Interview: Shared Visions With Sally & Emily
The sisters taking the world by storm!
Mad Love 6m

Succeeding in collaboration through art is… well, an art in itself. To have a shared vision that doesn’t result in conflict, death stares and seething resentment can be a near impossible feat. Recall excruciating past traumas of every uni group assignment you ever had, or choosing a LACK at IKEA with a significant other, and you’ll know exactly what i’m talking about. However, photographers Sally and Emily seem to pull it off with effortless finesse and grace.

Born in Sydney but raised in Jakarta, sisters Sally Ann and Emily May always had an intimate connection unique to siblings. With a joint love and desire to pursue a career rooted in the arts, they would translate their sibling relationship over to their creative endeavours. Having studied at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Fashion Business at Lasalle College, the sisters began focusing their artistic practices on photography. Buliding a body of work spanning over half a decade, Sally and Emily have become renowned for their exploration of photographic expressionism and contemporary ideas of beauty. Through the well curated scope of their lens’, they are able to capture images of evolving femininity and the delicate asymmetry of the human form against a vibrant colour palette.

The sister’s work has not gone unrecognized, having caught the attention of several highly acclaimed celebrities and brands, the illustrious list of names of which include LANY, Jessica Gomes, and Elle  –  and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Coming off the back of their most recent show ‘Plastic Hearts’, we caught up with the sisters as they round out another successful year before looking towards an even brighter 2019.

Growing up in Jakarta, do you have any art related memories that still resonates with you to this day?

S:  Traditional Indonesian art and their method of doing things manually still impact me greatly. In school, everything we had to do was very crafty, hands on. We did not use computers or graphics. I guess that explains why I prefer to do things with my hands and why mixed media plays a big role in our artworks.

E: When I was 11, I made a zine and a short movie with a couple of mates from school. We printed a few copies at home, cast ourselves before we knew the word ‘indie’, and sold the VCDs all around. It was super embarrassing but a whole lot of fun! Made some pocket money too. A few years later, I picked up my first camera from dad. My grandma and mum also happened to run fashion boutiques. Our family introduced us to the world of art and fashion even if they did not mean to.

What made you both decide to pursue creative careers, let alone with each other?

E: It is finding the unseen vision that leads me to shoot. To create is a great pleasure in my life and what’s fuelling my relationship with Sally. This is the career that keeps us like children. Sometimes innocent, sometimes achingly curious, always thrillingly imaginative world.

S: Emily and I joked around on this, we wouldn’t mind pursuing any kind of career as long as we do it together – actually, we’re not kidding.

How would you describe your combine creative process? How much of it is loosely collaborative compared to set roles?

E: I find Sally very creative and her balanced energy keeps me on my toes. To start with, we both have to create an image we’re drawn into and be on the same page. Anything could become a picture. Then we’ll shoot together on set and snap off each other’s camera. S: We do have a different set of roles aside from the shoot day, as Emily handle more pre-production and I do most post-production. It doesn’t feel like work cause we make each other LOL all the time.

Having travelled the world and worked with an envious list of international clients, how do you balance doing commercial work with your own artistic projects? 

S: It’s tricky for sure, finding the balance between art and commerce. For me, it’s a matter of sustaining that awareness to differentiate the two and how we approach them. Artistic projects are for ourselves, commercial projects are for the client.

E: With artistic projects, I’m creating to heal and to feel better. A byproduct of that is having a series of photographs where I’m unloading a lot. Being an artist means that one is dedicated to discovering ways of making anxiety fruitful and beautiful. Our photos come from a place of experience and I want people to see themselves in our works.

Recently you both held your latest exhibition “Plastic Heart”, exploring the ideas of transparency, self-reflection and the fluidity of time. What made you both decide this was the right time to showcase such a diverse body of work?

E: A homecoming journey from Indonesia and reconnecting to Sydney. “Plastic Heart” marks a chapter that we wanted to celebrate, not for ourselves, but also to give back to the Palu tsunami and earthquake victims through the charity cause behind it.

S: Both of us were also going through a transformative period this year, a lot of the works are very personal and was heavily inspired by the souls we’ve encountered in Sydney.

A part of the show was also collaborating with an array of Australian based talent (including the previously covered Cubone Club), why was this important to you both? Is this something you wish to pursue further in the future?

S: Always. Being able to create that bridge and language with passionate creatives is very exciting.

E: Absolutely. What excites me the most as a photographer is to create something with someone you’re a fan of. I love meeting creative role model people who never let go of their passions. Photography opened doors and founded friendships. It’s purely teamwork.

For anyone wishing to pursue careers similar to yours, what would be the most essential advice you could offer? 

E: When you shoot once, it’s not yours. You shoot 10 times, then it’s yours.

S: Stay humble. A good mate told me to see yourself as a paddy leaf. The higher you are, the more you bow down.

As this year winds down, what would you like to achieve in 2019?

S & E: We’re excited to do it all over again with a sequel show!


Find more info on Sally and Emily here.

Follow @sally_emily




November 21, 2018
Editors Pick