Photographers in Focus: Natalie Obermaier

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I've focused on a few other photographers here on the blog, including Troy Paiva and his amazing night photography, and Garry Winogrand's legendary street work. This time I'd like to focus on a friend of mine, Natalie Obermaier, who just happens to be an amazing photographer. What I find interesting about her work as a whole is that she has two completely different styles; if you saw examples of each side by side, you might never guess they were created by the same person. Foremost, perhaps, are her subtle but touching black-and-white portraits (the subject of a recent gallery show in San Francisco), which artlog describes as "studies of children [which] evoke the modern malaise of growing up too quickly."

Her subjects are marooned but coping in a world of lawns and floods and raking afternoon light where adults have left them to fend for themselves. Obermaier maintains a light touch; she seems to have just arrived on the scene, never contriving and never judging. Her effect is modest, but her impact is profound.

That is, photos like this (titled, aptly, "flood"):
08buoy.jpg

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Natalie creates these eye-popping, hypercolor images created with a home-brewed combination of processes which I think she considers a trade secret (and rightly so):
carps_barnacles.jpg

First, let's look at her black and white work.

01freddiesdoodle.jpg

"Freddie's Doodle"

12rogue_crow.jpg

"Rogue Crow"

wave.jpg

"Wave"

serpent.jpg

"Serpent"

matthew.jpg

"Matthew"

hoop.jpg

"Hoop"

sartor_resartus.jpg

"Sartor Resartus"

If want to see more, there's plenty to be found at Natalie's website.

Now for the color work. It reminds me a wee bit of HDR photography, except the effect is grittier and more freeform, and the subjects are way more interesting (the subjects of HDR photographs, which require the photographer to take multiple pictures of still objects from a tripod, are usually big, picture-postcard landscapes ... yawn. These, on the other hand, have all the naturalistic immediacy of street photography.)

dragon.jpg

"Dragon"

francesca_rose.jpg

"Francesca Rose"

maya_cubed.jpg

"Maya Cubed"

idaho.jpg

"Idaho"

heavier_things_remain.jpg

"Heavier Things Remain"

cocoon.jpg

"Cocoon"

carter.jpg

"Carter"

skate.jpg

"Skate"

mr_horsepower.jpg

"Mr. Horsepower"

April 29, 2009 - 7:20am
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