Today we turn the camera around to capture the face of nationally and internationally renowned photographer Emily Followill. This native Atlantan has made her mark in the interior design world photographing for magazines like Veranda, Garden and Gun and Traditional Home, just to name a few. She’s incredibly talented and we’re thrilled she joins us today as our FACE of Atlanta!
When did you first pick up a camera and develop your passion for photography?
My passion started at an early age. We have a family photo that was taken when I was about 5 including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and I’m holding a Fisher Price camera in my hands. Mom said I wanted to take the picture even though there was a photographer hired to take it! On a more serious note, I started taking darkroom classes in high school and truly started my love then. Although I haven’t been in a darkroom in ages, that is where it all began.
Are you artistic in other ways?
As a Fine Art Major at Sewanee: The University of the South, I had to go to the 300 level of classes in 2 mediums. I chose drawing as the second one. I haven’t worked those talents lately and it shows! I’ve always been creative and don’t find as much time for it these days unless it’s a school project or a photo album!
You have gotten to photograph some amazing interiors for various design magazines. What is your favorite space or room you have ever photographed?
Honestly, it’s hard to say because they are all so diverse and each space captures me in a different way. I’ve been so fortunate to work with some incredible designers, architects, editors and homeowners. Each of their spaces creates a home in a different way. I will say that my favorite spaces are those where I feel the warmth and love of a “home” and not just a pretty house.
What are some of the challenges you face during an all day photo shoot?
The first thing people usually say when I arrive at their home is, “You sure do have a lot of equipment!” The second thing many say is, “Will you still be here at lunch time?” The answer to both of those is “Yes!” I usually have an assistant who helps me lug all my gear, move from room to room as we go through the house, and act as a second set of eyes. The biggest challenge is getting as many shots completed as the designers, editors or architects want in the time allotted. I work very quickly, but it can take longer than expected if we have to move a lot around or if the light isn’t right. Needless to say, I’m usually on my feet all day, except for a short break for lunch, so keeping my energy up is required!
Do you think there will always be a place for interior design magazines in print or do you think online magazines are the future?
I hear many answers on this subject, but I believe that people will always want to hold a magazine in their hands. I have a hard time reading the online magazines because I’m on a computer all day, and reading a magazine on a screen still feels like work, not relaxation. There have certainly been a lot of changes in the magazine industry, and there are fewer titles now than there were 10 years ago. However, I would like to think that people still want to take their magazines to the beach, lake, etc. and give their eyes a rest from the screens.
How do you balance your photography and raising your young family?
My family is truly amazing and we have a tight family unit. We support each other in all that we want to undertake. I have a great support network when needed, and my husband and I work around our schedules well to see that we get it all done. As my Dad would always say, “It will all work out!” So when I start to stress about getting it all done, I think about him.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would be your dream job?
That’s hard to say because I feel like I have my dream job!
Between growing up in Atlanta and now, what are some of the positive changes that you see in our city?
I have seen many changes up and down Peachtree Street and beyond. I appreciate Atlanta’s efforts to preserve the past while attracting and creating opportunities for new visions–architecture, the arts, entertainment, and education. Atlanta has become an international city with a small town feel. As a native, it’s fun to be anonymous and feel like I’m in a big city, but I also love running into my childhood friends in the grocery store. I feel it is so important to remember our past and save as much as we can. So many people want new, bigger, better, but if we forget those who came before us and built this city, we lose a part of who we are. I certainly want my children to be proud of their city and want to preserve the past.
What is your favorite way to begin your day?
With a run! It’s my exercise, mental clarity and quiet time. Hugs and kisses from my family before we start our busy days keeps me focused on the most important job at hand.
What are you most looking forward to this summer?
I’m looking forward to having more time with my family without the stress of schedules, bedtimes, and 6:15 wakeup….unless, of course, it’s for a run. My children are growing up so quickly, and I’m cherishing every moment that they want to be with my husband and me!
Are there any fun, local activities you have planned to do with your kids this summer?
We keep eyeing the Atlanta Botanical Garden Imaginary Worlds exhibit and hope to get there in the next week or two. A Braves game is always on the list, time by the pool, playing tennis, kayaking the Chattahoochee, and some community service projects.
What are some of your favorite local restaurants?
What is your favorite way to “turn off” and relax?
Honestly, it takes getting out of town to help me completely relax. Our family mountain house doesn’t have wifi (good and bad!), so that’s the perfect spot to escape. Being at a body of water also relaxes me–the pool, beach or lake. In town, I unwind by playing tennis and running. We enjoy being at home with each other at least one weekend night a week–grilling out, a movie and a good glass of wine!
What are three things that you cannot live without (besides God, family, and friends):
After the top three, God, family and friends, I would find it hard to live without my cameras, including my point and shoot and my iPhone. I’ve always got one with me to capture my family or a scene of life. Second, I would say I can’t live without access to a body of water. Third, I guess I’ll have to say my iPhone! I hate that we are all so connected and expected to reply immediately, but there is no other way I would be able to run a business, take care of my family, be a wife and keep up with my friends!
Thanks, Emily! To see more of Emily’s work, visit her website: emilyfollowill.com.
And thank you, Amy Lesesne, for the beautiful photographs!