As Emily Berger completed her final semester of the photography program, she vowed, challenging as it may be in the working world, never to lose sight of her passion for creating art. This inner-drive has inspired her own photography and motivated her to find ways of promoting Detroit’s community of artists.
“It’s challenging to graduate, get a job and still maintain a passion for your work,” admitted Berger. “When you're at CCS, your work is everything - the most important aspect of your life. It’s hard to maintain that excitement and that drive to produce work once you've graduated and moved into a different realm of the art world.
“Of course, you don't realize this when you're in school … But you look at the people who've experienced it after graduation and think, ‘that won't be me!’ As I prepared to enter the next stage of my life, my career, I made a conscious decision to combat this problem – to work hard at maintaining my drive to work on art. It almost makes it more rewarding, when you know you've done it for the love of art.”
Berger’s photography is a blend of fashion meets fine art infused with playful applications of light and color (when the concept calls for it). Her work has been displayed at the Majestic Café, Madonna University and White Wall Gallery, a temporary gallery she oversaw in Hamtramck, Mich.
“The fashion work that I do has a fine-art photography concept and undertone with a theme or aesthetic that could easily be considered as a fine art photograph as well,” Berger explained. “I actually wrote my thesis on this trend in the fashion photography world and have been practicing it ever since.”
Since accepting a position with Mindfield Pictures, a full-service film and video production company in Detroit, Berger has balanced her freelance photography with the demands of a full-time job.
“I do a little bit of everything and am learning a lot about production,” said Berger. “It’s really great to be in an environment that encourages creativity and the Detroit creative class. There needs to be more companies like Mindfield – that will be dedicated to the city and continue to be located here. This has been such a learning experience. I’m doing things I never would have imagined doing a year ago.”
In 2007, Berger founded an online blog (http://whitewallcollective.blogspot.com/) in hopes of promoting the talents of local photographers and strengthening the Detroit art scene. The blog provides a space, both online and through temporary gallery spaces, for artists to show their work. It also includes updated information on contests, openings and shows.
“I started the blog because I recognized the need for one more strengthening element in the Detroit art scene,” Berger said. “The community needs all the excitement it can get. There’s a lot of great work out there but the city doesn't often get enough recognition for the photography being done here.
“I felt a certain responsibility to Detroit art to be part of the solution, to focus on the positive and work toward really great things. The response to my efforts has been really great, especially when I opened the gallery. I met amazing people that I didn’t even know were working in the city. It was really exciting.”
The blog has been featured in Metro Times and detroitfashionpages.com.
Berger credits CCS with preparing her for both a career as an artist and life as a successful professional. Her eyes were opened to the local art scene as she participated in an internship with Nancy Barr, associate curator of graphic arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
“Going through a challenging art school definitely prepared me to work really hard wherever I went, or at whatever I was doing,” said Berger. “I also think that the experience makes you see things differently—everything becomes art, everything can be affected by creativity. Visual aesthetic affects everything I do, and I definitely think that that's an effect of being surrounded by creativity for four years.”
- Graduation Year: 2007
- Major: Photography
- Employer: Freelance/Mindfield Pictures
- Title: Photographer/Founder of whitewallcollective.blogspot.com
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