Born into the Courtauld family, best know for founding the Courtauld Institute of Art, Emma grew up surrounded by art, imagery and a sense of the family legacy. Following a time working for the Red Cross in Switzerland, which fueled her fascination with people and places, Emma turned her talents to professional portrait photography. Over a 14 year career Emma has photographed a wonderful array of people from politicians to world leaders, celebrities to the aristocracy, thoroughbred race horses to beloved pets.
In addition to traditional portraiture, she has been working with young children since 2003 and in the last few years has been working closely with horses, hounds and other animals alongside their owners, keepers and breeders. Her love of animals is a reflection of her early childhood in the countryside of South Devon and ignited her interest in the unique connection between people and their animals, which has become a focus of her work.
Emma shares the philosophy of iconic photographer Jane Bown, who so eloquently said “The best pictures are uninvited, they’re suddenly there in front of you, easy to see but difficult to catch”. Emma uses this approach in her work with animals and children. It’s Emma’s belief that it is counterproductive to interrupt and control the environment surrounding the subject, but rather it is better to become part of it as an impartial observer. It is Emma’s belief that the intrusion of lights and gadgets distracts, and detracts from, the subject. Therefore she much prefers to work with natural light in free and open conditions, ideal for working with young children and animals.
Although it is sometimes more challenging to shoot in natural light, Freeman feels that not only are the photographs are all the better for it aesthetically but also in the mood and character of the subject, who is evidently more relaxed and themselves (whether a person or a prize winning race horse!).
According to Freeman, it may take some time to get the right shots. While some images appear relatively quickly and others can take some time to appear, “when you hit the shutter, that millisecond you are utterly in love with that image”.
A recent personal project for Emma is entitled The Equine Life. “This is an idea I have had for many years… I will focus on the grittier side of the equine world. It’s not the moments of victory that interest or challenge me, it’s witnessing those who create and nurture the beast up until this moment. The groom’s never-tiring faith, the trainer’s self-belief and the hard graft up until this point”.
Emma works with CACHE on shoots where a special touch is required. For most it’s best to avoid working with children or animals, but for Emma it’s her specialty.
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