Updated: Jun 23
Decadent Cosmos had the pleasure of speaking with local artist and photographer Emily Zaccaria (@yourmomsfilm).
I do not have a choice whether or not to create, I have to create
Seeking a spot to have our conversation, I follow Emily through the brisk streets of Davis Square, watching as she constantly looks for the beauty in ordinary parts of her Somerville neighborhood. I think to myself, you can tell she's an artist, she tilts her head to see how the sun hits the purple bush on the corner. We settle at a table and begin.
Tell me about yourself
“Right now, I am super focused on my photography and where I work [at a film lab, developing film]” Emily says. She explains to me how even though her job may have its rocky moments, it allows her the space to further her goals as an artist and provides her with some of the resources she needs to pursue them.
Can you explain to me what photography means to you? How did you discover this passion?
She tells me about how she would steal her mother's blazers from her closet and take photos of herself in the reflection of the mirror with a white digital camera. Her interest was officially sparked. Emily began taking portraits of her friends.
Her first film camera came to her thanks to a Tinder date. Emily brought the camera to her date, curious whether he could fix it (he was into film). Her date gave her the film camera instead.
Soon, photography became how Emily expressed every part of herself.
She explains that her photography moves through phases. She typically goes back and forth between photographing others and using herself as a subject, exploring her deeper self through her art.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Like many artists in the world today, Emily sources much of her inspiration from other artists on Instagram. Specifically, women in film. She also is inspired by people who frequent the film lab where she currently works. An older woman at the shop who has been particularly influential often tells Emily stories about the bands she has shot on film. Emily rhapsodically recounts how this woman photographed Nirvana and has film photos of Kurt Cobain. This same photographer inspired Emily to explore low-light work.
Emily tells me that she seeks out women filmmakers whom she can “see herself in”.
Is there anything specific you attempt to portray through your photography?
Emily says that she doesn't strive for any specific outcome, or to satisfy any particular audience, with her work. She believes that the people with whom her work resonates will appreciate her craft, but she doesn't let what other people think influence her art whatsoever. She creates for the purpose of making art that means something to her. If people follow her journey, that’s just a bonus.
What motivates you to create and why?
“I do not have a choice whether or not to create, I have to create,” Emily tells me.
She feels as though her art form is an extension of herself: if she didn't create she wouldn't feel as though she even existed. Emily adds that she doesn’t experience what many artists describe as “creator’s block” because creating is so integrated into who she is.
Do you create to understand or do you express what you have already learned?
“Create to understand.”
A lot of the things Emily creates have little to no plan, then there are other projects in which she strives for a specific outcome. This is partly why she loves shooting film. It allows her the discipline of not knowing what the outcome of a project will be until she develops it. She creates the things she does solely for herself, not aiming for any specific outcome or trying to please any particular audience. This makes her work beautifully intimate.
You include yourself in much of your work and describe yourself as “experimenting with self”, can you tell me more about this?
“I have only been a conscious being since 2020!” Emily proclaims.
In 2020, for the first time, Emily found a version of herself that she could recognize. Since then, photographing herself makes her feel as though she can actually see what she looks like and who she physically is. She tells me about how it's easier to see oneself in one’s own camera view, and how it is much different from having photos taken of yourself, “it makes more sense”, she concludes.
I am extremely appreciative of Emily for being so open and transparent with me about her photography and how intertwined she is with creating. Please, if you can, go follow and support her! Thank you again, Emily.
You can find Emily’s photography page on Instagram @yourmomsfilm