Interview with photographer Natalie Fay Green

The Baby’s Hair is in Her Eyes

Cary Benbow (CB): What compels you to make the images you create?

Natalie Fay Green (NFG): I see the world differently when I’m using my camera. It slows me down, and I really observe my surroundings. I’m a mother of three small kids (ages 7, 5, and 2), and sometimes life flies by without me actually processing what’s happening. I feel like I miss days on end doing nothing but getting everyone fed and dressed and delivered to where they need to be. But when I have my camera, I don’t miss the big events or even the little details—in fact, they become tremendously important. I feel more in tune with life and my world. And when I don’t shoot—when I get caught up in the lather, rinse, repeat of daily life—I tend to become very frustrated.  

When I first started learning photography, I took pictures of everything, literally everything. Over time, though, I’ve become much more selective. I love images that tell a story, and those are the ones that compel me to pick up my camera and shoot. At this point in my life, with these little children everywhere, the majority of my work tends to revolve around my family. In that work, however, I’m not looking to be sentimental; instead, I’m looking to capture some facet of childhood that I find compelling or that speaks to my own memories of being young. Ideally, I like to impart some of my own experiences into the image. I don’t limit my work to my family, though—I make efforts to shoot other subjects, and those images are very satisfying for me.

90 and 1

CB: Why did you become a photographer? What was your start into photography?

NFG: I used to be a writer—well actually, I used to be a practicing tax attorney. Then I became a stay at home mom, and I started writing to keep my sanity. I realized one day that, while I had these rich memoir-style stories of my children, I had no pictures, no actual images of what they looked like. I had described the crazy hair and the smile on the swings, but I didn’t have a physical record. It felt like I was missing something hugely important, so I picked up a old camera and started learning to use it. I became obsessed, almost immediately. I got a new camera and threw myself into learning as much as I could. After a while, I got to the point where I was proud of some of my images, and I started exhibiting my work.

Hanging On

CB: Please explain the idea behind your portfolio images in the Love exhibition.

NFG: Each of the images that I submitted focuses on the strength of emotional connections, whether between the individuals in the photographs or between an individual in the photograph and me. These connections sometimes span several lifetimes: two of the images involve my daughters with their great grandmother. I think many of us can remember the feeling of an older family member or friend touching our face or brushing our hair, a perceived-giant sharing a meal or a gentle touch. Through the years, I’ve focused on the power of connections—emotions, shared experiences, memories—and tried to showcase the meaning of those in my work.

CB: What do you feel makes a successful photograph?

NFG: I think a good photograph catches the viewer and draws her into the story. It invites the viewer to bring her own experiences to bear on the image or evokes the memory of senses—smell, touch, sound. It may be gritty and complicated. I like images that challenge expectations or present something authentic yet unexpected.

Tourists at Marina di Praia

CB: Where does your inspiration come from?

NFG: I get most of my ideas from observing the activity around me or my own memories of my past experiences. I think we all have certain recollections from our lives—the feeling of being pushed on a tricycle, of getting our hands dirty while fishing, of laying on the bricks and watching the clouds. These memories are things we share in our collective consciousness, and I love to explore them. I don’t like “perfect” images; I like ones that show life as it is. A lot of my images have messed up hair, clutter in the background, and kids acting like kids. I don’t want to sugarcoat life—fact is always more compelling than fiction to me. I love to use framing, contrast, movement, perspective, and other design elements to help tell my story and encourage the viewer to bring her own experiences to the image. That being said, I have no aversion to cleaning up an image to assist the viewer in reading an image or using techniques to help guide a viewer’s eye through the frame.  

Into the Maze

CB: Is this influenced by any of your personal photography inspirations?

NFG: I’m primarily a black and white photographer, and I love the great straight photographers who explored moment and stories: people like Dorothea Lange, Robert Doisneau, Elliott Erwitt, Imogen Cunningham. I’m also inspired by some of the documentary and editorial work I see in major publications and Instagram these days. I love Instagram—it’s fun to have a library of amazing work to discover any time of day or night. I’m always looking for photographers who see the world in unique ways or tell stories that are particularly compelling. I also love movies with dramatic lighting. I’ll watch a movie and be distracted by the quality and color of the light and way the scene is framed.

