Photographer Emily Ibarra has been photographing the Bay for over six years, blending a smooth, elegant style with her spider-sense for the outside and wacky. Operating under the moniker EDIPhotoeye, Emily has maintained a 100% independent business approach, which has allowed her to tour for months on end with some of America’s finer indie bands, athletes, and entertainers. Comprised of clean textures and flowing images, Ibarra has certainly allowed herself to stand out from the herd.
What made you jump into the whole touring aspect? You’ve toured quite a bit with bands, and usually on a whim.
Portugal the Man was really one of the only bands that I looked at and said “I want to shoot them”. I manifested the idea of following a band on tour, only because I got a gig with Portugal The Man shooting them for a magazine. Sheepishly I approached their manager about shooting them, and surprisingly from there I got flown out to Chicago to shoot them again. At that moment I knew I didn’t want to leave, and I didn’t. I stayed on for the rest of the tour. It was an on the fly decision.
You’re on you’re own for the most part, but do you consider yourself to be in the industry?
I do consider myself to be in the industry. A part of it at least. The photography industry is very difficult. I think every year it starts to get more intense. There isn’t a correct way to pursue this, but I’ve had to do it my way. I don’t have a degree in business or a big diploma saying that I’m some fancy photographer. Photography is like any art. There are many paths to take, but there is no formula, or “right” way to do it. I’ve realized that a lot of the industry is based on decisions. Making hard decisions is a part of the job. Most people aren’t used to having that much responsibility, especially about the stability of their job.
In your line of work, what has been the most fulfilling experience?
The most fulfilling experience I’ve had is a hard one. I’ve done so much with photography, and seen so many people and things. I was assisting a shoot for a friend, and it was shooting cats and dogs, [but] the handlers also have a lot of exotic animals. They happened to have two white Bengal tiger siblings—I was petting an endangered baby animal! Who in their life will get to experience that? Things that I would have never guessed.
You also had an amazing chance to work with the first ever Parkour Federation. How did this come onto your horizon?
Working with them has been so fate related. It was off of craigslist. I was browsing through, and found their posting looking for interns on an action sports show. They weren’t even looking for a photographer. I was the first person to contact them, and I got to talking to the co-owner of the World Federation of Parkour. I mentioned that I did photography and got the job from there. It’s been an amazing time too. The Federation is made up of some of the best Parkour athletes in the world. While I shot them, I get to ask if they can do crazy stunts, “Can you jump from this gap to this roof ledge, and do a flip here?” and they’ll do it. I feel sort of selfish knowing that I am endangering their lives for a photo (laughs).
What is your work like in a general week?
I’m constantly ping-ponging between LA and SF. I got to shoot the pride parade for the LA times, and then I drove back into LA that night. Got up the very next morning and shot a band for AP. I’m really throwing myself into this and going where the work is. At the same time I’m also having a blast doing the most random and interesting jobs.
You love this work, but more importantly, what makes this job worth it to you?
What is worth it, is that I’m keeping my word. I’m being honest with what I do, in a world saturated with photographers who are just looking for a paycheck. I’m being reliable. Secondly, I’m getting the exposure I want. I live very in the moment, and the real accomplishment with photography is growing and learning more. Building a long history of my work that I can look back on. This is more about getting my art out there for people to share in, and letting people see the work I truly love.
Interview by Nikolaus Bartunek
Photos courtesy Emily Ibarra
Be sure to visit ediphotoeye.com to contact Emily and see more of her work