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Natasha Janardan: Breaking Stereotypes in the Creative Industry

Photographer, Natasha Janardan, is quite the artist with her mellow attitude on-set which allows her models to relax and get imaginative. However, she understands the determination needed to survive this crazy and sometimes ego-driven industry. Janardan expresses in her interview with us that she educates others, specifically women, about the hardships of the creative industry.

YHM: What drew you to photography and how did you get started?

Natasha Janardan: I have always been interested in taking pictures. I really enjoy the way photos can look really different in camera than what people see with the naked eye. When I first started out I really enjoyed taking macro nature photography. Ever since the 5th grade I had a camera attached to my hip so I don’t really remember how I got really into photography. All I knew was that I liked how fast digital photography was and how editing can completely change the mood of the picture.

YHM: What would you say is your unique touch that makes your body of work different from other photographers?

NJ: One thing that I find that stands out with my photos is that my subjects look comfortable. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have some sort of special editing technique but rather that I work really hard while photographing someone to make them feel comfortable. It is really difficult to have images unique to other photographers since photography is so widespread now. Because of this, that is why I try and spend just as much time with figuring out how to make clients comfortable opposed to having a unique editing style.

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YHM: Do you have any embarrassing OMGosh photo moments?

NJ: Oh goodness! I think the most embarrassing thing that happened to me that is photo related was when I was a freshman in high school. There was a senior who was really into photography at the time and I really liked the photos he posted on Facebook. I hadn’t talked to him at all and I was still a measly freshman. I then proceeded to message him on Facebook, asking how he edited his photos – that part wasn’t so bad. After he responded to my first question I then asked if I could join him on one of his shoots and if he could teach me how he takes photos. Never got a response. I was a mortified freshman. Luckily, that is pretty much the most embarrassing photo related moment. I haven’t had anything embarrassing happen with someone during a session- yet.

YHM: What was the hardest part of producing photography when you started?

NJ: I think the most difficult part of producing photography when I started was figuring out my editing style. I used to spend hours trying to copy and match the editing style of other photographers. It took me a long time to stop having my goal in photography be the style of other photographers and to just focus on how I liked to edit. I still struggle with that today when there is a new fad in editing.

YHM: We love your imagery and photo editing of Book III on your website. What was the concept and process behind it?

NJ: Thank you! Book III are all of my self-portraits. In the summer of 2014 I was going through a bit of a photography crisis. I started to feel that my photography wasn’t growing much. I didn’t know what direction to go into next. Many photographers excel in fantasy/concept photography that gets a lot of traction, but I didn’t want to go down that route. My twin sister, who is also a photographer, and I decided to just try and work on simple self-portraits. Instead of giving ourselves the constraints of thinking of specific concepts, we both focused on figuring out different effects with photos. I started messing around with studio lighting and holding prisms up to my camera lens. This also helped me get more into constructing different backdrops and painting them. I also started styling the way I dressed by doing crazy hair and makeup.

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YHM: You recently graduated from The University of Michigan School of Art & Design. What is your next move in photography and life overall?

NJ: Ideally I would like to finish out this summer with senior portraits like I always do. I would then like to take a couple more months just focusing on learning studio lighting and producing more styled shoots. In the last school year I started asking to photograph my friends and I would do their hair/makeup so the photos would be more on the editorial end and not so casual. That is what I would like to work on. Then after that I would absolutely love to have a full-time job in photography possibly with a company. All of this might be different tomorrow depending on how I am feeling. I’ve even thought about going to grad school to get my MFA so I could be a professor. As for life overall, I just want to be happy! (yeah I know that is very cliché).

YHM: Sometimes photography, film and other creative careers outside of fashion seem so male dominated. Is this something you have noticed? If so, how do you work and overcome it?

NJ: I have definitely noticed it! I think one of the things that helps is having open discussions with how the industry is and who dominates it. I often talk about how it is much more difficult for women to be documentary photographers. For instance, photographing a war zone as a male is extremely different than if a woman would. Many of the photography professors that specialize in documentary photography talk about it as if it is something that one just has to “do”. They don’t really think about how spaces are either limited for women or risky for women to enter. These are the types of things I talk with my friends and classmates about so they are more aware of it.

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YHM: Who are your favorite photographer(s)?

NJ: Right now my favorite photographer is Lara Jade. She does fashion photography and I always get excited when she posts new work. I love the way she styles her shoots and her editing style. She is really open with how she works which for me makes her photography even more attractive. I can learn a lot from her posts because she always explains how she got to the end product.

YHM: Do you have any dream projects?

NJ: As of now, I would absolutely love to be able to photograph famous women of color like Janelle Monae. Other than that, I haven’t really thought about what type of dream project I would like to do.

YHM: What’s one of your most memorable shoots?

NJ: My first portrait shoot that I ever did was my most memorable. My sophomore year of high school, I asked my friend Mary if I could photograph her. We got up at 6:30am to catch the sunrise on top of this parking garage. We were extremely lucky with everything. It had rained the night before so the clouds looked amazing and the rain was making really cool shapes on the floor of the garage. Mary was absolutely wonderful at modeling. Everything made up for the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing.


By Yegide Matthews / Photos: Courtesy of Natasha Janardan

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