We had the good fortune of connecting with Emma Finlayson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emma, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I first picked up a camera, my intention was to just have some fun. But as I got more skilled in portraiture, more people began reaching out to me asking for photos. At that point, I knew it was something that could be more than just a hobby. And this mindset settled in at a perfect time in my life; I was in high school and began asking myself the big question of “what do I want to do with my life?” Thankfully, I had found something that set my soul on fire, and I knew that photography could one day support me financially, so I jumped and decided to go for it!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was quite funny growing up with two sisters who were (and still are) artists, while I never thought I was. They could both draw, paint, and illustrate incredibly beautiful work, and I was stuck wondering why I didn’t have the same gifts. It wasn’t until I delved into photography that I learned that I was just as much of an artist as my sisters were. I’m still figuring out how to fully embrace creativity and.manifest it in my work, but I know that I process what’s in my head in my photography. When I’m feeling down, my subject matter and edits tend to be darker and more desaturated. On the contrary, when I’m joyous, the same reflects in my images. Along this journey, I’ve also learned that not every image I create has to be a mile-deep trench filled with abstract meaning; sometimes you can create art just for art’s sake. This idea seems to have been lost, but I want to bring it back. Sometimes photos can just look nice for the sake of looking nice.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The thing I love about Arizona is that you can see anything and everything you want within hours of each other. I would start in Downtown Phoenix for some incredible street art and murals, and of course Mexican food (Mi Patio on Seventh Avenue and Osborn will forever be my favorite). While there’s some great coffee in the area too, I think I’d have to hit up some spots in my hometown of Gilbert like Bergies Roast House or Mythical Coffee, both along Gilbert Road. I’m a big nature junkie, so I’d be sure to check out some of the Salt River sites; a personal favorite of mine is Phon D. Sutton. Outside of the valley, some of my favorite spots are the Mogollon Rim near Payson and the White Mountains. A simple drive through these areas during an afternoon rainstorm fills me with pure joy. There’s no shortage of things to do and sights to see around this incredible state!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
In high school, I became heavily involved in my school’s yearbook as the editor-in-chief. However, I wound up in the class as an accident; I signed up for a photography class but it was full, and I somehow landed in Digital Communications, also known as yearbook. I tried to drop it and get into the photography class, but my mom convinced me to stick with it, and I’m so glad she did. The yearbook advisor, Kathy Nicolson, was and continues to serve as one of my biggest inspirations. Without her, I wouldn’t have the passion for photography or journalism that I do today. And thanks to her, Mesquite High School continues to win awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association or National Scholastic Press Association for its yearbooks. She challenges her students to push past their comfort zones and do the hard work. She’s taught me through both word and action that nothing good comes from being stagnant. She knows the talents of her students and pushes them to bring that talent to the light. I could go on and on about her; Nicolson inspired me to pursue the career I want, and never settle for less than that.
Headshot credit to Jen Driesbach All other photos by Emma Finlayson