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Emma K. Spencer

B.A. Amherst College, Harvard-Westlake School

Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, California

I am a photographer who aims to capture how traces of the past resurface today. By juxtaposing “then,” the past, with “now,” the present, I hope to illuminate both the similarities and differences between living today and living in the past, and how the past built and influences the present. Through archival research, I accumulate information to inform, contextualize, and often accompany my present photographs, questioning what is important to remember, cherish, and keep alive today.


Vietnam War Veterans: Then and Now

June 2017 - Present

When I realized that many American Vietnam veterans have seldom had the opportunity to tell their stories due to public disdain towards the war, I decided to give veterans a platform to share, and civilians a way to understand the truths of this war. I was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and my grandfather, Naval Officer Scott Wilson, Sr.. While attending Amherst College, I was awarded the Davis Foundation's Projects for Peace Grant to execute my project, Vietnam War Veterans: Then and Now, on a national scale. In 2022, I began my Senior Honors Thesis, So, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? Working with Diane Carlson Evans, founder of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C., I created a Women Vietnam Veterans' archives. I was awarded Amherst College's Engaged Research Grant and Alpha Delta Phi Grant, enabling me to travel throughout the United States to interview and photograph these women. The culmination of this work is presented in my Senior Thesis Exhibition, So, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, in which I was awarded Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College's Art and History of Art Department. All oral histories on this website are archived in the Library of Congress's Veteran's Project. Organizations that formally support the project include Vietnam Veterans of America, Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, The United States Vietnam War Commemoration, and The Witness to War Foundation. Spencer hopes to continue this project for many years. 

The Amherst Student Photography Editor

September 2021 - September 2022

The Amherst Student is the Amherst College newspaper. The paper did not have a formal photography section, so I established one in the 2021 fall semester. I currently run the section, managing 6 photographers and taking photographs myself. 

Santa Barbara Independent

June 2022 - August 2022

I was the photography intern for The Santa Barbara Independent, a weekly paper located in Santa Barbara, California. I was given weekly various assignments for the News section, including portraits for profiles, events, and community gatherings. My photographs were published weekly, and I shot the cover of the News section for the Fiesta Issue. 

Five Colleges Advanced Studio Art Seminar

September 2021-December 2021

Every year, The Five College Consortium (Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) hosts an Advanced Studio Art Seminar in which 2 students from each college are selected to participate. In 2021, I was selected for the Archives and Research class, focused on exploring how archival research informs and complements artworks and the art world. My classmates and I then curated a show, where I showcased my series, Russell School House.  

Fahey / Klein Gallery

May 2019 - August 2019

I was an intern for the Fahey/Klein Gallery, a prominent photography gallery focusing on fashion and culture photography. I learned the inner workings of a gallery, from sorting and organizing prints to sales and client relations, and helped with the opening of a gallery show. 

Charity Event Photographer


I photographed events for Dogs Without Boarders and Foster Nation. Dogs Without Boarders is a pet adoption placement agency located in Los Angeles. I photographed the pets selected for adoption so Dogs Without Boarders could formally showcase their pets to find new homes. Foster Nation is a Foster Care organization based in Los Angeles that provides care for Foster children and families. I photographed numerous events to showcase the organization's work. 

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