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behance.net/nataliawills

Duration: Three years of experience working full time, specifically in fashion and portrait photography.

Location: Bogotá, Colombia.

Education: Professional degree in photography from Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Bogotá, Colombia; certification from the Ruven Afanador Photography Workshop, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.

Career path: My interest in photography was a happy accident. I didn’t know what to study in college, and with my high school graduation only a few months away, my father gave me a camera for my birthday. I always found myself fascinated by the family albums he collected, and I kept asking him if I could keep some pictures from his albums and create my own. I guess that was his first clue that I had an interest in photography. He gave me a Kodak, so I started taking pictures of my dog, the moon and the flowers in the garden. I uploaded my photos on Facebook and people always complimented my work. Looking back, those were really crappy images, but people telling me I was good at it made me believe in myself. By the time I had to choose a profession, photography was the only thing that came to mind.

Being completely naïve, I made the decision without knowing what to expect from a career in photography. Even in my first years of college, I didn’t understand what the profession entailed until I got to my documentary photography class. Back then, documentary only seemed like images of people suffering in black and white. For me, photography is a safe place; it is a perfectionist version of my own reality. That class taught me that everything can be done in a way I see myself in. My first serious approach was architectural photography. I created an Instagram account and started to find talented people from all over the world with a minimalist style taking street shots of ordinary things. I immediately fell in love with the way people find art, even in the concrete floor on the streets.

I wanted to find beauty in everything people do not find beautiful at first glance. I started taking photos every day in the streets of my neighborhood and uploaded them onto Instagram. Then, Ruven Afanador, the most important and successful photographer of my country, was giving his first fashion- and portrait-photography workshop in the city, and I was invited to participate by my college. Getting closer to him and his work made me fall in love with fashion, and I began mixing it with the conceptual and structural touches I was developing in my architectural shoots. I find in fashion and portrait photography all that I didn’t know I would love.

Work with love, patience and no pretensions.”

Artistic influences: My fascination for forms, the contrast of shapes and colors. Color has always played an important role in my life; I relate colors with people. Even the days of the week have always been colors to me; for example, Tuesday is green. I’ve also been always surrounded by art in every form. My grandma did oil paintings, ceramic and porcelain work. My mother’s family has painters too; my sister draws, and I do too, so drawing with light felt like my perfect form of art.

Color and composition are important the moment I shoot something; that’s the base and the beginning of my process. Bauhaus is one of my main references when it comes to work. My slogan is “simple is enough.” Sometimes, people think of simplicity as poor or lacking. I feel simplicity is the greatest of expression; we don’t need more than the essential in life, and I don’t need more of the essential in work. The sensitivity of the artist gets me. One of my favorite artistic movements is impressionism. Impressions are the way I construct my work.

Favorite projects: A textile design collaboration I did with a fashion designer in 2019. We used textures of my photos to print onto textiles and made clothes from them. The prints were textures from the streets of my city. We took the most ordinary things, like gaps and cracks, and made them shine by turning them into wearable fabrics.

In January of 2019, I got the chance to shoot some editorial portraits for Netflix’s Green Frontier, a TV series set in Colombia. Actors as themselves, posing as who they really are—it felt really intimate, especially the moment I shot portraits of an indigenous actress who played a character in the series.

My biggest project of 2019 and my favorite by far was a campaign for London-based jewelry brand Missoma. For its new collection, Missoma’s designer was inspired by the culture of Mompox, Colombia, so she came to the city with a huge production team to shoot a video of their discoveries in Mompox. This was like a review from college once again, because I shot documentary photography of the people and artisans of Mompox. I also did landscapes, backstage, architectural and fashion shots.

Approach:  I approach all jobs like they’re my personal work. Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t like just because it’s work, but I try to see all jobs as a gift or an opportunity to show the client a way to do things in a more creative way. If they don’t want to, it’s OK; maybe the opportunity, in that case, is for me to learn from them. I don’t consider myself a very technical person. I feel things and set things up in the flow of the moment. I’m a demanding perfectionist—many times, I feel my work’s not good enough—but looking back, I feel proud of them in general. When I look at every photo I made, it doesn’t matter if it was commissioned or personal. I like them all because each was made with the same amount of love.

Philosophy: We have to make the best out of everything, even if it’s something boring or something that you don’t entirely like. Work with love, patience and no pretensions. People get envious and don’t want to share their experiences, but there’s always going to be someone better or worse than you. Learn and admire those at the top, and teach and be kind to those below you. We’ve been there and we’ll be there.

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