This months edition of Prism’s Artist Feature we introduce Natalie Jeffcott, a prolific commercial and editorial photographer who juggles many roles within the industry from being an in house photographer for Frankie Magazine to her role as Stocksy’s Australian Account Director.
Natalie is a familiar face around Prism Imaging, having worked together on the 2016 Melbourne exhibition “Stocksy + General Assembly present: Art Creation in the Digital Age”,
we thought we would find out a little more about this remarkable woman.
Hi Natalie, with many varied creative experiences could you tell us about yourself and your creative journey?
Growing up I always loved drawing, art and design. After completing High School, I studied Visual Merchandising at RMIT Tafe. I first picked up a 35mm camera and learnt basic photography there, along with completing short courses in b/w darkroom printing at Prahran Tafe. Following many a year of travelling overseas I returned to Melbourne to study a BA Arts in Photography at RMIT – finishing in 2001. I was first interested in exhibiting my photography, whilst also doing other small commercial jobs on the side. In 2007 I opened a shop in North Melbourne called Arthur’s Circus. We would regularly put on small exhibitions and events as well as creating photographic artwork to sell as prints, cards etc. I have always loved travel and collecting, and I remember back at RMIT one of our lecturers was a stock photographer for Lonely Planet and back then I thought that would be my dream job, travelling the world and capturing what I saw. Fast forward to 2013 and I heard about Stocksy and I applied to license my images with them. At the moment I juggle quite a few different photo-related jobs. Being a commercial / editorial photographer, creating photographic artwork available to buy online and in a few local shops and licensing images through Stocksy (and 3 other agencies – less so) and most recently my role as Stocksy’s Australian Account Director.
You work in a few different genres, from art & design, travel, commercial and fine art. What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about travel and the world we live in. With a son that has just started High School – travel doesn’t get to happen like it used to. I love wandering and seeing new places, often with a vintage / nostalgic bent. I love to document peoples homes and spaces in a non “stylised” way. Our world is filled with imagery of perfection, but really no one lives with an artfully draped towel on their bath tub. Give me a real home filled with interesting stuff any day.
Your recent series ‘Holiday Road’ captures the American landscape with a William Eggleston feel. There are no people in the images and a sense of silence and vastness permeates. What were you feeling and hoping to capture a sense of when you were there? What is it that you love about travel photography?
I think growing up I was always somewhat of an observer. I hate being the centre of attention and prefer to watch / see. I lost both of my parents at quite a young age – so within me there is a sense of loss and nostalgia for the past and remembering what once was. Travel has always offered me an escape from my own everyday, yet the everyday of others is also what I love to photograph. America has such a vast landscape and being able to travel by road and stop and photograph the faded history of yesteryear as it still stands. Here in Australia, the old is all too often flattened to build the shiny new.
Having both a qualification in visual merchandising and photography has that influenced the way you work on your commercial photography and how?
As a commercial Photographer and setting up images it definitely has. The art of design and space and composition. I still remember many of the skills from Tafe / University. I also worked in the prop department at Selfridges years ago, so I have quite a few painting and decorating tricks up my sleeve when it comes to making props and backdrops.
To be successful in the photography industry do you think it is important to get a formal education first or to just get out there?
I really believe that the photography landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years, with digital and now phone photography / instagram and facebook – Influencers can now make a ridiculous amount of money. You can also google pretty much anything on the web and learn how to do it. Though I still believe a formal education stands you in good stead for a long term career, along with assisting / mentoring.
You have a style that is clean, simple and nostalgic. How important do you think it is to have your own personal style in the industry? How much of that should be reimagined to meet clients needs?
It is so important to have your own style and way of seeing things. It’s hard to stand out these days and not everyone will love what you do. Personality and being able to communicate with clients is so important too. At the end of the day you have to be able to deliver an image to their needs. Your style may get you the job, but the knowledge in how to capture and deliver what your client wants is what will sustain a career that pays the bills.
You have a large client list that has published your work such as Frankie, Smith Journal, Yen, Oyster, Apartment therapy, Stocksy just to name a few. For the aspiring photographer what did you do to get your work out there and noticed?
I started out pre digital capture and definitely pre social media. I’ve always been a fan of creating something tangible. So I like to create something and send it via post. Then follow up with an email or phone call. I am quite hopeless with social media.
Stocksy is highly curated stock photo company that proudly features your work. What goes through your mind when you are creating stock images?
It varies, but Stocksy is not like other stock agencies – however at the same time an image needs to offer something that can be used, whether as a part of advertising, editorial, a book cover etc. I collect a wide array of vintage things, so sometimes it’s as simple as illustrating a concept with a prop. Or researching magazines / advertising and seeing where the images have come from, what they are illustrating and then planning a shoot with a more commercial approach utilising people / models. Often I am simply documenting my life, where we may be or at home with our 6 pets – 7 if you include the fish. It’s now hard not to take photos and think would this be good for stock?
Being a regular contributor to Apartment therapy it is obvious you have a keen eye for interior photography. Your images look effortless though I am sure that the effortless look comes with a lot of knowledge and preparation. Are there any difficulties in photographing interior spaces?
I have a love / hate relationship with my tripod. It’s a necessity but can also prove awkward in tight spaces. Also I use natural light, so there is always quite a bit of unknown in regards to where windows are and what the light will be doing on any given day.
Which is your favourite room to photograph and why?
I love photographing artists / creatives workspaces / studios and homes. Kitchens are good too.
What advice would you give to emerging photographers who want to follow your path?
Oh that is so hard to answer. My path has often been a shambles and I’ve always lived without a great deal of planning. Be yourself. Be nice to people. Word of mouth goes a long way. Create what you love. Ask for advice from others and get critique and feedback on your work. Sometimes it’s so hard to be objective, especially if submitting a folio / going for an interview, creating your website etc.
What is your next adventure?
Getting my son through High School !!! And saving for another holiday. We can’t quite decide as a family where to go as yet.
Intro by Georgia Quinn
Questions by Stella Nguyen
Art Direction by Jo Nixon