Emily White – High Water

Review by Douglas Stockdale •

Emily White utilizes large format photographic equipment in conjunction with alternative photographic technics to investigate an urban and its bordering natural landscapes. There is an undercurrent of mystery, as though something is being haunted, in the dark moody body of work that White exhibited in her first solo show with Candela Gallery, which resulted in this demurely printed exhibition monograph.

As a practitioner of solar cyanotype printing, another alternative photographic methodology, I am learning how these inexact historical techniques also lend themselves to creating unexpected outcomes. Nevertheless, over time, a personal understanding develops in working with the natural atmospheric elements and the alternative photographic chemistry in how certain results might occur. It is a personal decision as to how one accepts the ensuing results, in how a ’failure’, e.g. something unexpected or different, might become a more revealing and evocative image. It is allowing oneself to be open to chance and serendipity, which appears evident in White’s monograph.

She mixes poetic black and white images of nature with those of the urban landscape, both have an underlying element of mystery. Her artistic tempo is slowed by the attributes of her photographic process. This monograph also appears to be a study of looking carefully at the ordinary and how light can play an important part in her resulting artwork.

For her exhibition she states This exhibition came at a time when I was experiencing a creative transition away from literal imagery, towards more experiential and experimental notions. It felt important to acknowledge from where I come creatively, which is from traditional darkroom work, as well as share the direction that I am following presently.

The photographic images illustrated in this slim volume have ample white margins and the layout has a hint of non-conformity that feels consistent with the body of work. In reading this monograph, everything appears ‘normal’ while the subtle underlying shift in cadence and visual flow is just off enough to create a mild discomfort, as does White’s evocative photographs. An example of how simplicity can lead to an understated elegance for an exhibition catalog and likewise, provide a complementary reading of White’s body of work.


Douglas Stockdale is an artist and the Senior Editor/founder, PhotoBook Journal


 High Water, Emily White

Photographer: Emily White, born Bremo Bluff, VA and residing in Richmond, VA

Publisher: Candela Books + Gallery, Richmond, VA, copyright 2021

Essay: Introduction, Emily White

Text: English

Stiffcover, with embossed French-fold dust jacket, saddle stitch, 11 x 8 ½” (vertical format)  signed and numbered edition of 100 & printed by BambooInk, Richmond, VA

Photobook Designer: Ashby Nickerson


Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are copyright of the authors and publishers.

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