about

Emily at work1 - small

Hello, my name is Emily Hughes. I live in the UK with my husband, Alex, and two children. I have a degree in English and German from Warwick university, and an MA in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths college, part of the University of London. I am currently training to be an English teacher (sometimes teaching, always learning), and when I’m not working I try to spend as much time as I can writing, photographing, being a mum as well as trying to just be me, as well.

Ever since I was a child I have been very aware of photography, and the ubiquity of the still image – which in those days was still very much a physical thing – was especially resonant in our household. Photography was part of my everyday experience of family life. My dad, a super-keen amateur photographer, would spend hours in his makeshift darkroom under the stairs. He would painstakingly label, order and organise negatives, transparencies and prints, filling countless albums with the most preciously selected memories and our walls with framed captures of his proudest darkroom efforts. We were regularly subjected to family slide shows when huge heavy folders were dusted off and those little transparent plastic-framed squares of exquisite jewel-like colour became magically transformed into shadowy film stills on the nearest blank wall via an innocuous looking black box (we never had a video camera – images from my childhood were always static). There were arty shots and snapshots; black and white and colour; landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, wildlife… all of them lived amongst us, and took their place in our family history as historical documents themselves. It was almost as if these photographs took on a life of their own. They were us, but quite apart from us. It was like growing up living with ghosts of our former selves around us, like having our secret memories inscribed, laid bare for all to see.

My siblings and I would be forced to pose for regular portrait sessions as dad practiced capturing our disinterested expressions with trying enthusiasm (I never was, and still am not a particularly rewarding subject – but now at least I know which side of the camera I would rather be on). On family holidays he would lag ten paces behind everyone else, always there with his camera, always ready to capture the moment; my mother’s smile which would briefly light up her weary face, rare instants of complicity between my sister and I (a hug, a smile, a giggle); skipping in the sand, playing in the waves… scenes of an idyllic childhood. Whilst this is true in many ways when I look at the pictures I always remember the moments in-between which were never captured and which are also part of every family story, just as much, it seems as those magical ones: the tears, the tantrums, the scowls, the boredom, the arguments… which got edited out.

Now that I am all grown up and have a family of my own I often think about my dad and his camera and sometimes find myself doing as he did back then. It is easy to become consumed by a kind of fervour for capturing images, and I wonder if for him it was as much about escaping from the chaos of everyday family life as it was about recording it. I know for me it certainly is. I carry a camera with me often, and when I am off taking pictures I feel so liberated and so focussed at the same time,  that I often find it hard to be ‘present’ in my other roles: mum, sister, daughter, wife, friend… but there are times when I feel like I need to record, and there are times also when I realise that I need to put down the camera and just be, enjoy, experience, think. But I understand and share the collective need we have as humans to use photography as a tool of memory, to seize and hold forever those moments of magic because they are so fleeting and because if we didn’t then we might forget that they existed at all.

© Emily Hughes, 2012

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58 Comments on “about

  1. Hi Emily Hughes, I have just met your blog in one of my blogger friends, dear N Filbert!
    http://ekphrastixarts.com/
    Congratulations for this award. I am so glad to meet you. Your photography hit me. Just I have visited a few pages… But you are amazing. The light, shadows, colours, and compositions are amazing. Thank you, with my love, nia

    • Hi Nia – thanks for your lovely comments I’m glad you enjoy my pictures. It’s so great to “meet” so many inspiring people on here. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog too…. Emily

  2. I just stumbled on your blog and wanted to say how absolutely stunning your photography and your insights were! I’m looking forward to perusing your pages more 🙂 Have a lovely day!

  3. I just stumbled on your blog and I wanted to say how absolutely stunning your photography and insights are! Looking forward to perusing more 🙂 Have a lovely day!

  4. Hi Emily – couldn’t find a contact email here so just leaving a msg. I’ve been making some more collages and needed a great photo of book spines – I LOVE your ones behind bars – I wondered would you mind my incorporating it into the collage (with full credit to you of course!) No worries if not, but let me know – if you want to email me about it my email’s on my contact page! Also, thanks for the award – have mentioned you back as I really love reading your blog! 🙂

  5. well-written! oftentimes, i’m caught between capturing and experiencing…(smile). but, sometimes i see better through my lens! thank you for your visits, y

  6. I found this self-portrait very interesting and genuine. Enjoyed some of your photographs too. And surprisingly enough, have found that a few of my friends discovered you before me… Looking forward to getting to know you better.

  7. Can identify with what you have posted here, to enjoy or to record, the photographer’s eternal dilemma. 🙂 don’t have the answer, just keep moving forwards eh? Some splendid, inspirational “stuff” here, I love it!

  8. This is a very eloquent introduction, and I thank you for that. Camera art is so much more than the finished image. I like your mindfulness of the whole experience.

  9. Hi Emily. I absolutely love your blog and your photos. They are an inspiration. I am starting a new section in my blog – “friendly” blogs, where I’d highlight some of the amazing blogs I found and share a link to them. Would it be fine if I include you?
    Thanks.
    Lesya.

    • Hi Lesya! Thanks for your lovely comment I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. It’s fine for you to include me on your blog – I would be honoured! 🙂

    • Hey Carla – happy new year to you! The photograph is safe here with me at home at the moment. I’m hoping to post on The Journey next week, so watch out for a post, and then I’ll send it on again. I have actually been really busy on other projects, and then of course with Christmas, so I had to give the blogging a bit of a break, but I can’t wait to get back into it I’ve really missed it. I hope you are well! Emilyx

  10. Being true to who you are and not following the crowd is very tricky path to follow. So many distractions out there. I admire your point of view.

    • Oh I follow the crowd too! I wish I was more true to myself, but I do what time and my chosen lifestyle allows. At least I can write, and take pictures, and I have this space to explore my ideas. It’s not much, but it keeps me going. Thanks so much for coming by.

    • Hello Cynthia! It’s nice to ‘meet’ you. How generous of Caitlin to share some of our work! Off to check out the post now…

  11. I am passionate about photography. I have photographed with Bronica 6×6 and I love the black and white photo…
    Congratulations for your blog and your photos!
    best regards from Italy

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