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Interview With Portrait Photographer Natascha Kwee

Interview with portrait photographer Natascha Kwee, who specialises in surreal scenes.

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Natascha Kwee is a photographer specialising in portraits that have a surreal feel. Here, we find out more about what inspires her and how she creates her work. 

Natascha Kwee

Image © Natascha Kwee

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into photography?
I started playing around with my dad's camera when I was about 14. When my parents noticed that I was really into it, they gave me my own camera, and that was the beginning of my photography adventure!

It began with macro photographs of the objects and nature around me, but when a friend offered to model for me once, I noticed that photographing people felt more like me. I continued along that path the following years and here I am now, 21 years young, juggling with my time to make it through medical school and still create photographs as much as I can.

Natascha Kwee

Image © Natascha Kwee

What drew you to portrait work?
I'm always trying to portray a kind of short story or a little adventure of someone, that makes you wonder how they got there, what they're doing or where they're going. That said, I wouldn't exactly say that I do portraits, but I do always shoot humans, otherwise the photograph doesn't feel complete to me.

 

Tell us a bit about your 'Earth of treasures' series, what was the inspiration behind this?
The series tells a story about a girl who's discovering a magical giant fruit world she's stumbled upon. So far I've released two photos, but I definitely want to continue this project in the next few months. I honestly don't remember how I got the idea to do this series! I probably saw an artwork that inspired me.

Natascha Kwee Image © Natascha Kwee

How do you create the effect of giant fruit?
I injected a very dangerous chemical in my fruits, which allowed them to grow to monstrous sizes! No, just kidding of course. I simply photographed the fruit and the model separately and edited them together with photoshop.

 

Surreal, larger than life people and objects are a common theme in your work. What drives you to create these fantasy worlds?
That's right, lately that's been something I feel really drawn to. I guess the real world often seems too standard to me, so I'd rather create my own weird worlds.

Natascha Kwee  Image © Natascha Kwee

Tell us a bit about the kit you use. Why do you like it?
I use a Nikon D700 with mainly two lenses: 50mm f/1.4 and 24-70mm f/2.8. They're my favorite lenses, because the 50mm gives incredible bokeh and the 24-70mm is basically an allrounder that I can use in many situations.

 

Is there a particular image that you are especially proud of / is your favourite?
Right now I'd say that I'm really proud of 'Ascent'. Making that photo felt like taking an exciting risk. It was shot in my living room with just a dark bed sheet as a background, so all the effects and colors had to be acquired during post-processing. In my mind, this was something that could easily look like I was too lazy to dive in the real ocean, but I'm so happy that I managed to kinda make it look like I actually did!

Natascha Kwee Image © Natascha Kwee

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently working on two new series. They both still have to be planned and shot, but the concepts are beginning to take shape.
I tend to keep my new projects a secret, but I can tell you that one project will be a continuation of a previous series and the other one will contain a lot of candy. 

 

If you could give 3 top tips to someone looking to create surrealist portraits what would they be?
My top tip would be: never underestimate your daily environment when it comes to using it as a set or background. Anything is possible, use sugar to create a world of snow, use grass to make a jungle or transform your room into anything you like! You have to be somewhat skilled with an editing software, but that'll come naturally if you just try and experiment, that's how I did it!

My second tip is: don't be afraid to experiment. This applies to all different areas like your models, theme, location, time of day, lighting, editing style... we tend to feel too comfortable in the world we know, but that's not how we can grow. A little spontaneous poem of mine!

I'll end with a more technical tip: when you want to composite 2 (or more) photos together, light is by far the most important factor. If the light on your subjects doesn't match, it's really hard to fix in photoshop and the photo will never ever look as realistic as it could be, so spend some extra time figuring that out for the best results.

Find out more about Natascha's work on her website

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