Nadia Rasheed

Natalie Yau: Still Standing

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Twenty two year-old photographer Natalie Yau – a resident of Winchester – has an intriguing body of work. Perusing her website you’ll find studio photo shoots as well as black and white images of New York City. Yet perhaps most fascinating are two of her project ‘Effluent’ and ‘Still’ – photographs that look like they could be just about anything: floating fabric or coloured smoke fumes (in actuality neither of these things.) Natalie’s work excited and engages; a young creative who has chosen to use the medium of photography for the most original of gains. I spoke with her about the two projects and more.

When did you get your first camera and what was it?
I got a 35mm Canon EOS 500 in an independent camera store in Winchester. It was my first love becauses I bought it for a whole £100 with my own money

How did your passion for photography develop?
It first developed during family holidays. My parents enjoy touristy holidays around China, exploring its historical sites. One time they got me a disposable camera and I fell in love with photography and film right then. I think I was about 14.

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What inspires and influences you as an artist?
Chemical processes is definitely at the top of that. The camera-less exhibition at the V&A was my favourite exhibition of all time. I realised at university that creative people are also a huge inspiration and influence to me. A few friends that I work with who go to the Winchester School of Art; they work so hard and are always doing such creative projects. Seeing their work made me pick up my camera again after I graduated.

I love your ‘Effluent’ and ‘Still’ series – could you explain how those photos were taken?
These are my favourite projects. ‘Still’ was done with vase, a shot glass, water, food colouring and oil. This was done alone with a table lamp and a lot of patience, haha. With ‘Effluent’ I had an assistant, a fish tank, water and oils. It was a pretty funky set up with a reflector being held by a clothes horse and a Metz flash. It took quite a lot of time too but we had a laugh.

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How do you stay creatively motivated?
Surrounding myself with other creatives for sure. If I spent all my time with people who do things by the book, I don’t think I’d be interested in the arts anymore. I’m extremely lucky to have so many contacts with creatives from university as well as knowing current students from WSA.

What is the best thing someone has said to you about your work?
Someone at the Free Range exhibition, where I exhibited ‘Effluent’, said that they found it almost impossible to not walk towards the work and take a closer look. That put a pretty big smile on my face.

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What advice would you give to young, aspiring photographers?
Build on contacts. If you have guest lecturers at university, stick around and chat to them. I’m terrible at advice, haha. Do what makes you happy!

Where do you hope to be in the future and how will you get there?
As a graduate everyone (absolutely everyone) will ask you what you want to do now and what job you want. Quite frankly, I have no plan. I’m still taking photos and jotting down project ideas and enjoying myself as a young creative. When I went to Mallorca a few months ago, I met an artist who still doesn’t know what he’s doing … He’s almost 70!!

Make sure to visit Natalie’s website to view more of her work!

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