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First Friday Feature: Emil Ebdrup

When I first found Emil’s photography, I fell in love with his unique and contrasting visuals. They tell such beautiful stories in a way that is emotive and presented in a clear manner. With an amazing eye for color and story, his photographs have a way of drawing you in and keeping you fixed on them. Which is exactly why I had to share his story with you here on my blog.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well, I can tell you that my name is Emil and I’m 23 years old and live in a tiny city in Denmark, although I would still argue it’s big compared to Danish standards. I’m dyslexic so I have never been the best at schoolwork. Instead, I would draw in my books and notes.

I like to make stories. They don’t necessarily have to be for my photos, I also like to just write small stories for myself. Due to my dyslexia I have trouble reading and writing, but despite a lot of people seeing it as a weakness I see it more as a way to be distinct and an ability to look at things in different ways.

2. What go you started in photography?

To be honest I have always been creative. I would draw and paint a lot as a child but always got mad since it wasn’t quite the picture that I had wanted, but at the same time I was never able to stop, and I don’t think I ever will.

My photograph career started back in 2017 when I started working at a camera shop where my job was to take pictures they could hang up in the windows as advertisement. This meant I started looking at YouTube to learn more and I found a photographer from Canada that got me interested in landscape photography. A short while after I was accepted into a photography school. Here one of my assignments was on fine art. It was the first time I had ever heard of it, so I was very excited to get started on it, but I was close to failing the assignment. After that ordeal, I started looking for a way to get better and I found Brooke Shaden on Instagram and tried for fun to take pictures inspired by her work. I started editing it and discovered that I could make it look like I had imagined. 

3. Describe your workflow, what is unique about your process?

I usually try to have a basic idea of how it should look. My method is to write it all down and draw it as sketches and compare the poses. I write down all the colors I can fit into the purpose of the photo, and I write down all the props that I think would work. The next step is figuring out which dress to use. For themes, I have started using tarot cards. I usually draw 3-4 cards and figure out what they mean. After that, I would choose one from each category I wrote down in my notebook (color, prop, dress, and themes) and begin sketching how I would want the model to look. Sometimes it only takes four tries but other times it can take me twenty tries to get to the finished product. I will then write a checklist on all the small things to be remembered, and as a general rule, I won’t take the picture if I’m not happy with my sketch.

I usually write a small description of what it’s supposed to portray, and what the purpose of it is. When I’m out taking the photo, I try to take it on a hill so I can have the foreground darker and have a horizon line by the model. I will only use photoshop and bridge to edit. I will always start with collecting the pictures and put them together. I usually end up changing the color of the dress or the props’ if I’m not satisfied with it, and the light if I want something specific highlighted. A softening layer is something I use a lot in order to make the picture have an artistic feeling. Then I use textures over the photo, normally I only use 2-3.

4. What do you enjoy most about creating an image?

I will say that there are two things I couldn’t live without. The ability to tell a story and the ability to create something in a world that is heavily centered around job, education, and money. The two things were very hard to pick between but ultimately, I must say that I love being able to depict a story through a picture or through text.

5. What accomplishment in your photography do you feel the proudest of?

I think I have accomplished a lot of things that I never thought I would have been able to, both with being in exhibitions and on Instagram. Yet, I must say I am by far the proudest of the fact that I have been included in an art book with a lot of other great artists.

6. What camera equipment do you use?

I use Canon 5D Mark3. The lens is Samyang 85 mm f1.4 with manual focus. The reserve lens is Canon 50 mm. I also use a tripod Manfrotto.

7. Is there a certain theme you try to express in your work? Why do you feel a need to share that? What do you hope people will take away from your images?

I prefer working with a more fairy tale look on the world, and that is also what I try to depict in my photos. In a fairy tale you can be the hero, doesn’t matter what your life looks like. As a person with dyslexia I have been told a lot of times that I could never become what I wanted to, but in a fairy tale can I be the master of my own story. I hope that is something my audience can see when they see my stories or my pictures, that “you can be whoever you want to be”.

8. Where do you find inspiration?

There isn’t really an easy answer. I live rather close to old nature that was formed way back during the ice-age. It’s really beautiful and you feel as if you are in a book. I usually drive there to walk my dog just so I can go and daydream, and I can spend a lot of time walking around. I guess it also makes sense that it’s there that most of my inspiration stems from. Yet, my inspiration and drive are also very much due to my desire to create my own stories in photos.

9. Out of your images, which is your personal favorite and why?

I have actually only taken approximately 120 photos. Out of those the one I like the most is probably Wonder. I just really like the picture and I think it’s beautiful with a good story to accompany it. It’s also the only photo where I had already made the story before I even had an idea. Then I would say Moon is a close second. It was the first picture I took with a dark foreground and I really liked it. It was taken when Denmark had shut down due to Corona, the sun was out, no skies and so no shadows. So, I had to resort myself to taking pictures just before sunset. After these, I don’t really have any rankings but Hide, In the Sand, Season, Soul, Daydreams, and Let me Free are all photos that stand really close to my heart. 

10. What is the biggest piece of advice you have ever been given? What advice would you give your younger self, the you who has just started creating?

The best advice that I have ever heard was “Learn, Make, Repeat”, and I would tell myself the same thing.

To see more by Emil check out his Instagram and Website.

Until Next Time,
Lillian Merritt

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