Miss Aniela feature in NORMAL magazine

I am pleased to be featured in good company in the current NORMAL Magazine, available on newstands and museums worldwide.

Ok, so this blog is not supposed to be all about *me* per say, but the reason I share this is so you can read the interview in English – fully below – as the magazine is in French.

Plus, 5 of the featured 11 images are shot on the Fashion Shoot Experience – spanning LA, France, Iceland & NY 😀

if you fancied picking up a print copy here is a link to the full magazine, issue 5​.


Could you describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it?

Playful, a bit mad, occasionally humorous, an undercurrent of sensuality, usually colourful, and always with an element of surrealism – sometimes subtle, sometimes bold.

What are the places and historical periods that inspire you?

I generally like old houses that retain their original identity, they may be full of texture, history, scale… they might have hand painted murals and wallpaper, and just generally something ‘extraordinary’ that is not clinical or too practical.

In my Surreal Fashion series I directly take from paintings and the ones I find the most inspiration in are typically Dutch still life masters, seascape painters, and paintings of animals for example Melchior d’Hondecoeter (17th century). There is something simplistic about the paintings of still life and hunted animals yet also beautiful and intriguingly lit well, and I love it when this strikes synergy with the tones of my own photos in the way I process them. That is how they come together when I create a new piece.


Your favourite couturier / fashion designer?

I do not so much take an interest in fashion itself. I am interested in whatever looks good in front of my lens which may be an designer dress or an inexpensive homemade one, as long as it has character, texture, volume and something to offer the final image. In our own sartorial creations we do take inspiration from well-known designers like McQueen and Galliano and I also like working with stylists who think big. But it is always more about the art and not the names and labels.

What do you hate about photography ?

Sometimes I hate a lot about it. The obligation of having to make something ‘real’ in order to pictorialise it, unlike in paintings and other art that does not require models. Also the technological side of it can be cumbersome and frustrating, working with equipment to facilitate the vision. I also dislike the limits of the camera and how it often takes so much effort simply to recreate how something looks to the eye, but that problem is inherent in all art forms. What keeps me motivated is the relative immediacy of photography once you have all the subjects in place in front of you, and overcoming all the aforementioned challenges lends a sense of achievement, for if it were easy, then that feeling would not be so.


Why blend the real with the surreal?

Sometimes I am not sure. Even in my work before Surreal Fashion, there was plenty surrealism in my self-portraiture. It is not so much that I was determined at the shooting stage that I would later transplant something onto the image to make it ‘surreal’. I find it hard to force an image in a certain direction. But I just found that surprises would happen in the post-stage that gave me pleasure and the image a feeling of completeness, as if it goes beyond the banality of the image captured. I understand there are many points and purposes to photography and I appreciate documentary, untouched images as much as I do also like highly composited and polished images. But I have learnt through the years that my own favourite niche, at least for my main portfolio and ‘raison d’être’, is the latter.


What is your vision of nude in your photography ? And how do you use it ?

I love and hate nudes. I love the simplicity of stripping down a subject to flesh and contours, with no distraction of clothing, in line with their natural self, uninhibited. I also like the bold message, especially for women, that ‘this is me’ whether you like it or not. But what I also hate is that often the subject, especially if it’s a woman, becomes confused even subconsciously about what the purpose is of being naked in a picture to be shown to others. She learns how to pose to look attractive to what is usually exclusively the male gaze, however much she tries to challenge that. And if she does try challenge it she might become ashamed she does not look as lovely and flattering than if she sucked in her stomach and looked flirtatiously at the camera. Our patriarchal cultural indoctrination is in our bones.

There is also something that is just often a bit off-putting about seeing someone’s body unclothed, warts and all. Often we’d rather the nipples and genitals just be covered like a Barbie doll’s body is a clean smooth curved line at those zones associated with copulation and defecation. Often I will take nudes and flick through hundreds of unflattering angles of big knees, wide angle feet, mottled flesh and embarrassed crumpled mouths and think, where is the magic image? Then you find the magic image that makes up for all the frustration, the shot where everything looks in the right perspective, the right mood of confidence, the right ratio of covered/uncovered, the energy – or sense of static calm – that transcends the banality of the subject taking off their clothes for your camera like a flasher, instead becoming a character in an unwritten movie. And the best images will always be those that put a question mark over whether the subject is exposed for the viewer’s titillation or not, in fact it becomes a side issue.


Your main characteristic?

I mentioned boldness before, and I think this is the word that comes up all the time from my first pictures to now. Whether in the days when I shot myself, or now when I shoot models, there is something always unavoidably bold, no matter how much I might try tone things down or apply an influence from someone else. I am drawn to colourful popping palettes (somewhere in an image, if not always all over), deep contrast, even a poster-paint like aesthetic to many images. Or the action going on in an image will be bold – whether that be levitation, or animals inserted from paintings, or a nude woman with surreally multiplied nipples like the invasion of an ants’ nest. Whether my images are self-portraits or fashion; colour or monochrome, high or low production, there is always some element of boldness (rather than the pastel wallflower of delicacy that is in many other photographers’ beautiful work) that if I were to cautiously suggest is my ‘signature’, that would be it.

You’re in many of your early pictures, are you your own muse?

My first few years were nearly all self-portraiture and that was my ‘go-to’ thing for many reasons. A natural evolution has brought me to a place where I now rely on models for my visions so I can stay on one side of the camera and direct women with physiognomy and heights that excel and diversify my own. I have also found this opened up a new world of interest beyond the commercially-esoteric niche of self-portraiture. With styling, costumes, make up and the whole theatre of fashion production, I enjoy having more of a playground to run wild in, though it also brings its own challenges different from doing it all privately yourself.

What makes you angry?

When people do not think for themselves or look deeper into things, when I see independent thought criticised. And, in general, humanity’s abuse of the planet and how we are all trapped into a cycle of having to abuse it to make a living too.

Your greatest ambition in life?

To do something meaningful, useful and helpful to others, whilst also enjoying the aesthetics of art, the beauty of nature, the pleasure of food. To be able to help my children to forge a meaningful existence for themselves.

What makes you get up every morning?

The little things: tea, birdsong, the cats, dressing gown, internet…
I am pregnant, so in a short time, it will be my baby who has me up regardless!

A quote?

“If the dream is a translation of waking life , waking life is also a translation of the dream.” – Rene Magritte


One comment

  • In tears again Nat, your written word is as elegant, rich, deep, expressive, meaningful, exciting, honest and as colourful as you and your images. Much love …. Gina x

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