CB: How would you describe your work to someone viewing it for the first time?

NFG: I think I would say layered. I love to incorporate elements from the past and the present and the future. I like to use juxtaposition to tell a complex story in a stand-alone photograph. And I want to freeze that story in a single timeless frame that will endure and that resonates with the viewer’s own experiences.  

Breckenridge

CB: What work are you currently working on? Any new projects?

NFG: Obviously my family work is ongoing and will be for quite some time. But I’ve also been focusing more on broader social commentary—images that speak to certain facets of modern American life. It’s something that I’ve been dabbling in for several years, but I’m feeling really drawn to it now. I hope to continue to grow that aspect of my work. Living in Washington, DC, I have a lot of opportunities to explore this kind of work.


Natalie Fay Green is a fine art and documentary photographer based in Washington, DC. To see more sample of her work, please visit her website at www.nataliefaygreen.com or Instagram @nataliefaygreen

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Guillaume Martial@ GalerieEstherWoerdehoff

© Guillaume Martial,

Guillaume Martial: Footlights
04.04 – 06.05.2017

opening reception Tuesday, April 4, from 18h to 21h

GalerieEstherWoerdehoff
36 rue Falguière
75015 Paris – France

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Thomas Kellner @ Theatergalerie Gummersbach

VG Bildkunst Bonn & Thomas Kellner: 82#20 Pervouralsk New Pipe Plant, 2013

Thomas Kellner: genius loci – Two German Gentlemen in the land of the Tsars
March 26 – June 10, 2017

Opening Sunday, March 26 2017, 11:30 am

“The same as his countryman and predecessor in the Urals, Georg Wilhelm Henning, Kellner reconstructs the customary world so that it stays in movement and continually delivers new perspectives today and in the future as well.” (Irina Chmyrewa)

This project deals in an artistic-photographical manner with two important industrial areas in Germany and Russia, which are liked to each other through the common history of industrial culture. I’m talking of my hometown Siegen and two of the biggest cities of Russia, Yekaterinburg and Perm.

Theatergalerie Gummersbach
Moltkestraße 50 / Reininghauser Straße

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Marco Scozzaro @ Baxter St at the Camera Club of NY


Marco Scozzaro: Digital Deli
February 23, 2016 – March 25, 2017

Opening Reception: Wednesday, February 22 , 2017 | 6 – 8pm

“In his exhibition, Scozzaro employs a photographic fiction-making process as obliquely autobiographical, fabricating, inventing, and constructing images that straddle both criticism and confession. Subverting a tantalizing advertising style of rich colors and textures with staged images that disorient, Scozzaro questions the representability of certain ideas that recur in mass media. Not merely a criticism of oversimplification in visual culture today, his images are also documents of a purposely mis-directed self-representation. In some of Scozzaro’s work there is a clear tension between the naturally mechanical aspect of photography where the camera plagiarizes nature versus the corruption of that verisimilitude with a variety of techniques. The corruptions and contradictions appear as variations of the very notions they reference in a kind of object-oriented ontology that ultimately revokes a hierarchy of signification.”

Baxter St at the Camera Club of NY, 126 Baxter Street, New York, NY 10013

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NORM DIAMOND @ AFTERIMAGE GALLERY


NORM DIAMOND: WHAT IS LEFT BEHIND Stories from Estate Sales
MAY 20 — JULY 12, 2017

OPENING RECEPTION WITH THE ARTIST: SATURDAY, MAY 20, 7:30-9:30PM

Estate sales have become a common way for people to dispose of their parents’ possessions after they die or move to assisted living. Over the course of a year, Norm Diamond visited countless estate sales in Dallas, Texas, photographing objects that evoke sadness, humor, and ironic commentary on American cultural history.

