22 Sep September influencer of the month @sally_emily
Listen to Sally and Emily’s Spotify playlist, curated for Vamp:
Introducing Sally and Emily (@sally_emily). These Sydney sisters share how to make (or break) a portrait shoot, how they shot a video together without actually being together and how journaling can help boost your creativity.
Congratulations Sally and Emily! We’re so excited to name you influencers of the month. As a creative duo, how did you begin your journey and how have you got to where you are today?
Sally: Thank you! It’s so humbling to be appreciated for our creative work. Looking back, it has definitely been a long journey. Our first major break was 10 years ago!
Emily: When we were gifted an entry-level Canon 400D for Christmas one year, we started shooting everything we could. From friends to travel and food. We did internships with senior photographers in Indonesia, pitched to every magazine we could and networked with as many people in the industry. When we were still in school, we got offered to produce monthly fashion editorials for Garuda Indonesia. From there, jobs and projects started coming organically. We’ve moved cities and countries in the past 10 years, so it feels like our journey is beginning again. This keeps us hungry, motivated and grounded.
Being creative directors, photographers and videographers sounds like you have a non-stop, busy schedule. How do you like to stay organised?
Sally: We both have full-time jobs as well! Finding the balance can definitely be tricky at times. This usually means weekend shoots, but we absolutely love what we do, so it rarely feels like work. Each project feels more special.
Emily: I think it’s important to be selective with your briefs, and think before saying ‘yes’ to a project. Only accept work that you feel you deeply align with. You’ll have more time to invest in creating work that you actually care for and enjoy. Quality over quantity.
I see you shoot a lot of beautiful portraits. In your opinion, what three elements are most important to consider when shooting portrait photography?
Emily: Your subject (or model) has to feel comfortable. Try to create a good mood on set and communicate with your model. Give them positive feedback on their poses. This really helps to build that connection. I also always try to not talk behind the camera when shooting. By putting the camera down for a few seconds, it removes the boundaries when communicating with the model and your team. It’s just something small, but it’s a game-changer when trying to build that connection.
Sally: Definitely. Portraits can feel very personal, so connecting with your subject should be your number one priority. Good lighting and good music always helps too (Use our Spotify playlist here).
Sally: This was shot during Sydney’s lockdown. So the trickiest part to navigate was creating this while being in separate households. However, we were quite stubborn to not let this restriction stop our creative vision. Thankfully we have always been artistically in sync, so it comes quite naturally to create a cohesive body of work – even when shooting separately.
Emily: With so many limitations, how do we tell a story together without actually being together? This challenge really pushed our boundaries. We started off by creating a script and rough storyboard of what we could possibly film separately. Once we’re on the same page, our creativity just flows from there.
What advice would you give to other content creators who are wanting to get out of their photography comfort zone?
Sally: Just start creating. Even if you don’t have it all figured out yet. Don’t think about the results or what people will say or think about your work.
Emily: Don’t overthink it because things don’t have to be perfect. Also try to find inspiration outside of social media and the internet.
What three elements or props do you favour when shooting?
Both: We love using the sky, flowers and mirrors.
Emily: We stumbled upon this quote, ”A sister is both your mirror and your opposite.” As sisters and a creative duo, we relate to this so much and find that a mirror also reflects a sacred symbol of duality. Both of us are different but we compliment each other. In our work, we often explore the theme around femininity and identity, which we can relate to the representation of flowers and the sky.
Sally: Fun fact, our nickname for each other is actually ‘mirror’ and we have a matching tattoo of it. Growing up in a busy city, we find ourselves gravitating towards nature. I guess that’s also another reason why we love shooting outdoors with natural elements.
We love that you play around with lighting and composition. What are your current favorites and why do you like them?
Both: We love experimenting with mixed media, such as light leaks and different textures of papers, plastic and paints. We also love to play around with negative space.
Sally: We love to push ourselves to create something that reminds us of a fantasy. Mixed media allows us to play around with reality and create that sense of magic that we want our viewers to feel too.
Emily: We also want viewers to be able to relate to and define our artwork themselves. When using negative space, we’re not trying to overwhelm the viewers by showing too much. Instead we give them space. We want them to interpret each work and make it feel personal.
What tips and tricks do you have to ensure you give yourselves enough downtime during the week to relax and recharge your creativity?
Sally: Journaling is one of my non-negotiables. No matter how busy life gets, I need to squeeze in at least five minutes in the morning. This has helped me massively with both my creativity and my mental health.
Emily: I can be quite a workaholic. So on the weekend, I try to switch off my electronic devices and hide them inside a drawer whenever I can.
Right now we are…
Sally: Cool Cat by Juliette Armanet
Emily: Communication by Junko Yagami
(We’re curating our Spotify playlist for Vamp while writing this!)
Emily: We Are Who We Are. Simply stunning.
Sally: Banana muffins
Emily: Homemade fresh pasta
Sally: Sports tank and leggings
Emily: Lockdown pyjamas
Sally: Iced coffee
Emily: A glass of spicy Shiraz
Finally, what do you enjoy most about working with Vamp and being Vamp creators?
Sally and Emily: We took a risk by moving back to Sydney a few years ago. Not knowing anyone in the industry and leaving everything in Indonesia behind. It’s really daunting because it takes time to build a network in a new city. Vamp definitely makes it easier by opening doors and connecting us with global brands.
The projects are high in quality and each one we are commissioned for has been because we align artistically with the client. To be trusted to authentically put our DNA in each piece of work is a luxury for any creator. We’re so grateful for this. We look forward to more collaborations together. And we’re excited to see what the future holds!