Emily Almodovar Main RAYDAR

Meet Emily Almodovar: Shaping Visual Tales of Culture and Community

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Emily Almodovar Main RAYDAR

Shaping narratives through a blend of light and shadow, Emily Almodovar illuminates the photographic world. A dance of cultures defines her—British and Filipino—melding with the vibrant spirit of her city, London. It’s in this intersection of identities that Emily crafts her visual tales, a potent blend of diaspora, mental health, and community.

The photographer’s artistic journey, intriguingly, took a detour through the world of dance before she found her true calling. “Before my career as a photographer, I trained as a dancer for over a decade and had the ambition of being a choreographer,” Emily shares. The transition was not without its challenges, but Almodovar firmly believes, “I had to go to university to find my purpose again.”

With a newfound purpose, her lens became a medium to bring to light the stories of diverse individuals. Over time, her aesthetic evolved from being heavily influenced by fashion photography to focusing on authentic portraiture. “At the beginning, I wanted people to think my images were cool and trendy. Now, I’m more interested in meeting new and interesting people to document. My creative drive is to work on projects that have a deeper meaning and have a profound impact on people,” Emily elaborates.

An interesting characteristic of Emily’s work is her deliberate choice of personal spaces as the backdrop for her subjects. “I believe our home is an extension of us,” she explains, reflecting on 2017’s “Bedroom Series,” where she intimately captured individuals in their personal spaces. Fast forward to 2022, the photographer debuted her campaign “Facing Myself,” which features a series of women with skin conditions, taking an empowering focus on mental health and beauty in all of its forms. Thus far, Almodovar’s portfolio has led her to work with labels like Nike, & Other Stories, Levi’s, and several more.

A powerful underlying thread in Emily’s work is her commitment to representation, especially for her Filipino roots. “Growing up being English and Filipino, I never felt represented through imagery. So, I made a decision to photograph more people of Filipino descent,” she confides. It’s a heartfelt mission to create the representation she sought, not just for herself but for others who share her experience.

Ahead, photographer Emily Almodovar walks us through some of her favorite photographs, including intimate moments with her grandmother, friends, and much more. “These kinds of photos are my favorite to shoot, as it allows me to observe,” she tells us. Continue reading to learn the story behind them.

1. Testing With Luke

This photo from 2021 is when I believe my true visual style came to life. As a photographer that likes to use both digital and film cameras, I’m aware that visually they can give you two different results. To keep my style consistent I like to emulate the feeling of film photography by editing a soft focus in my images. I take inspiration from medium format film portraits by having the facial features the sharpest, forcing the viewer to focus on the emotion on the subject’s face. The subject looking away from the camera is a constant theme throughout my work, as I believe it makes the subject more vulnerable and allows me to capture their honest emotion at that moment.

2. At Home With Laura

This photo is one of the earliest film shoots I ever did. Laura, a friend from school, was modeling at the time but also began drawing as an emotional outlet. That day we had already shot in her garden, but for these images, I thought to use her bedroom as a backdrop as it seemed more suitable for narrative. For test shoots, the styling is always a collaborative process. I asked her to pull some options that she felt most herself in. We decided on the bright blues to contrast the white minimal space, forcing the viewer to focus on her. I like how natural the last two images are, as if I’m a fly on the wall. These kinds of photos are my favorite to shoot, as it allows me to observe.

3. Experimenting in the Studio

This photo is from a test shoot based in a photo studio. I had met Abi the previous week and expressed that I’d love to photograph her. There wasn’t much of a goal for this shoot, so a lot of the day was trying new lighting techniques and having fun with it. I love how the makeup, hair, and outfit are complemented by her expression and body language. You can see my early interest in fashion influencing this image and could easily be a campaign for a streetwear brand.

4. Eden in East London

This shoot was to test a film camera I’d had for years, but never used before. The camera itself isn’t great quality, but I love how raw the images came out. Steering away from my usual aesthetic of sharp and informed, I’ve been experimenting with blur and non-focus as it gives my images a different feel. I love testing out new ideas as it challenges my creativity and allows me to find new ways of photographing.

5. At Home With My Grandma

This photo is from a project I’m currently working on that shines a light on age and mental health, with my lovely grandparents as subjects. I’m fortunate enough to still have both sets of grandparents and it’s because of this I felt called to document them.  I plan to also video and interview them, gaining new knowledge about their lives and learning from their wisdom. What I love about this image is even though you can only see my grandma’s silhouette, you still understand the motions that she is going through.