Early this spring fashion photographer Natalie J Watts made her way over the pond from London to NYC in hopes of getting inspired and doing a few amazing projects. One of them was a story for Ben Trovato.
“Initially, the shoot concept came from a discussion between Michelle (makeup artist) and myself before we both jetted off individually from London to NYC. We knew that we wanted to capture the energy and mystery of the big city in a nighttime shoot,” Natalie tells us.
They discussed the story in detail and decided that the dominant figure should be a female model in a 30s/40s-style tale of secret clubs and gritty hotels.
“The colors and lights of a city at night were strong reference points and I wanted this to be juxtaposed with black and dark garments. Movement and energy were to surround the models; posed very still and serene-like, almost like shadows blending into the night,” she continues.
Playing the dominant female in Room 1723a is Russian former ballerina Dinara Chetyrova at Muse, joined by male model Bradley Souileau at Red NYC.
“Although having only been signed to his agency a couple of months previous, Bradley took direction really well and there was a great sense of intimacy between the models throughout the shoot. Both were extremely easy-going and thankfully didn’t mind the frequent walks back to the hotel for costume changes. Dinara – formerly a Russian ballet dancer – being the more experienced of the two took the stronger posing in the ‘together’ shots, which fitted the shoot concept perfectly.”
Natalie and makeup artist Michelle Webb knew each other well from before and have done numerous shoots together in the past. The rest of the team included stylist Ise White, hair stylist Kyra Dorman, and assistants Jermaine Clarke (photo) and Jill Freeman (makeup).
“Despite being very different to (and not as easy as!) organizing a shoot in London, the team pulled together wonderfully. Michelle and I had as said worked together before, though for the rest of the team it was a new experience. Each team member took the shoot concept on board and brought their own contemporary twist to the notion of nostalgia,” Natalie explains.
We asked stylist Ise White to comment on the story: “- The choice of location was an old NYC hotel, One I had passed by often but had never been into. The old industrial paint and avocado green bed – at one point this place must have been beautiful. The only sign of it being so was the number on the door and the butler shelf on the door. Once upon a time this place was beautiful, so to use a tattooed model to go with it was appropriate and beautiful.”
Natalie J Watts’ journey up the professional latter might have been a slightly more eventful and tougher one than that of the regular fashion photographer. But as most creatives, her passion came to life at an early age: “- Santa brought me my first camera for Christmas when I was 7 years old and I took a LOT of photos growing up. After having a baby at 18, I put myself through college and then University where I became involved in the Burlesque scene. I began photographing live shows and moved on to more staged shoots. Many of my models would be performers, which led to vintage and pin-up clothing companies noticing my work and asking me to shoot for them. After graduating, I moved to London and worked for ASOS.com for 2 years, where my personal work took more of a high fashion direction. Though much of my photography is now for commercial clients I still like to keep a darker edge to personal creative projects.”
Photography by Natalie J Watts
Styling by Ise White @ Artists By Timothy Priano
Makeup by Michelle Webb using Mac Pro
Hair by Kyra Dorman @ Artists By Timothy Priano using Tigi Bed head
Photography assistant – Jermaine Clarke
Makeup assistant – Jill Freeman
Models – Dinara Chetyrova @ Muse and Bradley Souileau @ Red NYC