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Updated: Jun 14, 2023


A chat with Luz Bergersen, Norway

Photography by Grace Emmelot

As a creative, my photographs and artistic expressions are usually the product of a plethora of events, feelings, and memories that I accumulate through the years. My Filipino heritage has a significant impact on my attitude, work, and aspirations, as it does all Filipinos across the world. I feel it will always be embedded in some forms, evident in all our work, even if we are so distant from home. I think it is important to uphold to the admirable values that we have inherited. As Filipinos, I believe we all have this innate desire to see our motherland completely enjoy the independence and a better life that we all sought for so long.

GRACE ORBON EMMELOT, Filipina photographer, resident in Norway was a featured artist at the Philippine Embassy in Oslo art exhibition entitled HALF CIRCLES. The exhibit was supposed to last for a month, but Grace’s work stayed there for about five months.

Currently working as a registered free lance photographer in Norway, Grace Orbon-Emmelot, has an impressive professional background in her field. She has wide experience in different genres of photography, multi-media graphic design, teaching, project management and events. Grace is passionate about documentary, film and creative endeavours. She is an avid portrait photographer and an avid virtual stroryteller.

In a recent chat with Rawmags, Grace reveals about HALF CIRCLES.

Grace Emmelot: HALF CIRCLES means finding your own space in the world. It means completing my own circle for me. I began my journey as an artist/photographer in my homeland and now navigating perhaps the other half of the journey in a new home in Norway. The Half Circles exhibition is a migration journey of sorts, complex and nuanced, with the excitement of arriving in your new homeland and the loneliness of being apart from what you left behind.

The exhibition showcased a collection of my visual narratives and distinct flavors of people and places throughout the Philippines as seen through my lens. It is an ode to the nostalgia of HOME. The curated picks are my way to connect and disconnect the pieces of my thoughts from the multitude of experiences and memories accumulated in my homeland.

The goal of the introspection is for the audience to walk away from this space with a hint of reminiscence as well as to relate to the immense courage of immigrants who have moved across the globe. Through this exhibit, I aim to reach out and collaborate with fellow artists and photographers by creating a common ground for organizing workshops in the field of arts and photography, best practice sharing, online forums, and photo walks, as well as help organize local exhibitions for other artists too.

Please tell us briefly about your background.

Grace is happy to obliged. My mother is from Polangui, Albay and my father was born in Negros Occidental, but they both grew up in Iriga, Camarines Sur. I was born in San Pablo, Laguna, and grew up in Caloocan until I finished my studies in AB Communication Arts at the University of the East. I worked for more than 2 decades in the corporate world and on the side, kept doing creative endeavors like indie filmmaking, photography, script writing and luckily became one of the Batch 14 workshoppers of writer Ricky Lee, who is now the National Artist for Film and Broadcast Media. But then, But, due to life’s unavoidable circumstances, I pursued my photography instead of writing.

Happily unmarried and solo parenting my 4 kids for many years, I decided to discontinue the corporate life path in 2018 to pursue my real passion in photography. It was a very unpopular decision for a single parent, to become full time freelance photographer and do my own project management. It was a tough and rough decision not to have a fixed income, but I have never been happier when I made that choice.

Pieter Emmelot, my now-husband, and I met in Singapore. He was backpacking in South East Asia, and I was in town for a photo shoot. Our love tale is a fortunate stroke of serendipity as we call it. The subject of photography drew two traveling photographers together. He noticed me taking long exposure (night photography) along Marina Bay and struck up a chat with me. After Singapore, my next destination shoot would be in Jakarta, while he would be in Bali. We agreed to meet again after my shoot, and before I knew it, he had booked a flight to Manila in less than a month to meet me again. The rest, as they say, is history.

My husband is Dutch, and he has been living in Norway for more than a decade. We shared the same passion in photography. We both planned to start our married life in Norway when he proposed to me in the Philippines just 10 months after we met. Moving to Norway was such a huge step for me, since it meant leaving everything behind and beginning a new chapter in my life. As a tribute to love, I named my photography Emmelot Grace Photography. It has shaped a new career route for me.

The exhibit is an interactive virtual photo exhibition. Grace considered displaying the photos in the exhibit only in half to pique the curiosity of visitors to the Embassy. "I want to meet my audience where they are today - online."

To see the other half of the photo, scan QR code.


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