Emily Abay is an Australian fashion and editorial photographer known for her clean, feminine images.
Moving between Sydney and Melbourne shooting for clients such as Marie Claire, Oyster, Vogue Australia and Zu Shoes Emily is inspirational to all young aspiring fashion photographers.
Finish these sentences:
Life is awesome when… you realize that there’s no one on earth who can make you more happy than you can make yourself
I would like to die…having made a little difference.
I likesleep because I don’t get much of it.
When the shit hits the fan… I buy a huge block of chocolate because that is literally the solution to every problem.
I am inspired by… many things, but I mostly get inspired when I work with a really amazing team, and we just bounce off each other and get so excited that we can hardly contain it and the thought of having to wait to get our idea out is torture. My colleagues really inspire me a lot, because without them, I’m just a girl with a camera and no content to light. They are my backbone.
Creativity is… subjective. My idea of creativity is not the same as the next person, so it’s wonderful to see how people open their minds and share ideas.
Instinct or logic?
Both. First and foremost I am a photographer but I am also a business woman so I would be a fool to just go on instinct all the time. To be a successful photographer doesn’t mean getting 1000 likes on facebook, it means getting paid to shoot, so combine your passion with logic and that defines success to me.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never stop testing. I’m still a growing photographer and I will always keep on growing, but there will never be a day when I think I’m at the point in my life where I don’t have to do test shoots. Testing is actually why I work, so I can save money to it spend on my shoots! You get to be creative, there is no client and you just get to experiment, have fun with playing with light and just remind yourself why you do what you do.
If you were a celebrity who would you be and why?
100% Kate Moss! What an extraordinary life she has had. I just find her so fascinating, she’s the type of person that gives you more than one reason to look at her. You look once and then you have to look again and again and again, she’s very beautiful but she tells the story with her eyes.
Chocolate Paddle pops, I literally will eat a box full in one go!
Great Expectations. I love the music, the lighting, the cinematography and the colours. I saw it when I was really young and I thought there was something so beautiful and natural about Gwynth, she really started my obsession with models.
What was your impression of the world when you were growing up?
It was always sunny. I don’t remember any dark times at all.
Has the way you view the world changed?
As an adult, I really understand now how hard my parents worked to give me the life I had. As an adult you go through a lot more dark times, it’s not always sunny and fun. But you learn to deal with your obstacles on your own and you learn to grow up very quickly, because you have to.
Who is the photographer that has influenced your work the most?
Oooh that is a tough question. I have a lot of favourite photographers. One who really inspires me is Chris Colls. His lighting is gorgeous and I love the way he makes the women just look so beautiful. You can see they really feel like a goddess infront of his lens, he has this way of capturing them that I find so inspiring.
How long have you been a photographer?
This is officially the beginning of my ninth year. Scary! I used to be the young upstart but I’m 28 now so excellence is expected!
How do you stay motivated?
It’s not hard to stay motivated when you love what you do.
What is the hardest thing about being a photographer?
Probably not concerning yourself with what other people think about you. It’s hard not to listen to criticism and take offence, so you just have to remind yourself that people’s opinions don’t define who you are, and they only talk about you because you’re worth being talked about.
How do you overcome this?
Yoga actually! I often get stressed out about what people think, and yoga has really taught me to get rid of my ego and not worry about what everyone thinks. Just focus all your energy on being the best you can be and do with a smile.
How would you describe your work?
Clean. I’m someone who likes to see detail and I like the girls to look feminine and healthy.
Do you think photographers should have a specific style?
I think it is important to develop your own style only because people will book you for that style. But it’s also important to know how to adapt, so if a client asks you to do something specific, you should know how to do it, and if not, you teach yourself. This industry is small, and we all have to pay our bills. So your style will get you hired, but it might not get you paid, so learn to adapt and be confident.
What advice would you offer emerging photographers who want to get into the fashion/editorial industry?
Be patient and don’t sell yourself short! If you undercut yourself, you undercut the entire industry, so don’t settle for a cheap job just because you want the client. If that client really wants to hire you, they will pay whatever they need to pay, if not, then it wasn’t your skill they were after. Also make sure you get someone to give you feedback on your work, so get a mentor. You will never learn anything or grow if you don’t know what you could be doing differently.
What is your strength and what is your weakness in business?
My strength and my weakness is the same thing.. I’m kind and easy going. I feel that clients like to work with me because I’m not a stressful person and I get the job done, but often that becomes my weakness because I put too many eggs in one basket and I like to please everyone, so one thing that I’ve had to learn in the last year is when to say NO! it’s actually one of the hardest things to say.
When are you happiest?
I’m happiest when I’m on holidays with my boyfriend, James.
How do you find peace?
Turning my iphone off and just being present.
Where would you like to live most in the world?
I haven’t experienced all that the world has to offer just yet, but so far New York would be my dream.
If the world was to end tomorrow what would you do?
Say thank you to my family.
Passion is… perseverance.