2015 in 12 portraits

In mid January 2015 I decided I’d take a portrait a day and post it to social media. A challenge to myself to get out there and make work every day of the year, and only a ‘project’ in the loosest sense of the word.

I’ve been mostly successful at this, missing a few days due to illness, insomnia or all-engrossing deadlines. I’ve achieved an average of six portraits a week, so if I were a 365-project-purist it might not qualify as a total success, but I am not so it does. Hah!

I’ve achieved my basic aims of maintaining a consistent practice of making portraits, overcoming shyness about approaching people and getting better at working with them to get the image that I want. There have been lots of other positive consequences too – getting to know the people in my community, making new friends, invitations to get involved in other projects, photography commissions. It wasn’t exactly intended as a marketing exercise, so the fact that it worked a bit like that has been a bonus.

One downside has been that I stopped working with analogue cameras all year, because I was permanently carrying around a DLSR so that I could quickly upload my work. I really enjoy using film for personal projects, for its tactile qualities, and the way it makes me slow down and think more before exposing each (increasingly expensive) frame.

I’d like to continue posting a daily (ish) portrait to my instagram and tumblr feeds, but I’ll relax the rules a little this year, to give me more space to work on other projects. Expect a mix of digital and analogue formats and unpublished work from my archive as well as faces of the people I meet from day to day.

So here is my year in 12 portraits:

1. Stacy-diptych

January: Performance artist Stacy Makishi outside the New Unity church in Newington Green.

Tony, Trattoria di Luigi, Stoke Newington Church Street. Day 39.

February: Tony, a welcoming face at Trattoria di Luigi, Stoke Newington Church Street.


March: Azim getting a late night cut and shave on Stoke Newington High Street.


April: Jack, who was my neighbour in Crouch End when we were kids, visiting from Brisbane, where he’s lived since 1989. Photographed in the White Hart, Stoke Newington.

Luke, day 114

May: Luke, an art director, wearing headgear by Fuud, on Stoke Newington High St.


June: Bedri, minicab controller on Stokey High Street.

Chiara, day 163

July: Chiara, an Italian living in London, who was hanging out with friends outside IL Monte restaurant on Stokey High St.

Asha, day 201

August: Asha, from Somalia, encountered on Via Palazzuolo, Florence.


Sepember: David, one of the landlords of the Royal Sovereign pub in Clapton.

Amanda, 1am

October: Amanda, a writer, photographed in Brick Lane at 1am as part of the Beigel Bake project and exhibition with the collective LDNtwentyfour7.


November: Antonio, a musician originally from Sardinia, working at Lucky Seven record shop on Stokey Church St.


December: Artist Julio Osorio, with painting of his in a shop window in Covent Garden – his exhibition launch was taking place in the Frevd bar downstairs.

8 Responses

  1. Andrew
    January 27, 2016

    Huge congratulations on the rigour of your practice over the last year. It’s paid off creating the opportunities these images record. Can you say, on a scale of 1 to 10 how hard it was to stick with; and how has your personal reward from the project changed over the period?

    • Emma
      February 1, 2016

      Thank you Andrew! The difficulty varied somewhat depending on workload and emotional state but maybe about a 6? Hard to quantify… it was mostly a challenge but not a chore. Personally, I’ve consistently enjoyed going up to strangers and the interactions that result :)

  2. Griselda Sanderson
    February 1, 2016

    I enjoyed looking at those Emma – you are so good at putting people at their ease. What an amazing collection!

    • Emma
      February 1, 2016

      Thanks Griselda :)

  3. leomburu
    February 1, 2016

    Please keep going. I’ve really enjoyed the photos, especially finding about all the characters from the old neighbourhood.

    • Emma
      February 2, 2016

      Thanks Leo… I will keep it going, more or less – it’s become a bit of a habit now anyway xx

  4. Amber
    February 2, 2016

    I’ve really enjoyed following your photos over the year – you’ve captured some great characters and scenes. Looking forward to your next project xx

    • Emma
      February 2, 2016

      Thanks Amber :) x


Leave a Reply