve been really fortunate to travel, but i think having a sense of freedom can be applied in every day life too, you don’t have to leave to be free.
You’ve spent a lot of time in New York working with renowned photographer Ryan McGinley; what was the most valuable lesson you learned during that experience?
to stay free! every time i completed a stint working for ryan he would gift me one of his books, and they would have beautiful hand written messages inside them. in one of the books he had written “STAY FREE!!!” and it just stuck. every time i felt like i was doing the wrong thing giving up a stable job and veering off the expected route of my transition into adult hood i’d remember the message in the book and just go. and every time i’ve just gone, i’ve never regretted it. and reflecting now, i think staying free has made me into the adult i was always meant to be. and i suppose that’s what i’ve got ryan to thank for (amongst loads of other things!)
What advice would you give to young, aspiring photographers?
keep shooting, then keep shooting until you find your style, and then keep shooting some more. also don’t get obsessed in thinking everyone else is doing better, or having more success more quickly than you. if you want it enough, and keep at it, your time will come. and remember that no one else can take photos of the way you see the world like you can.
From your extensive collection, do you have any personal favourites?
ahh so many. it’s the ones that trigger the happiest memories. driving down the coast of california with you three, stopping to piss at the side of the road but then running into it – knowing we’d be able to see any car coming miles before they got to us….. one of my closest friends freya in the sea at biarritz – determined to swim even though it was totally too cold….. my nyc babe julianna napping on her sofa on a hot september afternoon – tattoos so openly displayed but face covered…i could go on, but the rest will be up at the show and i’ll happily tell anyone why i chose and love them!
Finally, in your own words, could you tell us a little about the exhibition?
stay free is an exhibition that celebrates youth, a continuing youthful attitude and an appreciation of adventure at home and away.
stay free is open for one night only on Tuesday 10th October 2017 at Doomed Gallery in London from 6-9pm. Selected prints will be available for purchase on the night. For more images please see www.emilyscarlettromain.com.