Natalie Christensen: Finding Hidden Beauty in Plain Sight
When I first saw Natalie’s work, I was immediately drawn to the vivid colors and geometric aesthetics in her photographs. As a creative that favors and practices minimalism, I was interested in her gallery of photos that consisted of grid like compositions, repeating elements, and contrasting light and shadows. For me, they evoke a sense of calm and pleasure and has changed how I view things around me. Something as ordinary as a ladder on the side of a building or an empty parking lot can now peak my interest.
For Natalie, it has been a journey from ending her 25 year career as a psychotherapist to finding her new identity through photography as a visual expression. Her work is typically found in places that most people may consider undesirable and uninspiring, such as shopping centers and office parking lots. Natalie finds a way to shape them into art and finds hidden beauty in plain sight.
In one particular photography series called “Active Imagination,” Natalie explores a meditation technique developed by Carl Jung. It aims to translate the unconscious thoughts into images or stories. The images invite the viewer to reflect upon oneself and their deepest feelings that may be hidden away. Natalie explains that these photos may evoke a sense of loss, secrecy, loneliness, or self-doubt.
Do you do anything specific to plan out your shots?
“I don’t plan photographs or look for anything specific, I just let my eye guide me. It is spontaneous and purely a visual exercise. However, I began to look for patterns in my work, patterns in subject matter, and it became obvious to me that some unconscious process was happening and I started linking it to the theories of Carl Jung. I know that I love doing it and it is a creative exercise that gets me out of my left brain.
I typically walk or drive around for photos. I don’t know what I am looking for specifically, however I am drawn to wide swaths of negative space, geometric or organic shapes, and contrasts in light. I do revisit the same spots repeatedly because of changing light at various times of the day as well as the different positioning of the sun in summer and winter. I tend to work very quickly when shooting. I am usually alone and in areas that could arouse suspicion when people see a person with a camera so I don’t hang out for long periods setting up shots.”
Are you a full-time photographer?
“I am not a full-time photographer, but I do it very often. I try to take pictures daily or nearly every day. I have been exploring photography as a creative outlet for about two years. I don’t recall deciding to “be a photographer”, it happened gradually and I sometimes joke that photography kidnapped me, because it has become a near obsession.
My husband and I have a consulting practice that keeps us very busy. We consult in the area of child protection and work around the United States and Australia helping states improve their outcomes with children and families.”
What’s your gear and setup like?
“I shoot with a Sony A7 r ii and iPhone 7 plus when I don’t have my camera with me. I typically go handheld because of the style of shooting and subject matter I like. I use Lightroom and Photoshop for editing photos when I plan to print them or submitting for photo competitions and reviews.”
Which photographers have you found to be influential with your work?
“Jim Eyre, Sinziana Velicescu, Rachelle Mendez are three that come to mind on Instagram. I also adore William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Robert Adams’s work and find it so inspirational and mind-bending. True pioneers of the style many of us are emulating on Instagram.”
What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
Any advice for beginning photographers?
“Look at lots and lots of photography. Hone your eye because your tastes will likely change the more you look. Take as many photos as you can and be open to critique.”