I have worked with and studied some incredibly talented photographers, but there is one who just is the bee's knees. Her name is Natalie Montez Miller. Natty is the kind of photographer other photographers dream of being. Whenever her name is mentioned, the next words out of anyone's mouth is "UGHH... she is amazing!"
I knew of Natty's awesomeness even before I met her. I knew several people that raved about her. When I found out I was going to be working with her, I was a little intimidated, but she was so bubbly and welcoming that my fears subsided. She worked part time at the studio, coaching volleyball and doing her own photography as well. She grew so busy she just worked one day a week, which we called Natty Day. She finally was able to leave and take care of her own clientele.
I worked a lot with Natty and was able to develop my own skill through watching her in action. Here's a few things that I observed:
1. She is worth the hype.
Natty was the first person to show me that anyone's photos could look like the cover of Vanity Fair if you aren't afraid of trying new things. Her use of angles, shapes and depth of field added so much dimension that her pictures looked 3-D. And all of this was on film, so she couldn't see the finished product until it was developed. She had to trust her instincts.
I learned how to tell a story with a look. The emotion and personality she was able to capture in her photos brought people to tears. She also showed me the power of knowing when to use black and white; that it's not just an effect or a filter, but a tool to enhance the emotion. .
Even outside of the studio, I have learned from her. She uses the scenery as a tool to enhance the photo, not as the focal point. She uses color to add texture, so again her pictures have that out-of-a-magazine look.
I was able to develop my own skill by observing Natty and practicing what I saw. Natty's style is very clean, which is something that I have adopted. She has challenged me to try new things and find my own style, making each picture worthy of hanging on the wall.
2. She is gorgeous...
Not really much I can learn about that; it's just a fact. Natty really could be a model, but her passion lies on the other side of the camera. She makes everyone she photographs feel like they are supermodels.
3. ...but she's even more beautiful on the inside.
Natty is one of the most kind-hearted people I have ever met. She just makes everyone feel so warm and loved. The first time I watched Bridesmaids, I thought of Natty when I heard this line:
"You're more beautiful than Cinderella and you smell like pine needles and your face is like sunshine!"
EVERYONE loves Natty. After the phrase "She is so amazing!", you are most likely to hear "I love her!" If I ever met a person that didn't like her, I would know that person is not to be trusted.
People will schedule months in advance for Natty to take their pictures, and it's not just because they know their pictures will turn out amazing. It's because she takes the time to get to know them so she can look for those moments that they didn't know they wanted captured. That is he main thing that I have tried to emulate in my own photography. She is so patient and thoughtful and you can't help but smile when you look at her. Natty's family, including her husband and her five kids, are her everything and you can sense that love in every picture she takes.
In December of last year, her son Dylan was involved in a terrible accident that left him in a coma and his family not knowing the extent of his injuries. In a testament of how much Natty and her family have touched people's lives, their immediate community rushed to surround them with support and Dylan's story made the news and was shared through social media all over the world.
Through the grace of God, he has improved miraculously and is home, just two months later, walking around and being loved on by his parents and siblings. Natty remained so strong and grateful for every little step that Dylan took towards recovery. The grace that she showed throughout this period just makes me admire her more.
I owe a lot of who I am as a photographer to Natty. Her passion for photography has inspired me and challenged me to try new things. There are still traces of Natty's influence in my work. Every photographer I have trained has benefited from Natty, without having ever met her and without her even knowing the influence she has had. Check out more of her work!