Emily Dozois is an eighteen year old photographer from Ontario, Canada.
She is known mostly for her conceptual self-portraits that are mainly inspired by her struggles with a sever lung disease. At the age of fifteen, Emily discovered photography and the artistic freedoms it gave her to express the troubles that she faces on a daily basis in a healthy way.
Since then, Emily has not stopped creating with the hopes that her images can inspire others to do the same.
An Interview with Emily
Q. When is your birthday?
A. I was born on March 13th, 1996.
Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?
A. On my sixteenth birthday I booked a hotel suite with three friends and my brother, John. I live in a small town, so being in the city is always an adventure in itself, but having my friends with me made it even more special. We went out for burgers, swam in the pool until it closed, and slept in the same bed because no one wanted to move, (except John of course). The exhaustion that lingered for days afterward was well worth it.
Q. How about your worst? And why?
A. My worst memory of a birthday actually has nothing to do with my birthday at all. It was the day my little brother, John, turned thirteen. I was in the hospital, where I had recently been released from intensive care because of an extreme asthma flare-up. My parents and three siblings came to see me, and they smuggled a cake in with them. I felt awful that I had inadvertently stolen the spotlight on what should have been my brothers special day.
Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?
A. I think the most important part of celebrating a birthday is staying true to yourself. If you love socializing and any excuse to party, then invite all your friends to celebrate with you. If you’re an introvert who would much rather relax with a few special people or no one at all, then do that. It shouldn’t be up to anyone else what you decide to do on your birthday.
Q. Do you/your family have a tradition/rituals/ceremonies to celebrate birthdays? What is it?
A. Birthday season lasts for months in my family, so celebrations tend to be merged with others. We don’t really have time for any elaborate traditions, other than the cake of course!
Q. What is your life motto?
A. “This too shall pass.” I believe that no matter what you are going through, there is always a way that you can get through it. I have survived countless hardships, but each one has made me stronger and given me the tools I need to fight whatever battles I might come across.
Q. What/Whom drives you to keep going and why?
A. I have had lung problems for my entire life. As a child, doctors thought I was suffering from normal childhood asthma. It became clear as I got older though that this was not the case. My lungs continued to worsen, it became more and more difficult to breathe, and there were fewer and fewer treatments to try. Luckily, when I was fourteen my lung specialist agreed to try a treatment that is usually targeted towards rheumatoid arthritis. Since then, I have gone to the hospital for three days in a row once a month to be treated. Though I have not been in the hospital nearly as often and it is easier for me to breathe, I have now developed osteoporosis and had a surgery to implant a port-a-cath, yet I still believe it is worth the risk.
Through all of this I have learned that nothing in life is guaranteed. I don’t know if I will build up an immunity to the treatments. I don’t know if I will end up in intensive care tomorrow. The uncertainty and fear that I have dealt with throughout my life has taught me to live each day as if it were my last. That is what drives me to keep going, no matter what.
Q. If you could change one and only one thing – big or small – what would it be?
A. I had a very hard time deciding how to answer this question. Most of my friends and family answered; “Well, your lungs, right?” I realized that what was holding me back from that answer was the fact that I am afraid to wish for something that I know will never come true. By thinking about all the things that are ‘wrong’ in my life and out in the world, I realize just how many circumstances are out of our control. So I suppose, the answer to this question for me is not what I wish I could change, but rather that I wish I could change things, period.
Q. Which photographers have influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing and career path?
A. I am constantly influenced by photos, even those that seem the most simple. There are so many photographers that have changed the way I see the world that I could never name them all. I was lucky enough to meet a few of my influences in the summer of 2014. Sarah Ann Loreth, Shane Black, Joel Robison, and Rob Woodcox, (also known as The Wild Ones), taught a workshop in Toronto that I was fortunate enough to attend. Although I would never be able to pick the most influential photographers in my life, they are definitely among the top. After following their work for years online, meeting them in person was incredibly surreal. I am so fortunate to now be able to work with Joel and so many other talented artists in this book.
Q. What motivates you to continue to take photographs?
A. I am inspired by the lyrics of songs, dreams, tree branches moving with the wind, children, the way light falls through a window, the interactions of humans and nature, sidewalk cracks, and everything in between. Most of all though, I am inspired by the people who look at my photos and pull meaning from them, sometimes before I even find it myself. The beauty of everything around me and fact that my art can inspire others to create their own is what most motivates me to take photographs.
Q. Why did you agree to participate in The Birthday Book Project?
A. I was honoured to be chosen to participate in this project, because I love the idea that our birthdays mean more in our lives than “that day that we eat cake and open gifts”. I am so happy to be working with so many talented artists to explore the similarities and differences between 366 different people.
Q. What do you expect to accomplish through your participation in The Birthday Book Project?
A. I am hoping to grow as an artist and also to make more connections in the art world and outside of it. Through this project I hope to develop friendships with all the lovely photographers I have the honour of working with, as well as meeting and getting to know new people as I photograph them for the project.