Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_final_01.JPG

Emily Leiker arrives at her shift at Harold�s Doughnuts at 3:58 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 13. Leiker said she normally wakes up around 15 minutes before her shift so she gets as much sleep as possible, Her friend and co-worker Christina Long arrived at the same time.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_final_02.JPG

Leiker ices doughnuts during her shift. She preps doughnuts at the beginning of her shift and then switches to making TikToks for the shop�s social media.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_final_03.JPG

Long and Leiker laugh while storyboarding a TikTok. They have time to plan a video for the social media app in the break between decorating the doughnuts and the early morning rush.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_final_04.JPG

Leiker beings making the TikTok, which was Lion King themed. She mimicked the opening scene of the movie by picking doughnuts that represented the different safari animals.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_final_05.JPG

Leiker walks back to her car after finishing her shift at 8:17 a.m. She�ll come back to Harold�s later to pick up kolaches.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_final_06.JPG

Leiker eats breakfast once back at her apartment. She opted for eggs and avocados over doughnuts.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_final_07.JPG

Leiker walks through her dark apartment after waking up early for her shift. She said she had trouble sleeping because there were loud parties at a neighboring apartment.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_alt_08.JPG

Outtake 1
Emily ices a doughnut during her shift. 

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading ER_EarlytoRise_alt_09.JPG

Outtake 2
Emily takes a closeup video of a doughnut during her Lion King TikTok video shoot.

Final: Early to Rise
emmalee reed
Sep 23, 2020
Location: Columbia, Missouri
The streets are empty and quiet, save for the echoes of parties winding down and the trio of girls wandering home. It is 3:43, Sunday morning, in downtown Columbia. Emily Leiker is ready for work.

Leiker has worked for the past year at Harold’s doughnuts as a customer service worker and barista. She goes into the shop at 4 a.m. five days a week to prep doughnuts for the early risers ready for their fixing of sweets. Of course, Leiker rises even earlier than they do.

Recently, Leiker’s close friend Christina Long started working at Harold’s. The pair work the same shift on Sundays and appear joined at the hip for most of the time.

When they are not decorating doughnuts, Leiker and Long make short TikTok videos for the shop’s social media.

“I do the TikToks because it was kind of my idea for us to get a TikTok and I was really pushing for it,” Leiker said. “And our owner knows I’m a journalism student.”

On Sept. 13, Leiker made a Lion King themed short. In her few weeks as self-appointed TikTok Manager, she has made six videos, often adapting trends to fit the shop’s brand: doughnuts.
After her shift, Leiker returns to her apartment, makes breakfast and gets ready for the rest of her day, which is filled with visits with friends and homework on Sundays. Other days bring full-time classwork and sports reporting. With her busy schedule, working an early morning job is easier.

My story focused on Emily Leiker, who works as a customer service specialist, barista and TikToker at Harold’s Doughnuts. It was a little bit of a scramble to find this story because my original story idea fell through. Once I found Emily, though, I was able to get to work at 3 a.m. the next day and make pictures of her at work.

I actually only photographed Emily once, as I felt I had made enough pictures during her early morning shift to make a story. Originally, I was planning on taking pictures of her life outside of work, too, as she is a full-time student and sports reporter. I decided that adding photos of these activities would complicate the story and it would possibly lose its focus. Looking back at my process and story I made, I wish I would have photographed Emily in those situations as well just to see if they would have worked within the story.

I had trouble editing this story, partially because I didn’t get enough visual variety when I was making pictures. I really could have used some wider images and tighter portraits of Emily. One thing I think I did well, though, was get expression despite the everyone wearing masks. The photo of Emily and Christina laughing is one of my favorites out of the bunch and I think it adds a lot of personality and impact to an otherwise flat, straightforward story.

Emmalee Reed

Emmalee Reed is a photo editor and photographer based in Columbia, Missouri. She specializes in documentary photography and photojournalism.
Website via Visura

Emmalee Reed is integrated to:
Visura site builder, a tool to grow your photography business
Visura's network for visual storytellers and journalists
A photography & film archive by Visura
Photography grants, open calls, and contests
A newsfeed for visual storytellers