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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2019 6 months ago

Exhibition of beauty: Ormond Beach photographer strives to build people up

Emily Anderson has always loved working with people. Now, she gets to help them capture memories.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Photographer Emily Anderson shoots for two things in her job: beauty, and a way to help others find self-confidence. 

The Ormond Beach resident has always been good at meeting new people. She enjoys it, and even though some people can be guarded — especially when in the presence of a camera — Anderson said drawing them out of their shells can show them self-value. Years later, some of her former clients have returned to her to thank her for showing them that they were beautiful and worthy of attention. 

It's why photography is both her method of artistic expression and a way to build people up.

“I just feel like everyone deserves to have photos taken of them like they’re in an editorial," Anderson said.

Anderson, 34, moved to Ormond 6 years ago from California. She had always been interested in photography, even as a kid. She traveled a lot starting in junior high, oftentimes without her parents and wondered about ways to bring her travels back to her family when she was homesick. Photography was the answer, though it would remain a hobby at first.

"Blooms in St. Augustine" by Emily Anderson

She studied music composition in college before she realized part of her skillset was that she was really good with people.

“It was better outside of a practice room than sitting there for eight hours," Anderson said.

She then began photographing horses and their riders in Los Angeles, and the more shoots she did, the more she realized she was drawn to the relationships between the horses and the riders. It wasn't about making the photos look "cool," but showcasing the connection. 

Fast-forward a few years, and Anderson has made people her favorite photography subject. She shoots a lot of weddings.

Each shoot is different. Anderson said you never know the stories people carry with them. In one wedding, the bride and her mother cried over a locket. It contained the photo of the bride's father who died a month before.

"Undone Beauty," by Emily Anderson

In another instance, Anderson took pictures of a girl, and after she sent the photos, the girl emailed her to tell her this had been a huge step for her. The girl had been struggling with body image after a pole vaulting accident that broke every bone in her face.

“I had no idea, and no one else knew either," Anderson said. "But to her, when she looked in the mirror, she just saw what was broken, and so being able to show her your broken pieces are beautiful, that was really special too.”

Anderson's photos carry a dream-like quality, as she specializes in film, sometimes layering two photos together. Sharp photos are great, she said, but she wants to create memories for people. Sometimes, Anderson said memories are fuzzy.

"Naya at Sunrise" by Emily Anderson

During her shoots, she tries to make people feel comfortable. She'll direct them, but she wants them to live in the moment.

And to loosen them up, she tells a lot of dad jokes.

“I try to make it beyond just what they want to post on Instagram that day, but something that in 10 years still feels like them," Anderson said.

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