We’re fans of Natalie Kucken’s dreamy photography that always seem to be taking place in a golden-haze filled world of adventure and wonder. So, we were thrilled when she agreed to an interview. Below read about some of her firsts and an interesting dream she had.
ATOMY: Since our theme this month is firsts, let’s start with a couple of those. What was your first camera?
NATALIE: My first camera was a silly Olympus point and shoot, I don’t remember where it came from. I count this as my first camera because I shot with it when I started a 365 project which is the reason I take photos today. That was in 2009, when I was fourteen. I didn’t get my first DSLR for months and months after I started it.
ATOMY: Do you remember the subject on your first roll of film?
NATALIE: When I first bought my own 35mm SLR it was when I had just moved into my new house two or three years ago. I shot the changes in my life, my old house’s empty rooms, the boxes stacked in my new living room, the furniture sitting outside the front door, my room’s floor covered with newspaper and paint trays with the blue tape across the walls’ edges.
ATOMY: Your photographs often seem unreal, like a fantasy—what are some of your favorite fairy tales?
NATALIE: I don’t have any actual fairy tales that come to mind, my fairy tales are things from my childhood like The Tales of Beatrix Potter, I am in love with those and they feel like my favorite fairy tales to me.
ATOMY: You call your blog “the diary of a young dream collector;” will you share an interesting dream you’ve had?
NATALIE: Last night I had a dream that I was in the passenger’s seat of a car that was full of these puffy flowers, overflowing with them all over the floor and seats and dashboard and hanging from the ceiling. The car was being driven by someone I can’t remember through Chicago, only it looked more like a town from the video game Super Mario Sunshine (I know this’ll be lost on most people ha) and there were giant fans hanging from telephone poles and other huge installments that made no sense everywhere. There were weddings going on on every other block on the streets, and the mystery person that was driving with me kept trying to talk but I was too busy looking out of the windows. That’s all I can remember now, I’m sure later in the day I’ll start to remember more of it. I love my dreams and dreams in general.
ATOMY: I always find where I live from the weather to the surroundings have a huge effect on my mood and thus my work; do you think living in Michigan has influenced your style of photography?
NATALIE: I think the weather has definitely influenced my work- in Michigan we have all four seasons, very hot summers and endless cloudy winters. Dealing with winter for six months out of the year has been a huge challenge and I’ve learned to be able to work in the cold and snow with models in summer clothes. It’s interesting to work with and adds to my work and experience, shooting would be no fun if all I tried to shoot in were perfect outdoor conditions, all of my work would be sunny and warm. It’s more gloomy and frothy most of the time.
ATOMY: Your photographs feel like the beginnings or aftermath of an adventure—do you weave a story in your head before you even begin shooting?
NATALIE: I always have some sort of story planned way ahead of time- sometimes every frame is planned out and has a meaning and sometmies I go with everything I had planned for the shoot and make the story up as I go, or it changes as I’m shooting. Most of the time it’s a vague feeling that I try to represent through clothes and a location and directing, or I’m inspired by a certain thing or experience that I try to recreate or represent in a different way.