Her beautiful hobby: Emilia Van Ert’s exploration of art through photography



Emilia Van Ert attracts positive feedback on her Facebook page from her artwork. Little do people know that she has only started editing pictures not too long ago.

Van Ert, a 21-year-old junior from Chamberlain, is an art major student with an emphasis on photography. She has been taking pictures for weddings, family photos, people portraits, and Augustana’s yearbook, the EDDA.

“The artistic photography that I do is usually for hobby, because I am not in photography class anymore,” Van Ert said. “When I was in that class, it would be for that.”

Now, Van Ert usually uploads her artwork on Facebook and catches feedbacks and “likes.”

Though it may not seem so, Van Ert has only been doing photography and Photoshop since her freshman and sophomore year of college, respectively.


Van Ert learned how to use Adobe Photoshop when she took a digital photography class her sophomore year with former Augustana professor Jayne Erickson.

“I remember when she was a student in my introduction to photography

 class,” Erickson said. “She consistently took risks with subject matter and conceptual ideas. She knows how to craft a story in a two-dimensional space.”

Furthermore, Erickson said that Van Ert is passionate and hardworking. She is the “kind of student every professor wants to have in the classroom.”

Van Ert usually starts her artwork process by translating the image she has in her mind onto paper. She then photographs the model, a process which takes anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.

The editing process, however, takes about three to four hours. Even though it takes most of her time, Van Ert enjoys editing pictures on Adobe Photoshop.

“I love Photoshop. I’m just a geek; I love it. I just find it amazing,” Van Ert said. “And there are so many things to do with Photoshop. I learn things all the time.”

Besides learning new Adobe Photoshop tools and effects every time she produces artworks, Van Ert also collaborates with her family and friends to create new concept and ideas of photography.

Her twin sister, Lizzie Van Ert, helps Emilia Van Ert by modeling for her or doing makeup for her other models. Lizzie said that helping her sister is “a lot of fun and a good experience overall.”

One of Lizzie Van Ert’s favorite collaborations is a profile picture of Lizzie herself. The picture is black, white and simple, yet captures the emotion of Van Ert’s twin sister.

Erickson agrees that this picture is also one of her favorite works by Van Ert.

“Graphic and clean, the image is mostly high key with lots of white space.” Erickson commented. “We see lightly the structure of the face, but the dark eyes with large catch lights in the pupils engage the viewer immediately.”

Van Ert collaborated with Josiah Nwokoro for her most recent artwork, “Genesis.” Nwokoro and Van Ert exchanged ideas and thoughts in creating the picture.

“I feel like I will be collaborating with her a lot near the future,” Nwokoro said. “I brought some ideas to the table. We see what works, and we see what fits.”

Even though she likes to collaborate with her family and friends, Van Ert’s personal favorite is her blackbird self-portrait collection.

“I like my blackbird series a lot, because it’s more personal,” Van Ert said. She was inspired by the abstract blackbird painting in a magazine her father brought home one day. The painting speaks to her and is connected to one of her favorite songs, “Blackbird,” by The Beatles.

Although Van Ert receives positive feedback most of the time, she has received negative comments and had rough times in the process of creating artwork.

“It can be very frustrating,” Van Ert said. “Especially when I don’t have the resources I want to create the image I’m picturing.”

Van Ert has had people comment harshly on her pictures. Van Ert believes that she needs to have a thick skin, and takes these criticisms to make her work better in the future.

“I’m happy that I’m still getting a response from my photos, even if it’s sometimes negative,” Van Ert said. “That means they felt something when they looked at it, and I still have a lot to improve on with my photos, too.”