NOUN | ˈempəTHē | the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
ADJECTIVE | ˌin(t)ərˈnaSH(ə)n(ə)l | existing, occurring, or carried on between two or more nations.
VERB |/əmˈpou(ə)r/ | make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.
ADJECTIVE | ˈyo͞oˈnīt | come or bring together for a common purpose or action.
Advocate. Photographer. Documenter. Creator.
Emily Frazier is a traveling humanitarian and wedding photographer. Weddings have been a source of joy and learning for Emily the past five years. She prioritizes capturing the joy in family, marriage, and celebration through her galleries to couples. However, her passion lies in the telling of true stories to shed light on the strength and resilience of those lost in the margins. She believes in humanizing big stats by documenting stories and the realities of heavy topics and politicized issues. She hopes to capture emotion, culture, and truth in her images.
Growing up in Izmir, Turkey, Emily had an early exposure to people and cultures from all over the world. After moving to the United States in 2011, Emily began pursuing her passion for photography professionally at the age of 16. Her empathy and love for people was crafted wandering through streets in Turkey, and now she continues to travel to far places and challenging contexts. You’ll likely find her in deep conversation with a stranger or editing photos in the midst of long airport days (or both!). Emily has a ready backpack, a camera in hand, and a passion to capture the human spirit.
One of the craziest experiences of my life happened in 2017. I was alone in my room having a meltdown while trying to collect that year's "best" wedding photos. All I could see was bad coloring, lack of emotion, and less-than-impressive creativity. The year prior I was ecstatic to upload my newest portfolio work to my website; there were colorful, lively, beautiful images. However in 2017, I had battled with my passion for humanitarian photography and my career in wedding photography. They seemed like such opposing fields. I felt like the Lord had given me a desire in vain, as I looked over the years of photography I had done, and saw nothing in line with "my dream job" or "deepest passion" in capturing cause and crisis. I realized in that moment that I had been so consumed by the lack of humanitarian opportunities, that my wedding photography had been compromised. Compromised at least by my personal standards. All my clients were happy and satisfied, however I felt unengaged and unmotivated. The "why" behind what I did wasn't there - the drive to push myself creatively wasn't there. While I sat on my floor (sobbing), I knew to be the photographer, the creator, and really the person the Lord wanted me to be, I had to surrender my agenda and timeline. Honestly, I had not realized I had been white-knuckle-clenching-it for years. I told the Lord I was willing - willing to stay in Memphis my whole life, willing to go around the world - willing to be a wedding photographer all my days - or to be a humanitarian photographer all of my days - to do his work AND do it on his timeline. Whatever it was. Trust me, this process from realization to prayer was hours.
That night I booked a last minute October wedding. AND THEN within 30 minutes I got a call from World Relief's Memphis Office pitching the idea of a photo exhibit for the November dinner capturing stories of resettled refugees in the city. I wept in awe, and had no idea how to process the perspective shift that took place. That's when I started calling myself a wedding AND humanitarian photographer because, right now, I'm both. The "why" has been restored. I do this for the Lord. I do this to empathize and empower. I do this in joy.
The photos below are the images that are my absolute favorite I've EVER taken. They each hold a place in my heart that has impacted the way I photograph people. It wasn't hard to choose because these are the photos I think about when I have to restore my "why." These are the photos that make me feel like I'm back there in the moment.