Our December FOUND artist of the month is none other than multi-talented Fuzz photographer, Emily Quirk! Emily got her start shooting candids at shows in Nashville over a decade ago and has since been on the road touring with various bands doing what she loves. She's been featured in an ongoing list of stellar publications and continues to grow her catalog of iconic, must-see photographs. We are forever grateful for her contributions to Original Fuzz Magazine and the Fuzz shop and can't wait to see where her photography takes her.
For now, enjoy this interview where we ask Emily questions on her craft, favorite gear, getting the perfect shot, and what she's working on. Find Emily's work on the internet at emilyquirk.com and keep up with her daily photos on Instagram @equirk.
All photos by Emily Quirk.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hiii! My name’s Emily Quirk and I’m a photographer from (and currently based) in Nashville, Tennessee. I play a lot of cards, but photography is the best one in my deck.
When did you know that you wanted to be a photographer?
I’ve been actively shooting photos since I was eight years old when my family took a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t initially see it as a dream of mine, it was more of one that came to me! I was a freshman in highschool when I realized photography was a thing I really loved doing, people were reacting extremely positively to the work I was putting out and I believe was also when I scored my first paid gig.
How long have you been photographing shows? What got you started?
For essentially a decade now! The show that really got me rolling was a JEFF the Brotherhood show in a tiny, little warehouse in Nashville. They played on the floor and I shot the show on a disposable camera. A friend of mine was starting up a blog about the Nashville music scene and after seeing photos from that JTB show, he reached out to me to see if I would be a “staff” photographer for the blog. He saw potential in me as a highschool freshman. I obviously said yes!
What’s the best part of shooting shows? What’s your biggest challenge?
The best part of shooting shows is when the show itself is a unique experience and there is raw energy and emotion all over the place. My favorite shows to shoot are in houses, basements, warehouses, parking lots, skateparks—locations where live music maybe “shouldn’t” be happening, but is.
The current state of shooting any large-scale venue show or festival is a myriad of challenges. There are so many rules; like, you can only shoot the first three songs, or you can’t use flash, or you can only shoot from one area of the stage, or there are barricades, or there are no barricades and you have to squeeze your way through a crowd who are maybe annoyed that you’re there, or you have to have this-many credentials. There are SO many challenges, so when you do get good stuff, it feels really good. I guess the biggest challenge for me is proving (if even just to myself) that I’m allowed to be there.
Who are some bands that you've toured with? Which has been your favorite tour?
I’ve toured with White Reaper, Diarrhea Planet + JEFF the Brotherhood, Twin Peaks, Modern Vices, Daddy Issues, Tamarron, and Pudge! It’s hard to pick a favorite, because every tour is so unique with the experiences that come along with it. I think the tour with Tamarron was my favorite, and also my longest! They’re an incredible band from Austin, Texas, and they took me under their wing for two weeks. We got to see a lot of places I had never really seen before and revisit places I adore, and our accommodations were top notch—not so much in the sense of luxury, but in hospitality and memorable experiences. We worked our way from Nashville up through the Northeast, down the East Coast, chooglin’ through New Orleans, and kept our party rolling into Austin for a week of SXSW. I would relive every minute of that tour if given the chance.
Is there any particular genre of photography that you’re wanting to get more involved in or learn more about?
I’m trying to push myself into more portrait work, more intimate and thought-out ideas. I’ve been doing a lot of product photography lately (wink wink! originalfuzz.com) and I want to figure out how to make that work in the best, most interesting, and practical ways possible.
What’s been your proudest moment thus far in your photo career?
I think every chance I get to tour becomes my new proudest moment. I’ve been published in some very cool and prestigious publications, but the fact that bands have allowed me to jump in the van with them and see the country (hopefully soon the world?!) means more to me than almost anything. Traveling is my biggest inspiration and source of motivation.
Jenna // Daddy Issues
Who are some artists/ photographers that influence you? Anyone we should know about?
I’m gonna detail three specifically, as I had another interview recently where I rattled off a whole list of my favorite photographers—(which you oughta peep at Amadeus Magazine)! There’s a girl named Judith under the name @rustycuts on Instagram that makes these incredible, handmade stage outfits, essentially like nudie suits; think studded roses and snake patches winding up pant legs, and billiards 8-ball-printed slacks. I screenshot her every post and wish I could wear any of her pieces!
John Zabawa (@johnzabawa) is a visual artist who does minimalist paintings and design pieces that are my dream aesthetic, simple but bold shapes and colors, and each is a statement of its own. And lastly, Devin Blaskovich (@devblaskovich) is a photographer based in New York who shoots STUNNING 8x10 Polaroid portraits that make my eyeballs drool with the beauty and softness of detail in each frame because there was likely a one-time chance for each of these images to come to life.
Film or digital? Color or black & white?
Film and color! My eternal favorite duo to shoot. I’m almost embarrassed to say I’ve only shot a handful of rolls of B&W film in my life. For a long time it’s been such a pain to get developed. But it’s having a renaissance and I’m actually waiting on two rolls currently! On the other end of the spectrum, and some real B&W heads will hate me for this, I love turning digital images black & white.
If you had to pick, what's your favorite camera to use?
My Olympus OM-1. It’s not my most practical camera, as I don’t have a flash for it and only have a fixed lens, but it’s the most satisfying for me to use. The glass on that lens does wonders.
Are you experimenting with any new techniques? Color palettes? Lighting?
All of these, yes! I’ve been really into point-and-shoot cameras lately, I think I’ve acquired three in the past six months. I’m trying to see new perspectives of the things and people that surround and fill my daily life, rather than only these big, extravagant experiences.
Do you know when you’ve gotten The Shot, or is it always a surprise?
It’s a little easier to tell if it’s The Shot when shooting digital, mainly because you can see it instantly. Film is always full of surprises, but always feels more special when you do get The Shot. I have a habit when I shoot digital to not really look at what I’ve shot until I’m in my editing process, I guess to kind of replicate that exciting experience of film like, “Okay, what did I catch!”
Where do you go to escape?
My apartment. I’ve been living alone for about a year and a half now, so I’ve made this space completely my haven. One of my best girlfriends recently came over, and she was like, “Oh, you have people coming to visit this weekend, is that why you have so many little beds set up?” And I was like “Well, not quite, I just have four different spots where I like to take naps.”
What bands are you listening to right now?
Currently as I’m writing, JEFF the Brotherhood—fitting to my life! I’ve been religiously listening to Bleached, the new Paramore album, and Best Coast the past two weeks. Also on repeat lately is Post Malone, Post Animal, NE-HI, Halfnoise, Dua Lipa, No Parents, and a lot of New Orleans jazz. I’m all over the place!
Where can we find more of your work?
A whole new year, so hopefully a lot! I’ve been brainstorming about zines, so keep your eyes peeled! I have a few concept series I want to start diving into. And hopefully some tours coming soon, 2018 is pretty open so hit my line and let’s start booking something! ;)
FOUND is a monthly series by Original Fuzz. We aim to discover visual artists from every corner of the world, no matter the background or creative vision. We believe it's not just what you do, but how you do it. Art is important.
FOUND is brought to you by Liz Earle, a writer who likes art. If you'd like to be a featured artist, let us know. You can send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FOUND interview series is by Original Fuzz Magazine. Find more articles in this month's issue, here.