Emma Desira

Based in Sydney, Emma is a photographer dedicated to mentoring others and nurturing their creativity.
Photograph by Emma Desira, Collective Ambassador
The Canon Collective is a group of passionate photography Ambassadors dedicated to helping you grow your skills in a relaxed, down-to-earth environment. In this article Emma Desira— one of our Sydney-based Canon Collective Ambassadors — shares a bit about what makes her tick.


Landscape image of sand dunes


Describe yourself in 25 words or less:

Talkative, cheesy, creative, perfectionist, patient.

Tell us about your photography journey so far:
I don’t have that heart-felt story about following the family photographer around as a kid and knowing from a young age that I wanted to be a photographer. I don’t even remember many photos being taken as a kid. Yet today I have albums and boxes of photographs carefully chronicling the childhoods of my siblings and I, so I know that even if I don’t remember being around the camera as a child I know that my mum carefully documented precious memories through photography.

In all honesty, my first memory of me picking up a camera wasn’t until year 10, when I took up photography to avoid going to school sports. If you didn’t have a subject on Tuesday afternoon school sport was compulsory, so I decided I’d take up another subject. My options were Community & Family studies or Photography. I’d always been creative and loved art, so I thought 'how much harder could photography be?'

black and white image of a Birds eye view of people

I spent a year studying photography every Tuesday afternoon, and at that point I still had no attachment to photography. I was actually a great drawer and a budding painter. I would spend hours at a time with charcoal in my hand, but couldn't comprehend how pushing the button on a camera could correspond to art. Boy how my opinion's since changed…

I’ve since formally trained… twice, and a camera's within arm's length of me most days. I spent two years working every photography job I could get my hands on to work out what I liked, and what I didn’t like. I started working with the Canon Collective with a 6-month temporary contract, which was 3 years ago now.

Share the story behind one of your most memorable photographs:

Landscape image of Namibia

Well, there are a few that spring to mind, I still remember the exact image that made me switch my paint brushes to film; slaving away in the darkroom crafting prints, I remember the first print that I absolutely nailed. I remember the first image I ever took on my first full frame camera and then there’s the image that won me my APPA gold award.

But this one from Namibia leaves me with goose bumps every time I look at it, mostly because it recalls just an incredible feeling and experience. The site is like nothing else I could ever describe, to be standing amongst something so phenomenally beautiful, so peaceful, and so tranquil, you can almost hear your heart beating. The image just doesn’t do it justice.

Explain your go-to gear and why you rate it so highly:

Hands down the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt Shift Lens.
It’s different and unique, an incredible piece of glass, and mechanically pretty impressive. It suits so much of what I shoot and the style I’ve developed.
When I’m shooting architecture it keeps my lines perfectly straight and distortion free, the shift functionality is also great for accentuating those big skies when I’m shooting landscapes. I also like the novelty of the miniature mode every now and then, particularly when I’m up high. I’ve also come to love the 24mm perspective.

It’s now my go-to lens and on my camera most of the time.

Camera-wise, the EOS-1Dx Mark II is mind blowing, but my little hands prefer the EOS 5D Mark IV for a big day of shooting.

What's your favourite part of your job as a Canon Collective Ambassador?:
The people make it for me.

I’ve also got a teaching background, so love being apart of those lightbulb moments, and helping people along their photographic journey.

landscape image of the city

If you weren't a Canon Collective Ambassador what would you be doing?
I'd be a hair model or professional traveller.
On a serious note, I’d be writing for a museum or gallery.

What's the first thing a new photographer needs to learn?
It’s not about luck, it’s about hard work. And the devil's in the details.

Astrogphotography image Namibia

Who inspires you?

The photographic community in general — man, there’s some great work out there… it keeps me on my toes and wanting more.
I also love Modern Art.

Where is your favourite location to shoot and why?
It’s usually the next place I’m going…
I love the challenge of shooting somewhere I’ve never been, and the pressures to go home with a decent shot; I’m both learning the lay of the land and watching the light change.

landscape image of sand dunes

You can create one more image before you die – what is it of?
Every now and then I have this reoccurring dream, it’s way too vivid for my liking and plays on my fears. It’s the sort of dream you would rather forget, the sort that wakes you from your sleep.

I’d like to recreate a scene from this dream as a photographic still. I guess I’ve put it off because there’s a sense of vulnerability and confrontation associated with the shot, but at the same time I’m incredibly attracted to the shot, beyond the theatrics and the narrative I think it would be very cathartic.