Emma Hartvig Photographs of fragmented narratives and a whole lot of tension

Cover Image - Emma Hartvig

At first glance, the images Emma Hartvig photographs seem to come straight out of a lifestyle magazine — the models are stripped of any wrinkle or bump in their bodies, the colors are bright and the compositions are clean and simple. But when you take a closer look, you discover that these images have some sort of extra layer; a hidden narrative that is waiting for you to unravel it.

By using filmic language as her starting point, Emma creates what she calls “fragmented narratives.” It is as if what’s happening outside of the frame is almost as important as what happens within; often the images are cropped in such a way that they leave the viewer to fill in the missing pieces.

“I really like tension in photography,” Emma says. “I get most of my inspiration from movies, and therefore I tend to treat photography like film stills. It’s like a trailer, or a crop from a scene. I don’t want to give away the whole story because I like the idea of seduction. You want to see the whole movie, you want to know more.”

She is also inspired by the purity of the pre-Photoshop age, when the pressure was on to get what you needed on the set itself. And so before shooting, Emma plans every detail by making copious notes during her research and building proper storyboards. “I am a perfectionist, so I make sure my images are flawless on set when I shoot. But then I ‘fix’ them up later.

“I wouldn’t say my subjects need to be perfect – for example, I don’t retouch skin and I don’t mind imperfection – but I have this urge to portray them in a visual perfection. The world they live in needs to be lush.”