Having been a model for most of her working life, Natalie Goldstein decided it was time for a role reversal and that she wanted to be the one behind the camera. Becoming a photographer was not an easy task, her journey first started photographing children but it was the under the experienced wing of Wolfgang Mustain that Natalie learnt more about photographic technicalities. A short while later and Natalie’s photographic collection, entitled Duality, is being shown at Imitate Modern‘s Proud to be British exhibition. Urban Times had the chance to quiz Natalie about what it’s like to be an up and coming photographer.
What were your inspirations for creating the Duality series?
The inspiration is all about togetherness and the body. I wanted to highlight that if we look after ourselves, by eating well and exercising, the body can be the most beautiful machine. If you learn a craft as well as the subjects that I photographed, you can manipulate and move your body with strength.
In one of the images the subject is balancing on just one hand. With the woman, she is gracefully moving from one position to another and she can contort herself.
Why did you choose to use yogis?
Because I had been training with both of my subjects. I love them as teachers and I love keeping fit myself. My father was involved in healthcare and so it seems a natural progression for me to be involved with the body and the appearance of it.
Why did you choose to use a lenticular and what technicalities were associated with it?
The reason behind the lenticular is because I thought it was something that would be beautiful for people to get a small glimmer of what I got to see on the day of shooting. It was another way for me to tell a story. When I look at things in life I see things as a picture- some people may see letters and numbers, but I see colours and pictures. That’s who I am.
The process is very long though. It’s all about teamwork at the end of the day and so finding the right people to work with is very important.
Could you tell us about the setting?
It was shot in the same room as where they filmed The King’s Speech. I had assisted and worked in there a few times and in different parts of the building and I had a love for that wall – there is just something about it.
For the Duality series I wanted to keep it strong, to give it a metallic feel- that real pewter look. The lighting in the room is also interesting because it’s all natural light as there’s a big skylight above where I placed my subjects. I didn’t use any additional lighting at all.
As a previous model, how is the experience different from being in front of the camera to being behind it?
As a model I know what it’s like to work with the light and how the light feels on my skin. It has been interesting coming from the other angle as I’ve been transferring those feelings onto my subjects to try and help them feel the light in the same way.
It’s great not having to be in front of the camera as there’s no pressure about what I look like! I love modeling, I always did- when you work with a great photographer and a good team of people the experience is just magical.
Can you give us a clue of what you’re capturing in your next photography project?
We haven’t decided on a name yet so I’ll just refer to it as the Fire Story. My subjects are ones that can do body-burning and fire breathing. It was shot in the same room as the Duality series, where they filmed the King’s Speech, but the photographs won’t be in black and white; there’ll be more moody lighting and rustic colours. This will pick up the intensity of the flames. I’ll probably do a lenticular with this one as well, but maybe even a 3D imagery. We’ll see! I don’t want to talk too much as my vision might change.
So how do you go about choosing your subjects?
I like to photograph professionals that have an immense talent. I don’t want to use skinny people. I can’t say that I’d never use a model, because I was one myself, but I’d use someone with a more voluptuous shape- bust and bum! I’ve got no interest in promoting anorexia. If you want someone skinny then you might as well go for a child.
You did initially started off photographing children. Could you tell us about that experience?
As my son was growing up I noticed that I wasn’t getting any decent pictures of him and I together! I was always running around at kids’ birthday parties taking pictures of my boy, but then I was never in them! So I started doing a couple for friends and one person said that they’d pay me and that was it (although it was almost nothing!)
My Mum thought I would have made a good kindergarten teacher as I’ve always loved kids. Shooting them is just wonderful because there’s this innocence that only children hold; if you can capture that moment then that’s amazing. Although I do admit there are some cheats with Mums hanging out behind my back and clicking their fingers!
So at this point you didn’t have any technical training, how did you break into the industry without any formal photography education?
At the beginning I had to rely on my eye. I was doing basic Photoshop on iPhoto which is nothing. However, my curiosity always gets the better of me and I wanted to know more. I started calling a lot of the photographers that I had worked with as a model and despite some of them believing that I wouldn’t be able to pick up the equipment, and that I’d be better off staying in front of the camera, a couple gave me some experience. I got a break from Wolfgang Mustain and I have him to thank for a lot. Although I started as an assistant I pushed myself to the front quite quickly because of my thirst for knowledge.
The success of your current series featured at Imitate Modern has meant that you’ve been invited to Los Angeles. Could you tell us a bit about this?
I was on holiday visiting my brother in California with my son and I went in to see a couple of galleries and showed them my work and now a Beverly Hills based
gallery is showing interest. They’re giving me a full story of 10 images that are going to go up in the New Year. The idea is to put the lenticular in the window and put two people in the entrance on podiums doing Ashtanga yoga so that people can have a glimmer of what I saw on the day when I was shooting. I’m looking forward to working more out there.
Have you shot in L.A. before?
I did a shoot out there with a friend who loves taking her clothes off in front of the camera! She’s an ex-ballet dancer. The photos are beautiful as she moves so well.
Being part of the Imitate Modern’s Proud to be British exhibition, what did it mean to you to be selected?
Being a British girl myself I’m so proud and honoured that they chose me and it was wonderful to be given that opportunity and break. The gallery is amazing and I can’t thank them enough.
Proud To Be British
11th July – September 2012
27a Devonshire Street, London, W1G 6PN