Natascha van Niekerk | Interview

Exploring the World

Working in the advertising industry as a photographer, whilst also running her own wedding and lifestyle photography business, Natascha is now pursuing her dream of photographing fine art. Fine art photography is an interesting medium that combines the techniques of art but intertwining them with a camera.

For the most part, fine art photography encourages the photographer to tell a story, focus around a subject or theme and adapt it in a way that encompasses both art and photography as two different mediums.

Whilst art can be interpreted in a tumultuous amount of ways, so too can photography, and when mixed together they provide endless opportunities for a photographer to go out of their comfort zone and create something wonderful.

Hi there Natascha how are you?

I am great on this rainy morning here in South Africa!

So tell us a little about yourself and how you came across photography…

Well, I actually did my degree in Photography after school, and have since done almost everything in the photographic industry. I have taught at colleges, worked in the advertising industry as photographer and assistant, run my own wedding and lifestyle photography business, and now I am finally pursuing my life long career dream, I am selling my work as a photographic artist!

How has photography helped you develop as a person?

Photography has given me a voice to express myself, and that for me, has been the most valuable addition to my person.

Copyright 2014 - Natascha van Niekerk
Copyright 2014 – Natascha van Niekerk

What sort of camera do you use and if you do a lot of editing, what sort of approach do you like to go for when editing your images?

I currently use a Canon 5Dmarkii. I do use Photoshop quite extensively, as I build up my images through compositing different elements to create my envisioned concept into a final image. I mainly shoot all the different elements in the image at the same location and on the same day, this makes putting everything together so much easier.

You have also delved into underwater photography. How do you go about setting up for photo shoots like that and what do you enjoy most about them?

Underwater photography must definitely be the most challenging and the most rewarding photography I have done! I usually also start out with a very clear picture and concept in mind, complete with model poses, wardrobe, colours, light, props and so forth. But I have found that shooting underwater always throws so many unforeseen circumstances at you! So I regularly redo my underwater photo shoots, and I learn so much every time. What I love most about underwater photography is the magical quality of light, the movement and colours of fabric and how the water changes any model into an ethereal, graceful being.

Copyright 2014 - Natascha van Niekerk
Copyright 2014 – Natascha van Niekerk

How do you go about planning your images?

I generally have a very clear idea about my images and would usually sketch out the entire scene, location, model pose, wardrobe, props etc (even though I am terrible at drawing! They are more like stick figures) Many of my images originates from a specific concept… a mood I want to portray, or say, the impression of being trapped, lost, free, content. Often my images are inspired by my natural surroundings, and how a certain character would fit into those surroundings and become part of it. Most likely I will ponder on these for a while, gather all the information, do some location scouting and then go out and execute.

What do you enjoy most about photography and does each image express something different about your personality?

My images are indeed deeply rooted in personal struggles and ideas. For me, the creative experience of photography generates catharsis, and every time I create and release an image another part of my being is freed and becomes known to others, and also often, more clearly to myself.

Copyright 2014 - Natascha van Niekerk
Copyright 2014 – Natascha van Niekerk

Tell us about the image with the girl in a chair besides the water. What was your inspiration for that image and did it differ from any plans you had?

I often measure the success of my images to how close the final product is to my original concept, and by that measure “Home” is a 100% successful! I am also so glad that you chose that image, because it remains one of my favorites from my portfolio. The story is about a girl who’s home is actually the ocean… she is close to it, feeling the breeze and almost being able to reach it, and yet, still constrained to a household object like the chair. Personally, the image conveys a moment of silence, the girl is not struggling, only reaching, and yet in some ways melancholy, also strengthened by the predominately blue color palette.

Who inspires you and how do you adapt their values and work ethic into your own?

My biggest inspiration is the natural world around us, and also, my personal life experiences. But in the world of fine art photography there are so many inspirational artists!!! Brooke Shaden will probably be top of my list, not only because of her exceptional work, but even more so her personality and the way that she motivates and inspires those around her. Also, I love the work of Oleg Oprisco, Ashley Lebedev, Gregory Colbert, Anka Zhuravleva, Katarina Plotnikova, Mariska Karto, Elizabeth Gadd, Kindra Nicole and so many more! And of course on a more personal level and closer to home, friends and fellow fine art photographers Claire Gunn, Margherita Introna and Maajiedah Satardien. These people inspire all of us to follow our hearts, live our dreams and create!

Copyright 2014 – Natascha van Niekerk
Copyright 2014 – Natascha van Niekerk

Where do you see yourself in a year in terms of photography?

Well, definitely more established as a fine art photographer, as I have quite a few exhibitions and shows planned for this year. Yay!