On Photographs. Airports. Meals. Coffee.

I fall in love with people in their small, joyful, candid, raw, beautiful human moments.

I love capturing these small, beautiful, every day moments.


The slant of the sun rays coming through the leaves on a crisp autumn day.

Spaniards languidly chilling along the riverbank and spilling out of cafes during their mid-day siesta.

Parisians rushing to work. How are they always so chic and flawless even in a hurry? 


The pure glee of a child tottering around with their ice cream cone. 

Ah, children. Children are the most pure, joyful and emotive. As we grow older, we are conditioned to “save face” and “blend in," but I wonder how much logic there is in this?

A family finally reunited at the airport.

Airports. How I love airports. Comings and goings and chance encounters. The past few months, I have been living in and out of airports. I love the Lisbon airport the most—So light! So airy! So open! Denmark, I swear, you are the most efficient. Fiucimino Airport in Rome—thank you for letting me sleep overnight, not once but twice. LGA—you are the beautiful, chaotic nightmare I kept coming home to every time I’m back in New York, with your long lines and cool indifference (I never learn). 

I like capturing humans more than landscapes. When I do capture landscapes, I like my landscapes framed in an interesting way.

I love the simple seduction of farmer’s markets. Every time I’m in a new city, I go to their central market. I never grow tired of it. I love the pure ingredients and simplicity in cooking. I like knowing where my food comes from and the family who grows it.

I love showing people the beauty of the natural world, the beauty and awe of being human and fully alive in this world. That there is so much more to love and explore than there is to fear in this world.

I’m explorer by heart—of both internal and external means.

I love working on creative projects with people I love. I’m often drawn towards food and creative lifestyle brands with an eye for aesthetics, a soft spot for storytelling, and a heart for community and social impact. 

Now that I’m older, I love even more that I have a self-care ritual. After four years working in NYC, a city that never stops, my mind was a whirling top. 

I love a good hike, but I love a good bed more.

I love the calm, efficiency, design, and beautiful interiors of Scandinavian and the rambling late night dinners, beaches, siestas and soulful warmth of Southern Europe. I need a mix of both in my life. 

I’d love to live by the sea one day. I love her beauty, vastness, depth and power. For me, the sea is restorative.

I am absolutely a coffee shop and cafe kind of gal. I could sit for hours in a bright, white space, sipping an iced latte, editing and designing, watching people relax, enjoy, laugh and gesture aminatedly over plates of eggs, avocado toast, and bacon. Which is why Brooklyn, Melbourne, Florence, Copenhagen—you are currently my top spots. Someone once told me Melbourne had the best coffee and they were’t kidding!

Food styling, food photography, food memoirs, and the interiors of busy kitchen fascinate me. 

I’d love to pop into busy kitchens around the world one day and publish a photoessay “A Day in the Life of a Chef” and compare notes between kitchens in different parts of the world.

My favorite books are Donia Bijan’s “Maman’s Homesick Pie” and Luisa Weiss’ “My Berlin Kitchen.” 

I will gladly sit for hours and pour through each cookbook I can get my hands on—not for the recipes but for the beautiful photography. I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem” for both the visual storytelling and the historical component. 

Maybe it’s the decided lack of shared meals growing up, or that I’ve met my closest and dearest friends over a shared meal, or the desire to foster close, meaningful friendships wherever I go, but I love bringing people together over food.

Guess it’s the way I feel "at home" wherever I am in the world.

(And what they say is true, placing flowers on the table really does make the meal taste that much better.)

Yet as much as I love bringing people together over food, I love dining alone at least once in each new city to understand the vibe of the city.

Emily Chen1 Comment