Emily Garthwaite is a 24-year-old British photojournalist and street photographer with a focus on humanitarian and environmental stories. She recently co-directed her first documentary in Iraq on Arba’een, the world's largest annual pilgrimage - attracting over 25 million Shia Muslim pilgrims. In 2018, the Iraq series and documentary are being exhibited in London, France, Italy, and Iran.
Emily graduated with a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of Westminster in late 2016. Her photographs have been featured internationally including her image "Chained to Tradition" selected as a Finalist for Finalist for Wildlife Photographer of The Year in the Photojournalism category.
She is a Member of Street Photography International, a collective of four street photographers who formed with the aim to promote the best Street Photography from around the world. SPi is currently Instagram's fastest growing account for the genre with over 400,000 followers and reaching over 10 million people per month. Street Photography International launched The Street Awards and currently run international Street Photography workshops.
When and why did you become a photographer?
I picked up a camera at the age of 15 and had fun with it. At that point, it was about exploration and researching photographers and painters. I didn't push for a career on photojournalism until a couple of years ago.
You submitted incredible work shot in India. What encouraged you to start a project on India?
I have travelled to India three times over the past few years. The first was to scatter my grandmother’s ashes, during the second I travelled for six months on my own, and I spent my most recent trip with my partner.
India is a country that is, at times, incredibly challenging and I’ve always believed that it’s because of that I’ve continued to return. A Portrait of India is a long-term series that examines daily life and rituals across India.
Walking the streets of a city alone with a camera is a meditation for me. Indian cities are paradoxical environments, allowing everyday scenes to become extraordinary. I always wait for eye contact with a passerby, sometimes it never happens, but the beauty of street life in cities is that the next photo is only moments away.
What is/was your most important project and why?
Most recently I visited Iraq with an Iranian documentary film crew. I was photographing Arba'een, the world's largest annual pilgrimage that attracts 25 million Shia Muslims a year. It encompassed everything I have worked towards over the past couple of years, and I was proud to have been selected as the main subject. I will be exhibiting the work next year and wish to open up a dialogue as to why there is a media blackout surrounding the pilgrimage.
What does photography means to you?
Photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet new people and create art from everyday life.