Emily Hlavac Green: EXPLORER AT HEART
Contemplating Emily Hlavac Green's photography is an adventure by itself. We first candidly assumed that this had only to do with growing up over the New Zealand's breathtaking landscapes. We then understood that it was more than simple. Emily craves learning, exploring and discovering about people, places and whatever she hasn't seen yet that will blow her mind (and ours as well). And is amazingly talented at framing her subjects in timeless and touching visuals close to poetry, worthy of the finest travel & lifestyle publications.
Her candid and nostalgic way to look at things and inspirations felt so familiar. We were looking forward to meeting with this born-traveler in her charming Greenpoint apartment and get a better understanding of her fascination for photography.
Tell us a bit about you!
I was born and raised in New Zealand, lived in various cities before studying and setting up a studio in Dunedin, a small coastal town in the South Island. While growing my photography career I've been fortunate to travel, teaching fashion photography workshops in Shanghai, China and working on sustainable assignments in the Pacific Islands and Peru. I also spent a couple of years working in-house as a lead photographer & art director for a New Zealand's leading food personality, then on a whim moved to New York with my partner Jordan where we've been living for two years now. The scope of my work includes adventure, portraiture, and the intersections between food, fashion and sustainable travel. I love to be on the move and don't like to stand still!
What led you to become a photographer?
As a kid, I would fill albums with pictures of my pets, stuffed toys, and friends. I was always eager to pick up glossy disposable prints from the 1hr Photo, and later watching images appear under the red light of the darkroom at Art School. I felt connected to that process-driven way of working and the ability to save a moment, meanwhile excited about the analog, unpredictable outcome. At the same time, I was fascinated with technology and the fast-changing landscape of photography in the digital and social space.
After graduating with a degree in Fine Arts I can't say I knew much about the technical or business aspects of photography; that came later through dreaming up my own assignments with friends and saying 'yes' to client work that scared the hell out of me.
Tell us what inspires you.
I am always inspired by interesting light - the way it pools, harsh shadows, a diffused glow through smog in a city. I'll use light and color as an emotive element or create visual stories motivated by a curiosity of place and character. I'm an emotional sponge, I feel everything. I don't want to hide that or make work that doesn't feel like anything, so I'm always looking for a vibe or feeling. Places I find inspiration often are airports, planes, trains, the ocean, new cities, small cinematic towns.
Who inspired your creative journey?
Mum and Dad are both really good at painting in very different ways. While I am terrible at painting, they transmitted that same passion for art and creativity to me.
Can you share some of your favorite inspirations?
- Artists: James Turrell, Nan Goldin, Alex Prager, Wes Anderson
- Instagram accounts: Jimmy Marble, Olivia Bee, Forrest Mankins
- Podcasts: How I Built This, Love + Radio, Strangers, The Great Discontent
- Newsletters: Creative Mornings is one of the most worthwhile things I love to go to in NYC.
How do you pull yourself out of really low moments?
It's crazy how much pressure there is as an artist to be connected, socially engaged and sharing work constantly. I'm identifying that a lot of anxiety comes from 'over-inspiration' in this digital space. This means stepping away from the computer, disconnecting for a moment and avoid being comparative about my work.
"As a kid, I felt connected to that process-driven way of working and the ability to save a moment, meanwhile excited about the analog, unpredictable outcome"
Emily Hlavac Green
What is your personal motto?
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
What are the things in your life you feel most grateful for?
My family on the other side of the world, my partner Jordan who is on this adventure with me, and my health after recently undergoing a significant surgery.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
About 7 years ago I came to New York as an optimistic kiwi, with a dream insight of eventually moving here. I took my portfolio to show a few photographers and one told me my just get here, and the rest will follow. That stuck with me constantly while I figured out how to make it happen.
How do you incorporate self-care into your life?
Coming from New Zealand I value fresh air, the ocean and greenery a lot. In NYC I make time to get outside and keep moving. Sometimes I will catch the train at 5 am to the Rockaways just to see the sunrise and dip my toes in the sea. We'll go hiking and camping upstate and cook over a campfire. Eating well and cooking at home also makes me happy.
Do you have any have any creative rituals?
I like to use my camera as a medium to draw, sketch or play when I'm not shooting something for a client. I'll incorporate risk-taking in creative practice by shooting film, cutting up images and drawing on them. I'll shoot a concept that's been sitting in my mind for awhile or collaborate on a project with a friend. I also like to wander the Flower District or Chinatown.
How would you define your fashion style?
I really love the functionality, or repurposed things and do a lot of natural dying and thrift shopping. Silk is my weakness and I love a good hat.
Finally, can you share with us...
- Your design/interior design style & inspirations
Mid-century modern, light through glass, minimal but collected and curated. Tiny houses. Biophilic spaces.
- Your go-to/favorite restaurants
The Musket Room, Lam Zhou Hand-pulled Noodles, Emilio's Ballato, Modern Love
- Your go-to / favorite coffee shops
Variety, Saturdays, Five Leaves, Homecoming
Discover more of Emily's work on her website ... and follow her on Instagram @emilyhlavacgreen !