Emma Lee Smit is a 21 year old photographer living and studying in Amsterdam. This young creative was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Belville, South Africa until the age of 15 when she made the brave move to Holland to pursue an international school diploma. We spoke to Emma as part of our series of pieces documenting young creatives doing what they love and living in their truth:
Who Are You
My name is Emma Lee Smit – I was brought up with a Dutch background while living in South Africa, so I always had some Dutch influence growing up. My dad is Dutch and my gran was too which is why I was always connected to the Netherlands. When I was 15 I officially moved to Holland to pursue an international high school diploma, I succeeded and after that decided to take a gap year. In this gap year, I realised that there was so much more to be to learned about Holland, the people, the opportunities, and the dreams. I felt like my growth In Holland was not done yet, so I decided to stay. After some difficult times in my life, I moved to Amsterdam (as I was living in another neighbourhood further South from Amsterdam), which had been my aspiration for a long time. I was immediately fixated with the city. It’s like a big melting pot of eccentric personalities and boundless dreams, this lived closely within the people I surrounded myself with.
What I do:
Currently I study at The Amsterdam Fashion Institute, following the course of International Fashion and Branding. Hoping to carry on chasing my dream of fashion journalism and photography.
I also work part-time at a Raw Food Café called, Zest for Life in the heart of Amsterdam.
How I started taking photos:
Taking images; the need to preserve memories and capturing beautiful faces has been a part of me since I lay in my mother’s womb. I wasn’t particularly academic in High school – having struggled from dyslexia for as long as I could remember. With growing feelings of alienation from my peers – I decided to pick up a camera one day and I haven’t looked back since. I think the idea of being good at something and also being in control really appealed to me so I started taking the camera with me everywhere I went – parties; beach trips; walks to-and-from school etc. Leaving to Amsterdam was definitely the best decision for me as I was excited to finally have people passionate about the same things as I was all around me – with a beautiful city as an added bonus!
What drives me to capture my images in the way I do?
Being able to express the power of being direct, pure, and capturing individual’s in their most vulnerable states.
I always try to incorporate a ‘lively’ element in my images even if the picture seems ‘empty’. I crave to find the combination, the mix of spontaneity and candidness within my images. The spontaneity, which to me really inspires my work is undoubtedly influenced by my love and passion for street photography.
I really try to capture very brief and unique periods of time, gestures or movements. Moments where people are not thinking too much, just doing. Those are the instants I want to show through my work. In modern society and with the progression of influencers and social media things are often interpreted so differently than they actually are, or from my feeling aren’t as honest as things used to be.
What inspires you? Any other creatives you look up to?
Although there are other creatives that really inspire me, it’s my friends that I surround myself with that really give me the energy to be creative. I am so appreciative to all my friends that support not only me but one another. To push each other to be the best version of ourselves.
Some creatives I look up to for inspiration:
– @Negative feedback (youtube platform that taught me a lot about analog photography –https://negativefeedback.co.uk/)