The Ambassador Series: Emily Berger-Crawford - Detroit
Hi Emily! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm an editorial and commercial food and lifestyle photographer, living in Detroit, Michigan. Three years ago I decided to move back home with my now husband from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, to pursue our personal and professional goals in a city we felt was more hospitable for people taking risks. Our goals were to buy a home, spend more time outside of a city environment, and for myself personally, go back to my original passion of photography and turn it into a full-time freelance gig. And we were able to accomplish all of those things! We bought our home in the east side of the city nine months ago and I'm a full time photographer.
How did your interest in photography begin?
My Dad had an interest when he was 18 or so and I think I picked up on some of that. I took a class at the Flint Institute of Arts when I was about 14 and my Dad and I set up a basement darkroom shortly after. It just kind of snowballed from there.
What steps did you take to turn this passion into a career?
I took classes in high school, shot just a ton of pictures and eventually went to college for it. After college I worked in some other (but still helpful and semi-related) industries for a while; production and fashion. Those taught me a lot, about a lot. Dealing with clients, scheduling your time, the financial side of things, just a wide range of practical skills that have helped me immensely while working for myself. Beyond that I was shooting a ton on the side still and pouring myself over magazines and websites. I've always felt like it was important to stay current and informed on relevant, working photographers all over the country. I love seeing how they work and their eye- it inspires me to do my own thing even more. Eventually I felt like I had the foundation to make it work shooting full-time so quit my job in fashion in NY and that's when we moved back to Detroit.
Do you have a specific subject that you love to photograph?
Food! Ideally food on floors, overhead. I know that's so specific but most of the times they end up being my favorite images. I love super controlled compositions. Food is a good majority of what I shoot as well so I feel very comfortable doing it. I just wrapped shooting the Sister Pie cookbook (a bakery here in Detroit), due out in Fall of 2018, and am getting to work in January on another cookbook focused on vegetables with a chef out of the west side of the state- Abra Berens. I feel so fortunate to be doing this work.
What makes you passionate about the work you do?
I love showcasing Michigan, Detroit and our incredible agricultural resources. I think that's why I like shooting food and farm / food focused lifestyle work so much. We're incredibly spoiled with the diversity of our agriculture here and our natural resources in general. That love for those things really fuels my love for shooting work related to that on some level. I also just love making beautiful images out of whatever I have in front of me and using what light is available. It teaches you to be flexible and I feel like the light will set the mood for the images most of the time. I like working that way.
Why did you want to become a Glossary ambassador?
So many of the projects I work on professionally I'm realizing are becoming more and more female driven. It's something I've really noticed shifting lately, and it's such a comforting way to work. So that being said the idea of a group being able to facilitate more and more of those partnerships not only locally, but nationally, is super exciting. Also going back to be motivated by other people doing their thing, that's was also a factor in my desire to be involved. I love hearing, seeing and knowing people making stuff happen. It's such a good way to stay inspired.
What are some of your favorite places in Detroit?
This is such a hard list to narrow down! But I'll do my best and try to keep it tight. Outdoor / Sightseeing- Belle Isle, Elmwood Cemetery (I know it's weird but it's stunning- trust me on this one), Riverwalk, Historic Fort Wayne (I love this place so much my husband and I got married there), Detroit Institute of Arts. Shopping- Eldorado General Store, POST, my friend Lisa with Pot & Box is opening a flower and plant shop this winter so I can't wait for that, Nest and Will Leather Goods. Food / Drink- Two James Distillery, Sister Pie, Mudgies Deli, Selden Standard, Mabel Gray in Hazel Park, Green Dot Stables, and Red Hook for coffee.