Faces of Friday: Emily Voss
The purpose of Faces of Friday:
Faces of Friday is a series I have started to provide readers with insight into the lives of inspiring everyday people. Life can take you to unexpected places and these amazing folks are willing to share with you where their lives have taken them. Not everyone in life knew exactly what he or she wanted to do or who he or she wanted to be. They had to learn from trial and error along the way and now they are willing to share with you what they have learned.
I believe that one of the most important things in this life is the connection we share with one another. Identifying with another human being is an amazing gift, it can inspire you to learn, grow, create, and opens your eyes to what more the world has to offer. We are not alone in this crazy thing called life. Life is a beautiful thing filled with beautiful people, and some people don’t get the opportunity to share their story. I want to help others get the opportunity to share their story and I want to give you the opportunity to hear it, learn from it, and maybe, just maybe identify with it. I believe whole-heartedly that you all were meant for incredible things, so I hope you enjoy reading stories of others, and I hope it gives you comfort knowing that you are not alone. We are all learning to navigate life’s murky waters, why not learn from each other along the way??
Where are you from?
I have done my fair share of moving around so it is hard to say exactly where I am from. I was born in Colorado, raised in Alaska and Wisconsin, went to college in Iowa and did further studies in Argentina and New York. Ironically enough though I spent only the first six years of my life in Colorado, that is the place I generally feel most connected to.
Where do you live currently?
I currently reside in Wausau, Wisconsin.
Did you pursue higher education? If so, what did you study?
I attended Luther College, a small liberal arts college in a tiny town in Iowa. I was extremely torn between following in my father’s footsteps and pursuing a career as a physician or taking my chances in the much less stable world of art. It was for this reason that I selected a liberal arts school where I could fully explore both options. Ultimately I decided to take a chance on my artistic talent and I graduated Summa Cum Laude with degrees in Fine Arts and Spanish. To clarify, my Fine Arts degree is centered around drawing and painting. Photography was not a medium that was offered in the Fine Arts Department while I was studying at Luther College.
What do you do for a living? Is this always what you had planned to be doing?
I own a photography studio in Wausau, Wisconsin where I specialize in portraiture. I work primarily with seniors in high school, corporate clients and newborns. What makes my work unique is my passion for precise lighting and my attention to detail. I did not always plan to be a photographer as I have always had a great interest in medicine as well as the arts. For a long while I was very interested in pursuing a career in medical illustration but after a serious injury and several surgeries to my right wrist, I knew I would not be able to rely on my hands for a living. It was at this time that I picked up a camera as a creative outlet.
What are your hobbies?
Running my own business means that I have very limited time outside of the studio. In my free time I enjoy oil painting, figure skating, dancing the Argentine tango, and taking my dog to the park where he loves to fetch.
What are you the most passionate about?
In my work, I am very passionate about capturing the essence of the subject in front of my camera. I do not just like to capture pretty images rather I strive to allow the viewer to be able to see into my subject and take away something about their character.
Ever since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with the arts and specifically portraiture. Every medium I experiment with ends up returning to the human face. I began drawing portraits when I was 13 and progressed to painting from there. After my injury, photography became my primary medium. The camera offers me the confidence to strike up conversation with people whom I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise. When people see my work I want them to feel integrated into the images so that they may feel and relate to whatever emotion is pulsing through the subject. I wish to demonstrate the similarity of the human being that lies within each of us that transcends differences in race, religion and gender, making us global citizens of our planet. Behind each of my photographs lies an emotional narrative that offers the viewer the responsibility of discovering and understanding. I make it my challenge to portray for the viewer an in-depth description of each subject that cannot be expressed as eloquently in words.
What/who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by those who embrace their gifts and talents and put them to use to make the world a better, more beautiful place. I am also inspired by individuals who are willing to go against the grain and are unafraid of following their own heart and path regardless of potential judgement by others.
What is your personal mantra?
A mantra that has come back to me over and over in life, especially throughout the past three years as a business owner, is the importance of focusing your time and energy on what you are good at and surrounding yourself with positive people who are skilled in your areas of weakness. For example, I know that I am very skilled at creative concepts, photographing individuals and presenting my clients with final images they will love. On the other hand, working with finances is not and never will be one of my strengths. For that reason, I do not waste the time I could be spending exercising my talents and furthering my business wading through financial statements and floundering through tax information that I don’t begin to understand. Instead, I allow the four individuals who work with my finances to do what they are great at, saving myself a lot of time and strife in the long run. In the end, they provide me with the big picture information, which is more than enough for me to wrap my head around. This mantra comes in handy time and time again and I contribute much of my success to this way of thinking. There is simply not enough time in my life to try and be the master of everything so while I love to continue learning and growing, it is often best to let go and trust those around me to utilize the skills they have been blessed with.
Has life taken unexpected turns? And if so what were they?
When I think of the phrase “unexpected turns” I tend to think of negative changes. That being said, I have had my fair share of positive unexpected turns in my life. The first unexpected life event was my wrist injury. It forced me to quit the majority of the activities I was involved in and derailed one of my primary career aspirations. That being said, it introduced me to a variety of new activities and life experiences I would not have otherwise had the time to explore. Furthermore, I was forced to take up a new creative outlet which ultimately became my career path.
Another unexpected turn came when I was offered an internship in NYC with fashion/celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. I interviewed with the studio immediately following my junior year of college and was told they would consider me for a position after graduating the following spring. However, just a few weeks before the start of my senior year, I was offered a position that would coincide with my fall semester. I had to immediately make the decision to either drop out of college for the semester or to give up/attempt to postpone the NYC experience. I ultimately decided it was not an opportunity I was willing to miss out on and spent an amazing six months working under one of the top photographers in the world. It was a scary and very unexpected change to the plans I had made for myself but it couldn’t have been a more transformational experience.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
The best piece of advice I have been given is to embrace myself. I am a fairly eccentric and quirky individual and it took many years to feel comfortable enough to let those outside of my immediately family know and understand me. Only in the last few years have I been willing to not only accept but love my quirks and idiosyncrasies and be willing to share all of myself with those around me.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
In my life I have never had difficulty achieving. Once I put my mind to something I make it happen. In school I was forever labeled the “overachiever” and prided myself on being the top of the class throughout my educational career. That being said, the social aspect of life has never come easily to me. Time and time again I have missed out on social opportunities because I was too focused on improving and achieving. This could not have been more true than throughout my college years. I wish I would have strived for a better balance between work and social life. I wish I had put down my textbooks more frequently and spent more time sledding on caf trays, sunbathing on the library lawn with friends and simply embracing life with those around me even at the expense of a few percentage points on upcoming exams.