Trendsetter to Know: Emily Vance of the Masked Portrait Project

Name: Emily Vance 

Twitter: @emilydillvance


Instagram: @emilydillvance


Age: 28

Title: Photographer 

Married/Single: Married 

Kids: 0

City you live in: Chandler 

A typical day in my life includes… A typical day in my life includes juggling dogs, school, work, and making sure I get to spend time with my family. And coffee, LOTS of coffee. 

I was born… I was born to be an artist. Truthfully, there is nothing else in the world I would choose to be doing. Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to be an artist. I am so happy I didn’t listen to all of the people that told me there was no future in art. 

My favorite thing about Arizona… Sunshine! I was raised in the PNW and could never imagine myself living in the desert until we visited a few years ago. The moment the plane landed I knew we were home. 

I’m listening to… Most days you can find me listening to True Crime podcasts while working. My current favorite is “Wine & Crime” on Spotify. 

My family… I have learned over the years that we really can create our own version of family. While the relationship with many of my biological family members hasn’t always been the best, the amazing friends I have in my life truly make up for it. And truthfully, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love the family we have created. And without the support from my Mom I know I wouldn’t be where I am today. She is truly so inspiring and has taught me so much about life. The best advice my mom ever gave me was, “Your parents aren’t always right. Eventually you just need to start living your own life.” For some reason that has really stuck with me over the years. 

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be… Hmmmm that’s a tricky one. There are so many people I would love to have dinner with. But I’ll go ahead and take a less traditional approach and say Hermione Granger.  

One thing I cannot live without… Other than my camera and family I would have to say coffee. Seriously, I can’t make it through the day without coffee. 

When I was younger, I wanted to be… Oh gosh, where do I even begin, I always wanted to be an artist. But along with that there was a time I wanted to be a doctor, a singer, and a pastry chef. 

I’m inspired by… I have always been inspired by “real” emotions. I always try to capture that in my work whether it be joy or sadness. I also have always been inspired by bright colors and try to use my photography to give back to my community. 

The one person who motivates me is… My husband. He has always been my biggest supporter and is truly my best friend. He has pushed me to follow my dreams, live life to the fullest, and has encouraged me to finish my degree – even after the eleven years it has taken. 

If I could change anything in the world, it would be… I wish people could just stop for a second and think “what can I do to make the world a better place?” I know it sounds cheesy, but a little bit of kindness goes a long way. We really do need more love and kindness in the world. 

The perfect day would be… Exploring old ghost towns with my camera and a few friends. 

My first job was… While I was always the kid picking up odd jobs here and there (lemonade stands, pet sitting, etc.) my first “real” job was working as a barista. I ended up working at Starbucks for over 10 years. That is where I met many of the people I now consider family and how my husband and I met! 

My favorite escape… I LOVE reading. I am counting down the days until I graduate so I can make more time for reading. I love mystery novels and alternate history. 

My life… My life is nothing that I would have ever imagined, but so much better than I ever could have dreamed of. I am living my life with my best friend and we are both truly living our best life. It isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but just watching how far we have come over the past few years is absolutely crazy! 

I’m currently working on… The Masked Portrait Project! It is a series I started in the early days of the pandemic to spread the message of the importance of masking up. I’m also finishing up my last two semesters of school! #ForksUp 

Always… Take time to rest. Seriously, always feel like I need more hours in a day to do everything I want and need to do. However, listen to your body and rest when you are tired. If not, you will burn out and lose your drive. I mainly speak to other artists here, but this applies to everyone. 

Never… Never give up. Again, I know it sounds super cheesy – but if something is calling you listen to your gut and don’t stop. 

Favorite Quote… ““Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” -Cecil Beaton (I love it so much I have it tattooed on my foot!) 

Biggest Dream… I have always joked I want to be named a “30 under 30.” I have no idea for exactly what, I am sure something art related, but I saw it on a billboard once and I wanted it. I want it so badly I have been manifesting it for years. I even have my speech written out for when I accept the title. Just over a year and a half to go to make it happen. Crossing my fingers and toes! 

My Pet Peeve(s)… Messes. While I have an artistic and often chaotic brain, I hate messes. I am a true Gemini, I have my artistic side but also my super tidy and organized side as well. 

More About the Masked Portrait Project:
With the current state of the world, I have been really struggling to figure out a way to give back to my community. I have always tried to use my work as a way to help others, and lately, that just hasn’t been happening. Finally, the idea came to me. I am a major supporter of wearing masks to protect others and I believe that doing so, even when it is hot and uncomfortable, is a way to show kindness, compassion, and love. By creating The Masked Portrait Project, my hope was to show that wearing a mask doesn’t have to be sad or depressing. In fact, it really can be the opposite. Wearing a mask is one of the easiest ways to spread kindness and that is something that should be highlighted and celebrated. 

If you are located in the Valley and interested in scheduling a masked portrait project session, please email me at Proceeds from every TMPP session go to the Navajo Nation Covid-19 Relief Fund. 

Not local? Want to shoot and share your own? No problem! Connect with the community on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtag #TheMaskedPortraitProject so we can share your work! 


Facebook Page:

Facebook Group: The Masked Portrait Project,

Instagram: @themaskedportraitproject

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