When Yukon born-and-raised photographer and graphic design artist Émeraude Dallaire-Robert was 14-years-old, her dad gave her a camera, and not just any old hand-me-down camera.

The camera was given to her dad in exchange for rent by a tenant who occupied a room in their family home. Dallaire-Robert was told by her dad that the camera was hers, on the agreement that she earned good grades in school. She laughs at the memory, admitting she actually received the camera before her dad found out her grades.

It was the gift of that camera, as extraordinary and unconventional as its arrival was, that started Dallaire-Robert on the path of becoming a photographer.

“I got the camera and then I went to Red Rock in the states for rock climbing,” she reminisces. “Those were the first photos I took, and I still think they’re really great.”

Though the photography bug may have caught Dallaire-Robert by surprise, her affinity for art and the outdoors was a gift that she naturally inherited from her French Canadian parents. Her mom is an artist who was an art teacher for much of her career, and her dad is an outdoor education teacher and avid rock climber.

Dallaire-Robert was raised in French and went to École Émilie-Tremblay. When she wasn’t in school, she spent much of her spare time rock climbing and dancing. Her mom’s hairdresser, who was also a photographer, became Dallaire-Robert’s friend and mentor, and she encouraged Dallaire-Robert to keep taking photos, even when the young shutterbug didn’t believe in herself.

“I was mostly taking photos of friends dancing in the beginning. These friends were comfortable in front of the camera and weren’t afraid to try weird, new things.” When she was still in high school, she was hired as a photographer at two weddings.

“That’s pretty cool for a 16-year-old!” she says.

It was at this young age that she recognized that photography could be more than just a hobby, but a business as well.

After graduating high school, Dallaire-Robert left for travels abroad, where she continued to take photos and share them online, despite her uncertainty about where her photography would take her and what her photographic style was. When she returned home to the Yukon, she was surprised to find she was contacted by many people who were interested in hiring her for photo shoots.

“I thought, ‘I think I really like this,’” Dallaire-Robert says of her passion, which was evidently flourishing into a small business.

In 2015 she moved to Vancouver to study graphic design at Emily Carr University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

“I had to take a lot of photos for myself to figure out what my style was and what I wanted to do with it,” she says.

Now, the artistic entrepreneur confidently describes her style in three words: moody, emotional and natural.

Dallaire-Robert takes most of her photos using a Nikon D750, and while she says she may be in a phase, she prefers capturing photos in black and white.

“I think everything looks better in black and white,” she says. “It brings out a mood that I love.”

She also enjoys portraits, and says she gets inspired by observing “real connections” happening between people and nature.

Dallaire-Robert chooses to take most of her photos outdoors because she loves the natural light and imagination involved with figuring out what to do with the creative elements that surround her and photography subject.

“I don’t have a studio because I don’t want to have a studio. I want to take my photos outside,” she says.

More recently, Dallaire-Robert has been falling in love with wedding photography.

“What touches me the most is how the love between those two people is bigger than that day,” she says. “Every single time I get to attend a wedding as a photographer, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to be part of such a special day.”

In the future, the adventurer, photographer and designer is hoping to work towards an exhibition centred around photographic empowerment sessions, featuring women in water, a subject Dallaire-Robert is passionate about shooting.

For her, a photo shoot goes beyond the technical.

“When you spend enough time with somebody and you go somewhere pretty, you share something more than just photography,” the photographer says. “It’s a real human connection; it’s magical.”

Four days of the week, Dallaire-Robert can be found at Aasman Design Agency, where she started working in in February. The rest of her time is dedicated to her personal design and photography business.

As a longtime Yukoner, Dallaire-Robert says she doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, and she looks forward to collaborating with others on projects.

If people are interested in hiring Dallaire-Robert for portraits, wedding, or any other creative ventures, they are encouraged to contact her via her website www.emeraudephotographyanddesign.com or through her Facebook page.