On our latest Elements Series, we caught up with Emile Hussell a fine art photographer and creative director based in Queenstown.
Let’s start at the beginning. When did you first get into Photography?
Initially I started by using photography as a tool to support my Fine Art work when in college, after a while I realised that I enjoyed the process and results much more from these images, so began to place more focus on this moving forward.
You live in Queenstown now, where did you grow up?
I’m originally from the UK, growing up in rural Hampshire on the South Coast. I spent a lot of time near the beach and further down the on the South West coast where I went to university. In the 2020 pre-covid world I was lucky enough to relocate to New Zealand and have been here since.
When did you realise you could make a career out of it?
At uni I started to use my camera to shoot in nightclubs and at music festivals to make a bit of income while studying. This naturally grew into involving myself in some fashion projects which I really enjoyed. I still pursue work in different industries to support my creative practice and to travel.
What’s your go to set up? (Camera) & Video
I’ve been shooting with a Sony A7 III since 2019 and absolutely love it. It’s my go to for both photo and video work, the image quality is phenomenal and I love how compact it is for travelling with. About 90% of my work is shot on a Sony 24-70mm GM lens.
What do you prefer Video or photography work?
I occasionally shoot video alongside my photography projects but I definitely prefer shooting stills. I love the potential still imagery has to encapsulate emotion and beauty in just a single frame.
You shoot a lot in the outdoors and in the elements, has this always been a passion?
The outdoors has always had a strong presence in my life and I think this comes from my Dad and time spent on hiking and camping around the UK. It was also one of the main reasons why I came to New Zealand. I think nature holds an incredible capacity for personal development and mental wellbeing, prioritising time spend outdoors and connecting with that is very important to me.
We love how you tie architecture into your landscape shoots. Tell us about the process and what it takes to get the perfect shot?
I enjoy interior and architectural design a lot and it forms a large portion of my commercial work these days. The process is fairly natural, I look for strong leading lines and structure to base my composition, it’s then mostly about balancing the other elements (light/shadow) with the surrounding natural environment and how these intercept. They should work together to highlight key areas of the architects/designers work as well as its location in-situ.
What are the challenges when shooting in the elements?
NZ weather is infamous for changing in an instant, a nice sunny day suddenly turns to rain and fog, affording minimal visibility. Managing that from a navigational perspective, keeping gear dry and charged, alongside staying safe has to be the main challenge.
Your landscape images always have such amazing lighting, how much is this is done in post?
Thank you - I love spending time in Lightroom and revel at it’s ability to save images (especially client ones) that I thought were ruined. I usually try to achieve most of the lighting results in camera, as well as waiting patiently for the right conditions to align. Often I find the best lighting on overcast days when there are small breaks in the clouds, illuminating segments of the landscape, while other areas remain hidden. I like to drop the shadows down in post to exaggerate this. I also work with a lot with black and white, and fine tuning this is post is an essential part of my workflow.
You have shoot in some remote places in NZ, what are the main challenges when you are this isolated?
Being prepared for the worst is pretty crucial when on isolated trips. Having flexible itinerary, good quality gear (PLB is a must), updated weather reports as well as carrying spare food is always important. Lucky there is an incredible network of backcountry huts here so it’s always a possibility to spend an extra night or two waiting out any weather issues.
Favourite place you have travelled to shoot?
It’s got to be Tokyo, Japan. The intensity and chaos of the city is the opposite if what I usually seek out and was something I’ve not experienced before. I look forward to going back and shooting in the more rural parts up North at some point in the future.
Any mistakes you made early on in your career that you can look back on and laugh?
Small things such as leaving SD cards plugged into my laptop are always cause for a laugh - it still happens on occasion!
When you are not shooting, what are you most likely doing?
Usually it would be something like heading out for a trail run or hike to clear my mind and interact with nature in different ways.
If you could work for any brand or client who would it be?
It would have to be working on an expedition in one of the polar regions.
Are there any photographers that really inspire you or get a lot of inspiration from?
Ben Thouard, Jimmy Chin, Angela Percival, Jono Parker, Richard Gaston to name a few…
As technology keeps getting better and better, it gives everyday people more of a chance to take profession looking photos. How do you see the industry changing over the next 10 years?
It’s hard to see exactly what the future holds but I think a rise in demand for more regular iPhone video assets are becoming more popular in telling brand stories, there will always be a need for high quality photography but I think people find it easy to relate to this kind of format. I also think AI tech will also play a much larger role, which is pretty exciting, whether is it in more automated editing or creating more immersive experiences to tell stories.
Lastly any quick bit of advice for someone who wants to make a career out of photography?
Initially it’s good to try and shoot in quantity and variety to help find out what you like and don’t like and why that is. Consuming the work of other artists and art forms outside of photography is also important, let them influence your style. Also take the opportunity to build your network as much as possible!
From our latest collection, what style do you have on heavy rotation?
I’m loving the Destination shell jacket, it’s an awesome outer layer and keeps me very toasty on morning walks as we go into winter.
Lastly finish this sentence: I like getting back outdoors into the elements because….?
It’s where I feel most alive.
See more of Emiles work here: