Emma Noelle Buhain is a photographer from Manila, Philippines, currently studying Art History and Visual Arts at Barnard College in New York City. Working in the tradition of personal documentary photography, Buhain produces vulnerable portraits of both her family in Manila and her chosen “family” in New York, often in nature or the intensely personal space of home. Although two distinct sets of photographs, taken together Buhain’s photos of family and friends highlight the emotional continuities and disconnects between these two forms of intimacy. Her work combines a sense of comfort and tenderness with undercurrents of unease and pain, drawing out the tensions inherent in the interconnected experiences of religious faith and the legacy of colonialism.
Written by Inga Manticas
Emma Noelle is an artist and analog photographer who lives and works in New York City. She grew up in Manila and moved to Manhattan as a teenager. Emma is a student at Barnard College where she is pursuing a BA in art history and the visual arts. She began her practice at the age of 15 with a self-published monograph entitled Visions of Manila. Emma has photographed for Manila-based Scout Magazine and the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Her work has been published in online and print platforms such as Adolescent Content, Hoot Magazine, Mythos Magazine, and Ratrock Magazine. Emma’s current artistic practice consists of portraiture and documentary photography, as well as black and white darkroom printing.
Emma's photographic work is an exploration of the omnipresence of duality. Her photographs are reflective of her experience of life and latent spirituality as she moves between the two worlds of Manila and New York. In Manila, Noelle takes intimate and personal photographs of her family, and she documents the religious mysticism that pervades the cities she grew up in. In New York, she turns her lens towards her close friends while documenting the surreal elements of life in the city. Through her art, she seeks to reconcile the parts of her identity that are informed and transformed by the contrasting beauty of Manila and Manhattan.