[Photography] Interview with Em Harriet

by A.M. Larks

Slideshow, click on image to enlarge


[KELP JOURNAL] Can you talk about why you chose photography? What does this form provide that other media does not?


[EM HARRIETT] Photography allows a direct documentation of the world as you see it, and it enables you to preserve what strikes you about the world we live in at that moment—what’s meaningful to you. If you like the way a flower looks, take a picture of it! If seeing the sun over the water makes you happy, take a picture! Photography lets you preserve a moment in time right then and there rather than rely on memory.


[KJ] What do you look for when framing a shot? What draws you to the pictures you take?


[EH] I like to look for color, pattern and line, value, and texture when I’m taking photos. A lot of the time, it comes down to composition and a gut instinct—seeing something that makes me go, “I want to remember how this looks right now.” I have a geology degree from Mount Holyoke College and always have a soft spot for rocks and mountains, though I also love the texture from plants and water movement.


[KJ] Should photographers be cognizant of the narrative they create of a place or time when exhibiting photos?


[EH] I think it’s useful to keep in mind, especially if you’re presenting a series from a specific time period or location. If it’s not a photo essay (where you’d have a narrative in mind), thinking about what order (or lack of order) you want to present can help you make more informed decisions about your exhibit. For example, the photos I have here are all from travels I’ve been on across the country, and I tried to group them thematically according to subject or location.


[KJ] How has the digital age affected photography?


[EH] It’s made it a lot more accessible—I don’t think I would’ve gotten into photography as a medium if I didn’t have a camera built into my smartphone. There used to be a lot more hurdles and investment involved with the art form (cameras, equipment, etc.), but I think it’s great that more people can find joy in photography because of its digital accessibility.


[KJ] Are there any photographers that have influenced your work?


[EH] More so than photographers, I find influence from the color-rich landscape art that Louie Zong and @zandraart create. They’re both huge inspirations on my own illustration work.



Em Harriett (she/they) is a queer agender author, illustrator, and photographer from New England. They are inspired by nature and enjoy writing speculative YA fiction when not knitting. Her photography has also appeared in Reservoir Road Literary Review, Portrait of New England, F-Stop Magazine, and Wild Roof Journal. You can find Em on twitter @em_harriett or at emharriett.com.