When we caught up with Emily Maye this week, she was halfway through a mad tour of Colombia, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland, with France still to come. “Then home for some rest!” she told us. In hindsight, it’s something of a miracle we were able to catch her at all.
It’s hardly surprising she’s so in demand – since establishing herself as one of the most exciting documentary photographers working in the field, she’s been running from one job to the next, covering the fields of bullfighting, fencing and ballet as well as cycling, the work she made her name for.
It was a series made about Ivy League track for the first issue of METER magazine, a publication by Tracksmith focused on running culture, that we wanted to ask her about. “I wanted to capture both the excitement of the track event but also the style of the Ivy uniforms,” she explained. “Having all of the Ivy league schools there in one place is a cool way to see the style between them. I was also interested in the interplay between group camaraderie and individual pursuit. Because I focus so much on documentary sports, it’s always a goal to capture the event in a way that shows more than just the finish lines.”
When it came to shooting the event, she had her work cut out. “Indoor tracks can be tricky, so I tried to focus on colour and composition and try to keep the clutter visually organised. The event lasted a day and a half but the second day had more crowd energy to it and that produced some nice results. Competition always gives you some great moments to capture authentically, and closed environments like that allow you to walk around and capture some different moments than say a cycling race where you go from point A to point B.”
“I love to take that heightened tension and calm it down just a bit and capture something really cinematic in that pursuit.”
Fortunately for us, she doesn’t plan to slow down on her sports-focused work any time soon. “Sports have so much drama built into them. I love to take that heightened tension and calm it down just a bit and capture something really cinematic in that pursuit. I love to photograph people fully committed to their sport. The authenticity in that moment exposes something so human and intimate. I try to photograph the person and not the sport.”
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