Drenched in light, Emily Ulmer’s images are something quite rare. Capturing children just as they are, there’s a poignancy about them that never oversteps the mark. After a day’s shoot in a Brooklyn brownstone with some of Caramel’s SS14 collection, we take a moment to ask Emily a few questions.
Emily, we love your photos! Can you tell us a bit about what first got you hooked on shooting kids?
Thank you! And sure! When I began photographing kids, I didn’t know how much I’d fall in love with it. As I started shooting more kids, I quickly found how rewarding it was, challenging myself to capture youth in a natural and unforced way. It was exciting to explore such a new territory and once I did I haven’t looked back.
You must have so many great memories of shoots gone past. Could you share one of your favourites?
One of my favourite memories is from a shoot I did last summer with two best friends, Lulu and Nina (ages 8 and 9). I’d been photographing the two girls over the course of a couple of years, documenting their friendship. They’d both moved to Los Angeles at the same time with their families so they were the new kids in school together. Nina was from Ireland, and Lulu from Australia. Lulu was moving back to Australia and I photographed the two of them together for the last time a few days before she was leaving. They wouldn’t be seeing each other again for some time. As I shot them, you could just see how strong of a bond that they shared and it was so beautiful to be able to capture. At the end they hugged and there were tears… from everyone! It was one of my most special shoots by far.
We’d love to know your top tip for photographing kids.
The best photographs of kids are the ones where they don’t know they’re being photographed. If you tell a child to smile, they will, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll get the most unnatural smile imaginable. I’ve never once asked a child to smile during my shoots! I love when they do smile, but if it’s not natural I won’t even take the picture. So my top tip for getting the best photos of your children is to just have your camera on you while you’re playing with them or watching them play and try and capture those unposed moments. You’ll come away with beautiful and real images.
Do you have a dream place you’d love to shoot?
I have so many dream places where I’d love to shoot but at the moment I’d most love to photograph some amazing kids on a small island in Spain or Greece. Trying to make that happen this summer!
Speaking of summer, we’re all about it at the moment! What would be your perfect summer day?
My perfect summer day would be going to the beach – usually Malibu – with a close friend or two. Bringing food for a picnic, we’d just spend hours there, not doing much of anything.
You live in Los Angeles, can you share one of your ‘summer in the city’ top tips?
In the summer we have Saturday night movie screenings at an old cemetery in Hollywood: Hollywood Forever. People bring picnics and blankets and they show old favourites such as “The Muppet Movie”, “Chinatown”, “The Shining” etc. It’s one of the best parts of living in Los Angeles in the summer.
Finally, we love the shoot you did with Caramel – do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Yes, I’m in love with the pale pink eyelet dress!
Thank you Emily!
(Styling by Molly Kennedy)