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Capturing Badass Mountain Babes with Emma Light

Bozeman-based photographer Emma Light captures the beauty, fun, and all around badassery of women in the mountains. As a senior capstone project during her final year at Montana State University, Light created a photo book titled Mountain Babes, documenting the lifestyle of adventurous women.

Cover of Mountain Babes. Emma Light photo.

When did photography become more than hobby?

I started shooting photos with a 35mm AE-1 Canon. It belonged to my dad and he lent it to me for a photo class during my sophomore of high school. I thought the class was interesting, and while I was building a collection of photographs, I was surprised to find my classmates found them interesting. 

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This feedback was really my first incentive to pursue photography a little further, so I worked with the high school newspaper and helped provide photos for the yearbook.

Rachel Pohl skiing Fairy Lake in November 2014. Emma Light photo.

What inspired your Mountain Babes project? 

It actually started off trying to shoot lifestyle/adventure photos for Topo Designs. I took one of their packs on a trip to City of Rocks, Idaho with one of my girlfriends. I knew right away that one Topo Design pack is not enough to support my vision. So I moved onto a different focus, which was to simply document the trip.

Spread from the photo book. Emma Light photo.

After that trip, I began to ask myself why not photograph rad mountain babes doing gnarly activities. During the time when I was working on this project, Unicorn Picnic's Pretty Faces was released. There was this incredible energy building because finally there was a ski movie created to inspire women that it is a possible reach for the stars. 

Nina Hance stemming on the Crack of Dome in City of Rocks. Emma Light photo.

I'm just super happy that I can contribute to the same mission but with a local, Bozeman, audience. In my handmade Mountain Babe book there are four separate adventures, that focus on pre-season backcountry skiing and climbing. 

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Most of the "mountain babes" are my friends, and I know there countless more rad babes out there (which is awesome!!). My goal is to continue a part II of the Mountain Babe series. 

Lila Scott and Rachel Pohl at Fairy Lake. Emma Light photo.

What is your favorite subject to shoot?

For me, I try to be versatile with what I shoot in order to continue to do what I love.  At the end of the day though, I like to photograph outdoor lifestyle/adventure because it combines two of my favorite activities.  

Nina Hance cooking breakfast at city of rocks. Emma Light photo.

How has Bozeman contributed to your photography?

Bozeman is such a unique place. It's a small enough town to be heard. Local business and artists help each other, and I am super fortunate to be supported by these people. There are so many places to get lost in the surrounding areas, and so much more to explore.  When I shoot in new places, I get super excited to photograph, more so than the places that are known widely. When in a popular spot, the challenge comes from capturing that new perspective. 

Olivia Buchanan (left), was killed this past January in an avalanche near her hometown of Durango, CO at the age of 23. As a great friend and major contributor to the project, Emma wanted to bring awareness that nature can be deceiving- be careful out there! Emma Light photo.

What does the future hold for Emma Light?

My goal for right now its to work with a skiing/adventure magazine or outdoor marketing company. For me personally, continuing to perfect my photos, to improve on skiing and climbing. In order to capture these moments I need to be on a similar skill and endurance level as my subjects. 

"After skiing on horrible snow at Fairy Lake in the Northern Bridgers, all of us just started dancing! I love how we don't let the bad get to us." Emma Light photo.

You can keep up with Emma's work on FacebookInstagram, and her website.

From The Column: Through the Lens

About The Author

stash member ERICA AARONS

Skis, bikes & searching for the next adventure.