Some Truth, Some Lies
In Natalie Krick’s work Natural Deceptions, she gives a visual voice to the complex relationship of a women being attracted to the thing she struggles with everyday-how to be beautiful and how her beauty is perceived by others. With endless amounts of color, blown out whites and unflinching gazes, these images document the bits of honesty and fabrication that compile all of our attempts to be beautiful. And her mother is the subject of choice.
Abigail Smithson: How would you define the beauty that you are attracted to?
Natalie Krick: I am attracted to glossy surfaces and pops of color. But what really holds my attention is a certain darkness and complexity.
© Natalie Krick “Mom with her finger on her lip”
AS: Referring to your work Natural Deceptions, do you believe that deception is a part of looking beautiful? To attempt to look beautiful, are women playing a part that is not truly themselves?
NK: Appearances are deceiving on all levels and I think this is ultimately what attracts me to photography. Richard Avedon talks about portraits his family would make when he was a child. They had this tradition of making photographs of the whole family in front of different homes (where they did not live) posing with different dogs (that did not belong to them). He describes these portraits as revealing of who they wanted to be instead of a documentation of who they were. I love that!
I think there is this universal disconnect between how we are perceived, how we want to be perceived and who we actually are. I’m attracted to photographs that heighten this disconnection. Diane Arbus wrote about flaws and the attempt to look one way and then essentially being viewed in another way. Photographs act to challenge and uphold the fantasy we have about ourselves. I see an unflattering picture of myself and I cringe “that was just a weird angle” or “I don’t really look like that” but others may see it and not think twice. I think about the pictures we share online as attempts to create a self image – an identity constructed through imagery. It’s interesting that these collections of images are often associated with spontaneity but are actually very revealing of how we want to be seen.
© Natlie Krick “Mom with skittles in her shirt”
© Natalie Krick “Self portrait as a blonde”
© Natalie Krick “Mom’s self portrait”
AS: Do you talk to your subjects about your ideas? What instructions do you give them?
NK: I do. My mom and I have had many conversations about what I’m thinking and how people react to the images. When I’m shooting I do give a lot of instruction, mostly on how people pose.
© Natalie Krick “Mom in the front yard”
© Natalie Krick “Mom as a virgin”
AS: Tell tell me about the beginning stages of photographing your mother. What made you decide to start shooting her? Did you think of the project idea first or did photographing her spark an idea?
NK: Before I started photographing my mother I was making pictures of other women that were inspired by images I saw in fashion magazines and of young, sexualized celebrities. Once I started putting my mom in the pictures, I found the images to be much more complicated because of our relationship and her age.
Now, the photographs we make together spark ideas for new photographs.
© Natalie Krick “Mom and me”
AS: How does your mother feel about the photos of herself?
The images that she has told me that she likes the most are Mom after Greta and Mom lifting her shirt up.
© Natalie Krick “Mom lifting her shirt”
© Natalie Krick “Mom after Greta”
She often “jokes” about how I am sadistic for making her pose for me but as Arbus said, it hurts to be photographed. I think it’s uncomfortable to be in front of the camera just in the way that it’s uncomfortable to be stared at. But there is also discomfort in knowing that the image will exist for the scrutiny of others.
When I photograph I take a lot of pictures that are very similar and I would say that about half the time I get something that I like.
AS: How do you feel about the portrayal of women’s sexuality and beauty in pop culture?
NK: It’s a trap. I am frustrated, seduced and frustrated by my seduction. I’ve always been obsessed with the fantasy of femininity; I love glamour, lipstick and artifice.
Images of sexualized female bodies are so ubiquitous that they often seem meaningless or trivial even though this imagery holds so much power and influence. It’s very complicated and it affects me (and I assume most women) every single day of my life.
© Natalie Krick “Mom in gold”
AS: Do the women you shoot find the photographs you take of them to be flattering?
NK: Very rarely. With my photographs, I want to examine what we consider to be flattering or unflattering.
AS: Do you consider your photographs to be beautiful?
NK: That’s somewhat of a tricky question. I avoid making photographs that are beautiful in a conventional way or that are simply pleasurable and easy to look at. I think that the pictures have a seductive quality but I also want to create unease. Can beauty be uncomfortable?
© Natalie Krick “Mom’s neck”
To see more of Natalie’s work, please click here.
What a fascinating post. Something I struggle with is how to reconcile the way I see myself with the way others see me. You’ve inspired me to read more about Diane Arbus, and to think more about Natalie’s last question: Can beauty be uncomfortable?
Gorgeous photos. Reminds me of some of the advertisements for Marc Jacobs. Not intentionally beautiful, but mesmerizing and darker than you expect. Great colors/shadows.
Thanks for interviewing this photographer Abbie! Great insights.