Emma-Jane Watson

In my socially engaged photography practice, I document acts of escape and otherworldly joy in images of ordinary people indulging their passions in niche fantasies and hobbyist communities. I believe people are their truest selves when they indulge in their fantasies: you can witness their desires brought into being and see how they want to exist in the world. I collaborate with a diverse collection of communities, from boudoir groups to bowls clubs, from living history medieval re-enactment to contemporary music festivals. My photographs in these contexts aim to capture moments that epitomise these people’s fantasies using the camera as a tool of authenticity, approval, and affirmation for their self-expression. Through a combination of analogue and digital photography, my practice has pushed me creatively and personally. Approaching and working alongside a range of communities, I have learned how to respectfully share and collaborate on realising people’s stories in singular images.

I explore each community in depth, combining photographic practice with discussion and writing. Inspired by photographers such as Nan Goldin and Sharon Lockheart, I immerse myself in a community, an approach that has provided me with the opportunity to try out new sports, learn the workings of different industries and how to improve my own body positivity. Each photographic series aims to show the beauty need and purpose of a specific community. I aim for the audience to come away with their own desire to experiment with something new and to find their people. I hope my photos enable people to put aside the pressure to be ordinary, escape the homogenous day-to-day and engross themselves in the simple, innocent realisation of their own desires.