AFTERIMAGE GALLERY
2613B Fairmount Street, Dallas Texas, 75201

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JANE AND LOUISE WILSON @ GETTY MUSEUM


JANE AND LOUISE WILSON: SEALANDER
February 14-July 2, 2017

“In striking images of the Normandy coast, the Sealander series bares graphic witness to the toll that time has taken on these powerful symbols of German dominance over most of Europe. Originally thought impenetrable, these fortifications are now slowly crumbling into the sea,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “There is a powerful poignancy in the picturesque decay of these structures that were created in such a frenzy of human activity and are now gradually being returned to nature’s benign embrace.”

GETTY MUSEUM
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California.

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Sam Haskins, Kishin Shinoyama and Francis Giacobetti @ Steven Kasher Gallery

Sam Haskins
Untitled (from Cowboy Kate series), 1960-1964

Sam Haskins, Kishin Shinoyama and Francis Giacobetti
February 23rd – April 15th

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 23rd, 6 – 8 PM

“Haskins, Giacobetti and Shinoyama produced the most influential 1960s erotic photography in their respective countries. They created a revolution in artistic nude photography by rejecting the Playboy clichés, by eschewing the statuesque models and stereotypical poses to be found in the publications of the era. To quote Sam Haskins, “These were real live girls and they were having fun.” By rejecting the distinctions between art and what was then considered pornography, these artists helped usher in a new erotic world order. In addition to reawakening interest in the flowering of 60s sexual revolutions and its visual correlatives, this exhibition sheds light on contemporary anxieties surrounding feminists and feminism.”

Steven Kasher Gallery
515 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001

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Angela SAIRAF @ TOBE Gallery


Angela SAIRAF: The Secret Life of the Tapuicacas – Budapest Photo Festival
March 1 – April 7

TOBE Gallery – 1136 Budapest, Herzen utca 6.

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HER FEET PLANTED FIRMLY ON THE GROUND @ Houston Center for Photography

image Laura Plageman

HER FEET PLANTED FIRMLY ON THE GROUND: six photographers exploring the contemporary landscape
MARCH 3 THROUGH MAY 7, 2017

OPENING RECEPTION March 3, 2017 | 5:30 PM

Her Feet Planted Firmly on the Ground highlights the photographs of Christa Blackwood (Austin, TX), Susi Brister (Dallas, TX), Jennifer Crane (Saskatoon, SK) Ellie Davies (Wareham, UK), Naima Green(Brooklyn, NY), and Laura Plageman (Oakland, CA).

Houston Center for Photography
1441 W. Alabama
Houston, TX 77006

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Laurent Millet @ Catherine Edelman Gallery

Laurent Millet: Somnium
March 3 – April 29, 2017

OPENING RECEPTION WITH THE ARTIST: Friday March 3 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

“For more than twenty years, Laurent Millet has channeled his innate curiosity to create photographs that question the way objects appear within space and time. Citing R. Buckminster Fuller and Denis Diderot among his influences, Millet creates an artistic vocabulary through metal wire, vineyard posts and barrel hoops – objects prevalent in the coastal town of France in which he resides. His 1997 series, Petites Machines Littorales, addressed his surroundings, as he transformed the sea into a place for scientific experimentation, creating contraptions that suggest a way to measure water or listen to fish. These “machines” invite curiosity and questions, much like a child experimenting in a science lab. In his 2000 series Les Cabanes, Millet continues to build structures in the water, yet this time they appear to be bridges, ladders, architectural pieces and fences, suggesting a relationship between water and sky. The 2002 series, La Chasse, features objects that could be used to trap, to capture that which is hard to contain. And finally, in the 2014/15 series, Somnium, the artist photographed himself with geometric objects, polyhedra, that he fabricated. These images seem paranormal yet familiar, as the artist engages with objects hovering in the air, recording his encounter.”

Catherine Edelman Gallery
300 W. Superior Street * Chicago IL 60654

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