As I often mention on the blog, I have many muses, rarely though, I am lucky to find a muse that not only inspires me but that also encompasses another one of my greatest inspiration sources, photography.
This brings me to my next muse, one of my dearest friends, Melanie Nataf, an avid, talented freelance New York photographer, who finally launched her amazing websiteshowcasing her inspiring work. It is with much anticipation to me, not only because she is my friend, but mainly because I believe that talent of this sort, needs to be shared with the world and inspire us all. Not to mention she is the talent behind my beautiful spring 2011 look book photo shoot.
When I met Melanie some years ago, my first impression was – lots of personality, style, beauty, brains and a dash of sass for good measure! A true French/American woman, who in her own words describes her French “joie de vivre” outlook on life “French know how to live…. they love to eat, drink, smoke, travel and sex. I can appreciate that..” I think we can all agree!
Melanie, was born in Cannes, France and moved to the US at the age of 5 weeks. Her father, who is a perfumer ‘a nose’, was transferred to the States less than a year after he and Melanie’s mother were married. They settled in New Jersey, where she lived until the age of 18. She spent every summer and holidays in France until she was old enough to work.
Melanie’s educational background is as rich as it is creative. She attended FIT, where she received a degree in Advertising & Communications / a bachelor in Marketing & Cosmetics. She was rewarded to join the Masters Program in Marketing Cosmetics & Fragrances where she left after one year to join L’Oreal in global marketing. She worked 10+ years in the beauty industry.
Melanie has closed that chapter in her life to explore and pursue her true passion for photography and is currently attending the International Center of Photography for over a year now. Melanie has a love for travel and enjoys the NYC life with her hubby Alexis Nataf. I recently caught up with Melanie for a quick Q&A about what inspires her and amongst other things, of course, her fabulous style!
CHABELLA: What sparked your interest in photography?
MELANIE: I’ve loved the art of photography since childhood. For me they represent an emotional memory. My parents moved to the US when I was five weeks old from France. They documented our first years in the States via photographs. Those albums are the most precious to me.
C: What inspires you?
M: TRAVELING & CULTURE. Nothing is more satisfying than leaving Your comfort zone and escaping to the unknown. It’s a pure creative stimulant.
C: Favorite places to shoot?
M: My favorite locations change on a weekly. It really depends on what excites me in that moment and how I can document it. I do have an ongoing love affair with the Coleman Playground, a local skateboard park in the hood. It’s visually quite beautiful in a grimey way. I’m always so fascinated by the talent and style this place attracts. Some really cool-ass kids.
C: You recently visited Tanzania, how was that experience for you?
M: Mind-blowing! I’ve never felt so connected to the earth. The vegetation smells sweet, the warmth of the sun feels different, the soil is of a rich red color. Living with animals, witnessing the Great Migration of the wildebeest…it brings you back to prehistoric time. I was deeply touched by the families we met. They feed off their land living in very poor conditions, yet present such simple happiness. The children have smiles like no other leaving you mesmerized by their genuine kindness. It was a magical journey that I recommend everyone to experience.
C: Favorite photographer(s)?
M: To mention a few ….Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Lyle Owerko
C: What kind of photography do you prefer shooting?
M: Street Documentary & Photo Journalism.
C: What message or elements do you always try to capture in your work?
M: Realness and raw emotion.
C: What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?
M: Family comes first.
C: How would you describe your personal style and what trends are you loving right now?
M: My style varies day to day. No trends come to mind that I’m really impressed with at the moment.
C: Best part about living in NYC?
M: Diversity of the people.
C: Do you have any fashion / life icons that you admire or look up to?
M: My mother and father.
C: Describe Melanie Nataf in three words.
M: I AM SEXYMELSTER!
Ferocia!! For more information and to view more of Melanie’s work, visit www.melanienataf.com.