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Industry Interview: Sequoia Emmanuelle

Posted on 23 October 2015

Sequoia Emmanuelle is best known as a fashion photographer, but the Los Angeles based artist is also a fashion stylist, set and fashion designer and has had her work published in some of the world's greatest fashion magazines. We took some time out to talk with Sequoia about perks of the job, working with big names and her latest photography book.


For those who are unfamiliar with your work, tell us a little bit about your approach to photography

I am very hands on and have a lot to do with the production of my images. As well as being a photographer, I have other skills which I apply to my photography style and art direction, such as painting, set design,fashion design, interior design, styling and concept design.  I enjoy being able to put all of my passions together in photography.


How did you get into the business?

I come from a family of artists, and I am heavily influenced from a unique upbringing. I started painting, wearing costumes, sewing, modelling and taking photographs as a young child, with my parents. Photography and Art have been a part of me for my whole life, so really there has never been any other choice of what I would do in my life career wise. I am obsessed with photography and art.

You've worked with so many big names and celebrities! Which have been the most interesting to work with?

It's impossible to choose any favorite people or shoots, because they are all so unique and special in their own ways. Some of my favorite shoots are the ones that are highly stylized and experimental. I enjoy it most when my model trusts me, and let's me guide them through the shoot. The more ease and trust, the better the results. Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique is a great example of someone who I have worked with for years, that has a strong vision herself, but is always open to collaboration and experimenting with me. I would say the same for Raja Gemini. Raja is an incredible artist, but we can play together on a shoot. I recently shot the band "Empire of the Sun", which hasn't been released yet. I would say it was one of the best shoots and funnest experiences ever! I cannot tell you about it yet, because it's top secret, you'll have to wait for that one.

Your work inspires a lot of people. Who would you say are your personal influences or icons that you draw inspiration from?

Thank you. There is nothing better than knowing I am inspiring people with my work, in the same way I am inspired by others. There are so many amazing people in this world that I look up to, but I always go to David LaChappelle as one of my first loves. Annie Leibovitz, Nick Knight and Steven Klein just to name a few. I love music, and always drew inspiration from Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson as a kid. As the years have gone by, my taste is eclectic, but I still always feel inspired by how music inspires the world and brings together performance art, story telling, dance, fashion and photography. 

What is the best piece of advice you've ever recieved, and do you have any advice to give to budding artists?

Never give up and never stop growing. My best advice is to dedicate and commit yourself to whatever you want to do. It takes everyday focus and attention and time. There is no right way to do something, each person will have a different pathway towards their goals, so try not to compare yourself to others. Enjoy the journey and try not to expect a timeline of when things will happen for you. It will all come in time and there will forever be opportunities. As long as you are doing what you love, that's all that matters. 

What do you wish there was more of within the photography industry?

I wish there was more heart and less shallow behaviour. That's one thing about the fashion and photography industry I see that I don't like. It can be a catty world full of ego. I'd like to see more humility. 

You've recently released your first photography book. Tell us a little bit about this project.

"Duende" is a 286 page coffee table book, the word meaning "The mysterious power of art to deeply move a person". It showcases 13 years of my work on my generation of artists, musicians and fashion. My fans helped me raise money through Kickstarter and by doing so helped me to complete a long time dream of mine to publish a photography book.

To view or purchase Sequoia's book, click here. You can also follow sequoia on
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, or view her portfolio of work on her
official website here.

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