Discover / Ones to Watch - 2020

The Empyreal Everyday: The Photography of Emily Light

By Emily Quli

Emily Light @emilyligh is an innovative and creative published photographer studying at uca. Her work injects the current art scene with a refreshing reminder of how authentic ethereal beauty can be.




Her regeneration of the impressions of beauty reinvented with an eclectic mix of colour, self-expression and the unapologetic nature of identity renders light as more than a photographer. She is a pioneer in the empowerment through the beauty she creates.




Light's dreamworld series is at what first seems to be a series of interpretations on evocative block colours. An experiment attracting the eye to the warmer hues of pinks, oranges, yellows and reds. Yet the subjects then emerge out of them. Both differentiating themselves with and identifying themselves to these colours. Each subject belonging to a different colour which represents themselves and yet all the hues work harmoniously together. Light thus insinuates that through individuality there is unity. The subjects are vital to this photograph. They are in a range of poses, from remaining as composed as sitting to exerting their confidence through kicking in the photograph. This exacerbates their identity through their own self  expression.


Yet, the sparkle on the definitive facial features on all of the subjects unites them through the impression of female beauty. Light binds the subjects together into the impression of female beauty by drawing attention to the same details amongst the subjects: the lips, eyes and eyebrows. Light thus raises interesting representations of female identity and self-expression: every female is beautiful in their own expressed way and there are factors that unite everyone together within it.



Dreamworld by Emily Light



A lot of Light's work has an ethereal tendency to it; shadowing the image with an almost divine potential. Her lazy summer series certainly feels like a honeymoon dream; with the sky appearing to look like it has been stolen out of a rococo painting, mimicking the soft pastels of the flowers in the front of the images.


The simplicity of these scenes is refreshing. Light invites the audience to gaze onto nature in its primitive form: humans, earth and beauty are all coinciding together harmoniously. The subjects very rarely meet the gaze of the observer, making them feel distant. Joining in with their unadulterated enjoyment thus doesn't seem tangible, it is instead an aspirated ideal which elates the beauty of the photo.


The photograph is washed with the genial warmth of sunlight but this is a summer without a time and without a place. Light has instead created an image that is evocative of a memory for every observer. The primitive beauty of the scene resonates specifically with each observer, provoking the imagination, memory and dreams that emily light so often does with her photography.




Lazy summer by Emily Light



Emily works a lot with exemplifying feminine beauty. This is epitomised in the beauty within her. There is a fairy tale quality to the photograph, perhaps because of the moral to the title framing the way the audience engages with it. This quality is poignant as in fairy tales the beauty of the female protagonists is derivative of expectations from without her rather than from within, like the title suggests.


Staging the photograph in a bath gives it this sense of primordial rebirth. It becomes a renaissance of female beauty, rejecting the exploitive expectations of the female body. Instead, Emily has exacerbated and glorified the female body with traditional symbols of beauty such as the roses surrounding the subject and the red, daring lipstick. The subject is thus rebirthed with the beauty that she has clearly defined herself, which consequently bleeds into the rest of the image.


The beauty within her, now becomes the beauty without. It extends out of the photograph, binding the observer as part of the agreement of this beauty through the assured eye contact she makes. Light consequently empowers the audience as well as the subject as they fall in love with the confidence the subject has in her own body.




Beauty within her by Emily Light



Emily's photography is progressive in determining new boundaries for the beautiful.

Whether it is working with the subjects, or something with a pre-existing imagined quality to it, Light always manages to make her audience feel like they are in a dreamland. This creative invention to her photography encourages the observer to engage with the beauty of the subject and consequently the beauty of themselves.