the gathering

I come away from the last three days of hearing the stories, advice, and words of guidance with new energy.

the reason I picked up a camera (as a child), was to save memories. to continue to add to the collection of images my parents had created. boxes and books of prints that I could spend hours on my bed looking at, studying, thinking about “that time when….”.

the day photo’s of my great-great relatives where found in Houston after my grandmothers funeral was amazing for me. it was a window into another time, another place when life was very different for African Americans. without those photographs I would not have been able to be a witness or experience it in a small distant way.

photographs have a power – the power to make you stop and think. to reflect, to appreciate beauty, simplicity, the harsh reality of a time period, the human connection, the grand-ness of this planet. nothing else can visually stop time, tell a story in a fraction of a second, tell the truth or fabricate the authenticity of a moment.

the last three days showed me that real photography still exists. that it is hard work, that it can take you places you’d never dream, that there is longevity, and critical thinking, and a way to find your place in it all. I think we are in the midst of change in the industry, an evolution of sorts. the ease of access to cameras (dslr, film, phone) has created a new population of photographers. new digital mediums to share the day-to-day images that will someday become the digital memories that I used to daydream about in the boxes and books of prints are abundant. my advice — don’t forget to print those memories.

though six critiques I learned my work has a place. it may have been very different from the other attendee’s, but it has substance. I learned that the journey ahead of me will come with lots of ebbs and flows – moments of doubt, and joy. I learned that shooting what I love, what I care most about, and shooting it from inside me will make it mine. I learned that opinions matter, but my vision is what will sustain me.  honing in on that vision and shooting it until it feels right is my mission.

I have a story to tell. it’s my story, but I also think it’s everyone’s story. photography is the tool I use to tell it. photography is still my way of saving memories. it is how I document that I was here. that is why I pick up a camera today.


concept 2: woman. beautifully complex

woman = daughter. sister. girlfriend. wife. mother. friend. lover. partner. estrogen driven human.

woman 1

we are not always easy to understand. we do not always know why we do, say, or act a certain way. we are hormonal, and with that comes the responsibility of bringing life into the world.

I think we all strive for connection. basic human connection that comes in the form of a mate, a partner who we can trust and feel a sense of protection and security with, someone who will accept us as we are.

woman 2

as children in western society we are presented with stories of how to achieve that connection. the fairy tales of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. the happily ever after, and the some day our prince will come – if we are beautiful, a certain size, not too smart, domestic and subservient. while boys were taught math and science, encouraged to play sports go to college, girls were given dolls, taught to cook and bake, shown how to apply makeup and pay attention to fashion trends so that we’d be desirable.

woman 3

that was 40-50 years ago – right? today women are equal, we can do anything a man can do, we can go to the same universities, obtain the same post graduate degrees, fire a gun along side men on the front lines of battle, earn the same money for the same job and have long successful careers outside the home. right?

woman 4

we are natural born care givers. nurturers by design, and that comes out if we choose to have children and stay home to raise them.  if we choose not to have our own children we may have nieces and nephews to spoil and guide, and if we have pets they may become our outlet for our nurturing spirit. for women who choose a career, I see mentoring and growing a team as a similar type of nurturing. our husbands, boyfriends, partners even get a lot of this natural attention.  we are natural givers and I’d bet any combination of the before is how most women see themselves.

the strength and beauty that comes from seeing a woman for what she really is inside is a sight to behold. she is vulnerable, strong, caring, forgiving, accomplished, smart, sexy, and all things womanly.

woman 5

woman = daughter. sister. girlfriend. wife. mother. friend. lover. partner. estrogen driven human.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback…

model: anna kawakami, hair/makeup: kathleen marie tinney, super assistant: maria giacona

concept 1: pre shoot rambles

concept 1 will be born tomorrow. I’m nervous. excited. anxious. it’s all the normal emotions I have before a shoot. I am prepared – I think. the concept is clear, the mood board is done, the models are secure, I’ve had a meeting with hair and makeup (Becky you are going to rock this!), my biggest cheerleader is on board and has a crew lined up to help him set up my vision.

concept 1: in between. we’ve all been in that space. adolescence: not a child not an adult. separated: not married in the true sense of it, but not single. that in between state is a state all on it’s own. it’s recognized and acknowledged, but it’s still in between. my first expression of ‘in between’ will reflect my upbringing in an all white community and my internal struggle feeling accepted by my black community. I was influenced, and imprinted by my childhood community but never fully accepted. I am accepted by the black community to a point (I believe). The ‘Oreo’ nickname I was given still fits – but I prefer to think of my middle as a swirl. I see who I am when I look in a mirror and that is the state I accept – the blended inside, and non-blended outside.

black/white, in black and white. beach shoot, at 7am and there may be rain….


Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.37.06 AM

personal work – the beginning

It has taken more than a month to get to today.  I needed time to reflect, to absorb, to begin to understand how the workshop affected me.  For the first time ever I’ve sat with my images. I fought the instant gratification bug to post them all right away, and did not post them as a complete body of work anywhere public. I took time to study what they said to me, about me.  My part of the session we were given to shoot on our own was my vision, my posing, and my expression of my own inner fears and strengths.  What I am sharing today is from that session, but it is just the beginning.  I’ve sold everything my business had acquired to support newborns, and I’ve made the decision to no longer take new clients.  My photography will be about my life, my upbringing, my family dynamics and being a black woman.  I am so excited to start this first phase of work – and sit with it for as long as it takes for me to be comfortable to share it with you.   On that note – here is the work from the July workshop at Motherwell Ranch in Colorado, with Jennifer Thoreson featuring my amazing model Heather Sebald.

click the collage to enlarge

Gallery one:  my internal dialogue.

Collage 3 Collage 4 Collage 5 Collage 6 Collage 8

Gallery two: my external being.

Collage 9 Collage 10 Collage 12 Collage 13 Collage 14 Collage 15

I hope you enjoy this new beginning, and stick around to watch this chapter unfold.

Collage 16

xo – natalie