Photos c/o Keyel Walker & Emma Krieger.
Emari Traffie is a Los Angeles-based fashion, music and commercial photographer. During her four years in the Marine Corps she became a journalist but fell in love with creating imagery. In 2011, she headed back to the east coast and earned her Bachelors degree in Journalism. Upon graduation, she packed up and moved to Hollywood and became a full-time freelance photographer and director.
Growing up I really wanted to be
A figure skater
My go-to order at a coffee shop is
A medium cup of whatever their lightest roast is, black and hot, to go.
I don’t know how I ever lived without
One thing people don’t know about me is
I was in the Marines for four years.
My real life hero is
Do Mary-Kate and Ashley count? I am so serious though. I aspire to reach that level of empress. In real life? My friends and peers for sure. My mom. Dad. Each in their own way.
What I love about my work is
That I LOVE it. I feel like I’m cheating because I get to wake up everyday and do what I love for a living—nothing has ever made more sense.
The hardest thing about my work is
There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do.
The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
I got nervous and rushed.
My typical day looks like
I get a little bored with routines so mine changes all the time, but currently: I wake up around 7:30 and stretch, in bed—giant stretches with loud noises. I like to sleep more than anything so I prolong getting out of bed for way too long. After stretching and meditating, I brush my teeth and then make myself a spirulina/b-complex shot.
At least twice a week, I go for a 2.5 mile run around my Hollywood neighborhood hills, and if I don’t make that happen I do some indoor exercises and then shower. After that, I put on some relaxing music (Nils Frahm lately), and make coffee—the long way—and eggs. At 9 am I settle in for work. I work on emails, edits, social media or web stuff until noon (or until I take a nap) and then typically have a shoot in the afternoon.
I try to sneak in a trip to the Sweetgreen near my house for lunch/dinner. More coffee and back to editing. At this point I move into the living room and put on a movie, podcast or documentary while I do mundane tasks like exports and archiving. Eventually I have to leave for an event of some sort which I usually end up rushing to and doing my makeup in the car. Once home, I do a bedtime routine, tea, face care, teeth care, and read a book until I fall asleep looking forward to another day.
I used to think success meant
People knew who you were.
Now I think success means
Knowing who you are and embracing it.
An example of when I had to push through my insecurities was
When I got out of the military. I had a good, well-paying, secure job and promises of raises, bonuses, promotions and a shot at the dream job within my field. I had to trust that God had plans bigger than mine when I decided to leave the Marines and go to school.
I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I am feeling depressed or anxious. It means I need to slow down a little, be more present, spend more time on my spiritual, physical and mental health. I typically try to get in a “me day” at least once every other week.
The last time I created something I was proud of was
I am pretty proud of any work I put time and effort into. My last shoot was a small lookbook for a clothing brand and I’m actually really stoked about how it came out.
I wish I could tell my younger self
Everything is going to work out. Take things slowly. Pain is only temporary and is always a lesson in strength, patience, wisdom or some other form of virtue that you will need in the future.
The legacy I hope to leave is
One of love. To say that I loved. For those around me to know love, the power of love and the joy of love.