Introducing Emily Maye...
Describe your work in 3 words?
Quiet, Introspective, Cinematic
Where did your interest in photography and sports start?
I became interested in photography when I was about 15 and that was when I first started taking pictures. But my main passion was for films and I really loved cinema. I decided to pursue that and photography was always something I did casually. Then when I was about 21 I got my first digital camera. I would walk around NYC and take photos and whenever I was in other cities would use it as a way of exploring the city. I never had people in my shots. When I did finally make the leap to photographing people, I never went back. People are endlessly fascinating. I started out shooting ballet dancers. Then I was working on a screenplay I wanted to write about cycling and I decided to shoot some images for a moodboard for the script. That was the first time I had shot sports and it changed everything for me. After that I stopped writing and moved over to photography full time.
You often work in an environment that is out of your control, how do you ensure you achieve your shots?
I really love working like that because it feels like time is alive and there is activity going on that you have to grasp. I think the most important thing for me is having a bit of space to see. Engaging with the subject and building a little wall between you and the outside so that you can see the moments as they happen. You have to be prepared for anything.
How does this differ from the way you shoot athletes on a more personal level?
A lot of my work requires that the relationship I have to the subject allows some access or intimacy – you’re asking for them to let you in and show a side they don’t always show. When you’re on an advertising shoot you usually have a plan for what you are trying to achieve and you have to be open to happy accidents and moments where you could catch someone off guard in a beautiful way. On a lot of the more personal sports work I have done, I am immersed in the world of the athlete, following the teams from inside the bus and living with them while they’re training. That requires that you observe and develop a relationship with the person so that you can really see them and the candid moments of their lifestyle. For me, that’s where I truly shine I think, taking real moments and elevating them.
Favourite shoot to date and why?
Usain Bolt in Jamaica for Puma! It was such a great experience to shoot someone of his calibre in a subtle and documentary way. It was just us and I am really happy with the outcome of that shoot.
Talk us through your creative process..
I have always used Canon and still do to this day. I have tried out a bunch of other cameras and that is still my preference. Though I have a Leica that I also enjoy using in the right moments. It’s less intrusive and really works well in the more quiet moments. Some of the brands that I work for – like Rapha and Tracksmith – really allow for the setup to be realistic even though the work is for an advertising brand. The guys really ride or run full out for the day and the emotional moments are really honest. It’s great when you can get a creative process that has truth to it and I look for those opportunities wherever possible. I’ve done more studio work recently but I love to use natural light whenever possible. It’s always a challenge and a blessing to work with. It adds another element that you get to play with, moving around your subject and straight into the light. When I am not out in the elements, good music is essential to the creative process.
Whats next for you?
It’s been a really busy summer and I have a few shoots lined up for the brands that I shoot for a lot. I just wrapped up a fashion shoot for Hillflint that I am excited about. I am hoping to get started on a personal project for film that I’ve wanted to do for awhile in the next few weeks. Lots of good things on the way. I’ve got my eye on a long term project that I would love to take to print. It feels like the right time to get that off the ground. Sports related, of course.