24 May 2018

Did you know that today marks 40 years since Marilyn Loden coined the expression “glass ceiling” when talking about barriers to women’s advancement in the workplace at the 1978 Women’s Exposition in New York?

At Heist, we like to talk about the things that often get overlooked. Like bad underwear, which tends to get forgotten about. And we didn’t want to let this particular day pass anyone by. So, to mark the occasion, we met with two women who are pushing boundaries in their respective fields.

Meet Emma Hoareau, the freelance photographer and beauty blogger on a mission to change perceptions of the female body through her self-portraiture. We got Emma’s take on progress, social media, and the selfie as an expressive art form when we caught up with her at her London flat for a photoshoot in The Nude.

"I’ve always set out to try to create images that evoke an emotional response. For me, it’s about keeping things raw and real and conveying a human emotion in each image."

The Interview

Emma, we love your style of photography, especially your self-portraits. Why photography?

I always loved photography from a young age and was obsessed with images. I studied History of Art as I’d always loved how art historians think and look at everything, and after a few years in journalism I turned my hand to photography.

I had just moved to Sydney on a bit of a whim and so I also decided to do a bit of a jump-start on my work. Putting my energy into photography felt right – it felt like a better, clearer way for me to express myself compared to using words. An image can say so much, and it can mean so many different things to different people, and that fascinates me. In fact, hearing about how my images make people feel is my greatest joy.

And your self-portraits aren't just selfies...

No - I’ve always set out to try to create images that evoke an emotional response, rather than just making you want to hit the ‘like’ button. For me, it’s about keeping things raw and real and conveying a human emotion in each image. Of course the images are posed, but it’s not the same type of pose-and-edit look of a selfie. It’s about human skin and scars and the beauty we can find within them rather than blurring them out.

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Emma wears The Nude. Photo credit: Hanah Young.

Do you ever feel any pressure for the photos you take of yourself to live up to the expectations of the beauty blogger community?

Definitely. I only shared my series of self-portraits last November, and was a bit anxious to do so as I didn’t know what the response would be, and from who. But it was amazing, friends, followers, and family all contacted me to say how the images had spoken to them and in what way. It started a conversation, and I think that’s the most important thing.

There's a lot of talk about social media being a great platform for starting conversations too - what do you think of that? Do you see social media as something that’s holding us back, as some people argue - or is it moving us forwards?

I think the idea of sharing thoughts – whether using words or images – is a beautiful one. However, as Susan Sontag said, ‘to photograph is to appropriate the thing being photographed,’ and I really don’t want to live in a world where Matcha latte art is deemed valuable to everyone. To me, the currency of a photograph has decreased because we’re saturated by images on a daily basis, and to take a photograph requires no thought or expense or pause. So from that point of view, I think it’s holding us back because our minds are being taught to focus on the wrong things in life.

But equally, capturing an image and sharing it with a world of people you would never meet, and hearing that it creates an emotional response or dialogue? That’s incredible. That’s moving forwards. If we can all speak to each other with more than words, we’re doing good.

How do you deal with challenges? When they arise, what keeps you going?

The knowledge that I will overcome it, just like I have many times before. But in the meantime, I turn to (in no particular order) a bath, Nutella and a good book.

Can you tell us about someone you admire who's really ahead of the game in their field today?

So many women inspire me on a daily basis. Anyone who is taking a step towards creating a more thoughtful, sustainable future wins in my book.

We're always talking about 'progress' at Heist. What does that word mean to you?

Having a goal and reaching it, no matter how big or small it is.

Thinking about the future - where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully with my own studio and a team around me.

Apart from that, is there a goal you’ve set yourself?

To create work which I’ll be proud of in 20 years’ time.

Top three tips for someone who has bought their first camera?

Have fun, play. Let your childlike curiosities run wild. Mistakes are great, make them.

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Emma wears The Nude.Photo credit: Hanah Young.

Tell us about Heist… How do you feel in Heist?

I feel the same – which is perfect. I don’t want to feel restricted in anything I wear, I want to ultimately feel like myself and be able to move.

If there was one item of underwear you could change, what would it be?

The bra. I can never find my happy place when it comes to underwires and support.

The Quickfire

When you’re on the move:

…what song keeps you motivated?Sister Sledge, Thinking of You

…are you an early riser?Yes.

…do you jump straight in, or create a plan first?Straight in - plans come later.

…what do you always have on you?Sunglasses.

…who do you Instant Message?Everyone. I always reply to any questions my followers have for me – we’re a community, after all.

…what does your diary look like?Scribbly.

…on Instagram, who do you scroll to?Photography inspiration from @frecklesnur @annstreetstudio and @wolfcubwolfcub

…what book do you take?Whichever one I’m reading at that time. Currently: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir

…who or what do you miss?My own bed.

Emma wears The Nude in hero image. Photo credit: Hanah Young