Influencer Spotlight: Emily Rowe // Social Sensei

Emily Rowe is an influencer and photographer but most importantly she is an entrepreneur who took her skills and launched her own creative agency Social Sensei.

How did you get started in photography ?

I grew up in a turbulent household and used photography as a way to escape an abusive step parent. Photography acted as the perfect excuse to spend hours outside in my neighborhood, stay in my room and read library books about other photographers (crazy to think I’m one of the last generations to do that!), and invest myself into just practicing the basics! I shot on fully automatic with a Canon Rebel T3 before I started to play with partial manual modes and then eventually full manual. One of my dad’s friends gifted me his old film camera and I fell in love. I learned how to use every inch of that camera and developed my own photos in a dark room. Now, 11 years later, I shoot full frame and edit using the full Adobe suite.

How do you take your subject from the front of the camera and onto the perfect photo you intended?

I rarely plan. I try to get on the same page as the model as far as inspiration: do we like dark or light photos, warm or cool colors, free-spirited or editorial – the works. Once we get on the same page, I am a firm believer in letting nature take its course. Over-planning is the enemy of natural genius and flow – it also fuels disappointment and stifles originality. In the earlier days of my photography, I remember finding a single image I LOVED and trying really hard to get the exact same shot. Now I realize, after many trials and disappointments, that duplicating someone else’s work only makes it that much more difficult to appreciate your own.

Out of every photo you’ve taken, which one is your favorite? Why?

This is impossible to answer because I don’t have a favorite! Instead, I’m going to answer what theme I like to shoot best and why. I love capturing people in a way that is sexy and beautiful without being sexualized. I know that may sound like hair-splitting jargon but here is how I view my subjects. Women and men alike have beautiful figures, the human body makes shapes and conveys emotion like very few other things in this world. I’ve been really challenging myself, especially lately, to find the beauty in our figures and capture them as they are – not how society wishes them to look. I love imperfections, I love traits that make us different. In short, I shoot to find the real beauty and sexuality of my subjects in an authentic and uninhibited way.

What is it that you want to say with your photographs, and how do you get your photographs to do that?

I want photography and images, in general, to be meaningful again! A lot of the devaluing of photography comes in part from the improving quality of cell phone cameras and in part to social media. I love social media and think that it is an amazing tool for connection and business. I believe in it so much so I run a creative agency specializing in social media but the pressure to find something to shoot and post everyday changes the essence of photography. Photography is a chore for a lot of businesses and individuals and they shoot to get what they know gains followers. Cute tan line pictures, sandy butt cheeks, over-saturated architecture, hair flips, all of it – repeated and exhausted.  I miss the days when photographers made big money shooting things in a way no one else knew how. I’ll never experience the romantic, dreamy feeling of getting the cover feature of Vogue in 1960.

Ultimately, I want to create images with beautiful people (inside and out) and be able to look back and remember a day, hour, minute, when the wind blew through a photo. Remember the black sand beaches in Nicaragua. Remember the clearest water I’ve ever seen in Florida. Remember the pain of a breakup. Remember how it felt to smile. Remember a joke that made him laugh that way. Remember life. All trapped in the permanence of a photo.

Would you do the same work if you weren’t being paid?

Absolutely. I still do collaborations to this day and honestly love them. Work is great because it pays the bills but I love the creative work that goes into collaborations and I know I will practice photography until the day I kick the bucket.

Follow Emily on Instagram @emilycarolynrowe to check out her projects