We spoke to photojournalist Emily Garthwaite about her work as an artist and activist telling untold stories
The London-based 25-year old documentary photographer travels around the world as an artist, and as an activist, to expose untold stories.
Garthwaite started taking pictures at the age of 15, and ten years later: her work has been published in world-famous publications and awarded by prestigious organisations. In 2015, her picture of an Asian Elephant was selected as a finalist for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and in 2018 her image of a jailed sun bear was also a finalist in the photojournalism category.
Considering our nature as a European news-channel, here at the European Lens initiative, we focus on showcasing the work of European talent. Normally, we request our fellow photojournalists to share photos they have taken throughout the continent. However this time, Emily insisted on featuring a broader selection, as her work focuses on underrepresented voices. We have decided to grant her that request, as we believe it reflects her mission to break barriers and bring people together.
The pictures in this story have been taken in Europe, India, and the Middle East.
We’ve had the pleasure to talk to her:
How did your photographic journey start?
I’ve come to realise that the spark of interest in photography started at fifteen. My family is from Surrey in the UK. There was a three-mile forest fire where I live, and I borrowed my mother’s camera to document it, sent it to my local newspaper and saw my first photo published. I wanted people to know it had happened and that it was important.
What are your travel essentials and what camera do you use?
The little luxuries such as my essential oil blends, eye mask, earplugs and lastly, and most importantly, teabags.
I use a Leica M240.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
The best stories are the ones closest to you. I’ve started focusing on London stories since January of this year.
How would you describe your style of photography?
Photojournalist specialising in humanitarian and environmental issues.
What is your favourite place or thing to photograph? Why?
Creatively and personally, I would always choose a human or animal to photograph over a landscape. Both have their challenges but I find interacting with a subject and engaging intimately with them is the most rewarding part of the job. We have so much to learn from each other.
Favourite European location and why?
Currently, London. Only in the last year have I started to explore my home city independently. A couple of months ago I was invited to a Sri Lankan Hindu ceremony in North London where I stayed for most of the day sampling local dishes and witnessing the public processions and private ceremonies. Immediately after that, I walked towards Hampstead, where elderly English couples with their straw hats were drinking tea and eating scones. These contrasts are what makes this city so unique.
What is the most memorable photo you’ve ever taken?
I can remember almost every photograph I have taken, but the ones that are most important are of my family.
Whose work has influenced you most?
Classical portrait painters and their ability to create light. I’ve always loved Norman Parkinson - his use of colour is extraordinary, particularly his editorials from India