Born on Teesside on 21 November 1972, Emma Peios spent her childhood in Middlesborough, before a move to Athens, Greece, and then later to Surrey, back in the UK. Always determined, Emma decided on photography as a career at an early age. Her sister, Joanna, fondly remembers when Emma was collating her portfolio making her, when barely a teenager, “lie for what seemed like hours in a bath of lukewarm milky water in a pair of ripped 501s!”
A Greek girl’s shoes. Photo © estate of Emma Peios
Awarded a Distinction in BTEC Design (Photography) at Kent Institute of Art & Design in 1995, Emma went on to Southampton Solent University, where she received a BA in Professional Communication (Photography) in 1996. Following her degree, Emma gained valuable experience assisting fashion photographer John Swannell and food photographer Carol Sharp. Developing her own work in still life and lifestyle, Emma soon built an enviable client list of book publishers, PR, design and advertising agencies that included Marks & Spencer, L’Oréal, Emap and IPC Media.
Skilled at representing everyday objects or scenes as graphic and illustrative images, the work of Emma Peios was rich in colour and drew inspiration from graphic design, architecture, paintings and nature. Emma applied these skills to teaching following a qualification from City & Guilds for Further and Adult Education. In 2005 she won Judges Favourite – in the Garden Photographer of the Year competition, and was awarded British Council Digital Pioneer in 2007.
An eye for colour and design: Beijing, China. Photo © estate of Emma Peios
Involved in the Garden Photographers Association as a committee member, Emma helped organise several exhibitions at Kew and at the Geffrye Museum, as well as exhibiting in them. This is where she will be best remembered. She was also a member of the team that developed the International Garden Photographer Of The Year (IGPOTY) in 2008. Always with an entrepreneurial spirit, she formed her own garden picture library, Pollen, in 2005, and developed an interest in photographers’ rights too, joining EPUK in 2003.
Spending most summers in Greece, Emma found endless sources of inspiration from the country, its people and her extended Greek family. Much of her best work comes from here, and her later projects were influenced by this. She travelled widely, documenting landscapes and the people she met.
Emma will be remembered for her mischievous sense of humour and sharp wit, though she always had a kind word when needed. Her colleagues were shocked to hear of her untimely passing. As her sister Joanna said: “Her time on this earth was cut tragically short but at least her wonderfully evocative photography lives on”. She is survived by her husband, Clifford Saunders, and her daughter, Alaila Peios-Saunders, who is 3 years old.
Emma married Clifford Saunders at Princess Alice Hospice, Hersham on 9 June 2012. She died one week later, on 16 June 2012, and was laid to rest surrounded by flowers in a willow coffin at Epping Forest Woodland Burial Park.
Text © 2012 Paul Debois
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