The hard light and desert colours of Santa Fe, New Mexico provide the perfect canvas and colour palette for the minimalist and sometimes abstract photography of Natalie Christensen…
Why do you photograph? What was it that first got you interested in photography?
I started pursuing photography about a year ago; it was not something I had previously considered as a creative pursuit. I have always had an interest in interior design and painting, as well as fashion, but never studied them in a serious way. I started taking photos with my iPhone, and began posting those that interested me, and a few of them were noticed and featured on an Instagram site @simplysantafe. They promote Santa Fe, New Mexico, my new home as of two years ago. Santa Fe is a city of artists, and people find it very inspiring. I think that my decision to live here woke up my creative side. Learning photography reminds me of when I first learned to read as a child… once over the initial learning curve, I couldn’t turn that part of my brain off. My eyes now are constantly on search for that next potential shot and story.
Would you say that you have defined your style?
I think, for now, I have defined my style. I am only a year in, so I know it will continue to evolve. If I had to describe it, it would be graphic minimalism with an occasional vein of social commentary. I developed this interest in the early days somewhat naively, I am not an ‘educated photographer’; I was just shooting what appealed to me. I have since been directed to William Eggleston and I find his work really compelling.
I am drawn to light and shadows, simple lines and color. I have always been attracted to the abstract expressionist painters, particularly Mark Rothko.
I love your use of colour and your somewhat abstract compositions; what is it that draws you to a particular scene and what influences your choice of composition?
I am drawn to light and shadows, simple lines and color. I have always been attracted to the abstract expressionist painters, particularly Mark Rothko. I want my shots to convey some soul, and I particularly like to shoot subjects that others may not ‘see’. Santa Fe is one of the most beautiful cities in the States and has been photographed millions of times. People are typically drawn to the mountains, the clouds, and the adobe architecture. I love those things but that is not what I tend to shoot, although sometimes I just can’t help it. Those features can be breathtaking here, but they already get lots of attention by painters and photographers. I want to show this place in a different way, still beautiful, but also capturing the ‘plain’ aspects of Santa Fe. I travel quite a bit for my ‘real’ job, so I have the great pleasure of doing the same thing in other places.
What do you do to keep challenging yourself creatively?
I challenge myself creatively by shooting everyday, and also looking at lots and lots of photography. I tend to revisit the same spots at different times of day to improve my shots and learn. I have found Instagram to be a constant source of inspiration and the community has been so supportive of my efforts. I participate in a small online critique circle of other women photographers and their feedback has been invaluable. I also switched from iPhone to a digital camera somewhere along the line in the past year, and have found I approach composition much more thoughtfully with a camera.
I tend to revisit the same spots at different times of day to improve my shots and learn.
What is next for you? Are you working on any projects that you can tell us about?
Some of my photos are currently available in a gallery in Santa Fe. These images are mostly architectural and graphic, and I am continuing to look for opportunities to expand that work. I don’t really know what is next, I like to experiment and challenge myself so I am open to new discoveries. I love taking photos just for the pleasure of it, and so appreciate when others respond to them.
See more of Natalie’s work at:
All images copyright Natalie Christensen.