Meet Sally and Emily

Images by Sally & Emily.

Meet Sally and Emily, photographers and sisters based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Though playful and bright on the outside, their images pick apart and question societal norms from a feminist perspective (beauty standards, social media, self-perception). Their project “Facetime”—one of our four April Meet Series winners—dissects media’s projected standards of physical looks and offers a new, celebratory perspective of holistic, authentic beauty. The siblings have been featured in Cosmogirl!, ELLE, Marie Claire, NYLON, and more—and soon, we’ll add After Nyne magazine to the list!

LAB: What inspired your winning work (Facetime)? Did the series follow the path you expected, or did it evolve as you shot? 

SA: The process definitely evolved organically during the course of the two-day shoot. We collaborated with a handful of talented individuals on this project. The magic happens when you work with people who have a mutual artistic approach.

EM: We collaborated with Sissy Sosro (make-up artist) to challenge beauty standards and their meaning. Visually, [Facetime] was heavily inspired by surrealism, graphic, vivid colours, and a little bit of humour.

LAB: Many artists flee their hometowns presuming there are better opportunities in big cities (NYC, London, LA, etc). What’s it like to live and work in your home city? How do you find fresh ideas and inspiration?

SA: When you talk about living and working in Jakarta, I think both can be very different.

EM: To us, Jakarta feels like a temporary bubble. A comfort zone. It’s familiar and we love what we do here. But I feel that it’s about time for us to seek new challenges and adventures. The mantra is to never settle at one place for too long. This is our greatest inspiration.

Meet Sally and Emily

LAB: What’s the best (and most challenging) part of working with your sibling? How do your personalities complement / challenge each other? What helps you to make decisions as creative partners?

SA: You will never have to eat lunch by yourself.

EM: I’m a Gemini and Sally is an Aries. We both complete each other’s sentences. I’m the yin to her yang.

LAB: What’s a typical night in like for you two? Define “totally crazy.”

SA: One time we sang ourselves to sleep for 3 hours. You can call it an impromptu karaoke session.

EM: Day or night, it won’t matter!

LAB: Facetime, emojis, anonymity, selfies … what draws you to these themes? What are you learning about others (and yourselves) by addressing 21st-century tech and culture through your photography?

SA: We want to remind others of how life is without technology – to challenge themselves and take a step back from the digital world. I always encourage people to digital detox every now and then.

EM: Technology can be a double-edged sword – it’s fascinating but also dehumanizing. Being female photographers, we often address feminism awareness and 21st-century tech altogether to be relatable. We want to remind young girls to love and respect themselves, be brave, challenge the norms, and most importantly, be human.

LAB: What does a “digital detox” look like? What practical steps would you recommend for a technology purge?

SA: As simple as setting your phone in airplane mode when you’re on holiday. Not having the need to post everything online.

EM: I agree. People are oversharing their lives these days. To be present is a luxury.

LAB: Where will you go next? What cities are most appealing to you and why?

SA: USA in the summer. One of my favourite cities in the world is Bali, it embodies the perfect balance of beach and city life.

EM: Our motherland, Sydney. I miss the Australian lifestyle and its charm. It’s my second home and where I can be most myself.

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Lauren Aguilera Brown

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Storyteller | Writer | Singsong Weirdo | Food Whisperer | Jane of All Trades Founder @monologues_the | Upcoming Album @weheartarts