|One is from Columbus, Ohio, the other from Sydney, Australia. One is American, the other Salvadorean, yet both are women with contrasting talents. On a cold December afternoon last year in a Harlem loft apartment, those talents would merge to create art. Photographer/ Journalist Sarah Laubacher has built a respectable body of work while working for newspapers in Ohio while desiring to pursue her art in new York. Natalia Segura is a singer/actress/ model came to New York to seek fame and possible fortune. Together they raised the bar on how the human body can be expressed, one behind the lens, the other, exposed fully in front of it.|
One is from Columbus, Ohio, the other from Sydney, Australia. One is American, the other Salvadorean, yet both are women with contrasting talents. On a cold December afternoon last year in a Harlem loft apartment, those talents would merge to create art. Photographer/ Journalist Sarah Laubacher has built a respectable body of work while working for newspapers in Ohio while desiring to pursue her art in new York. Natalia Segura is a singer/actress/ model came to New York to seek fame and possible fortune. Together they raised the bar on how the human body can be expressed, one behind the lens, the other, exposed fully in front of it. Natalia has been an art admirer and gave some thoughts about the topic. “I’ve always enjoyed artistic photographs. I think there is a beauty in the body of a woman and of course in the similarities of a guitar. The way a guitarist handles his or her instrument is a beautiful thing. My father, being an artist, exposed me to beautiful paintings by famous artists and appreciating the calming effect the human body has no matter what size, shape, or form.”
Sarah agreed, “I liked the idea because I’ve always liked retro playboy, pin-up kind of thing. I thought it would be fun in that respect. But I also wanted to make sure it did not turn out clique. Natalia is so beautiful anyway that nothing could really go wrong.”
Orange is the predominant color in this spacious apartment, with large windows overseeing the rooftops of adjoining buildings. It was adorned with props along the walls, on the ground, including an old credenza, which stores an old turntable inside that contained old record covers. This piece of vintage furniture would serve as the focus of this photo shoot.“The location was in a really cool apartment. It had random paintings laying about as it belonged to someone half moving in, half moving out so seeing someone’s treasures laying about really gave me an artistic feel.”
”This was the first apartment that I lived in New York. Thuis was in September 2008. I moved in with my friend Stephanie. I did lot of live music and photography and freelancing. I worked in a theatre company as well. I think thats were I get in that mode, having had been photographed often myself. We had that old record player. I favored the playboy images of the 60’s where the woman would be surrounded by a bunch of nick-nacks in whatever bedroom she was in. A wicker furniture and scarfs, old pictures. I wanted to give it a try and it turned out different.”
The intent of this session was to assemble a series of photos that would celebrate the beauty and mystery of the female form. Artist Natalia Segura, who would conduct the shoot partly clad, but mostly nude with her guitar as her main prop and only cover. “I was happy that it contoured by body well. I also had a few shots with a small electric guitar which was fun, too. But it shouldn’t matter the size of the instrument if the placement is done right,” added Natalia.
Natalia has never been photographed by a woman. Even with Sarah and her assistant friend who is also female, posing nude for the first time can still be a breathtaking experience at first. Natalia’s nervous laughter was an indication of this. But it is Sarah job to calm the waters. “You have to have a mix of professionalism and comfort at the same time. You have to be able to tell the person what you want them to do. That can be awkward if you don’t have any chemistry.I like to hang with the person a bit first. I felt like we were friendly right away. We are around the same age. I like to make it like they don’t notice that I am there. At the end it felt like girls hanging out having a good time in the apt.”
To fear is all too human and the issues are not always on one side of the camera. Sarah was a magazine journalism major at Ohio University. Taking design classes and film photography. She eventually worked for daily newspapers but found them limiting due to the region at large and a shyness that cropped up at the worst of times. The desire to go live in New York was a way of facing her fears and reaching the potential within.”I’m only 5’1 and that keeps me from getting all the good angles. At concerts its difficult because there are people in front of me.” Going so far as to climb on top of an old six-foot tall wooden ladder to get the angle she wanted.”I wanted to get as much of that room as possible. Its like a voyager looking at her own environment. To get the whole body in the shot while she is holding the guitar was necessary y to capture that.”
Natalia is in a good place now. Mentally she is calling upon the experience she has had in front of the camera that has always been kind to her. She is on the credenza at this point, hair falling off her shoulder. She is strumming her guitar peacefully. She looks straight into the camera and one wonders, What is she thinking? That is the mystery and the question that remains unanswered.”Natalia explains, “It’s always a little hard to get into the zone with a bunch of people surrounding you whilst naked and finding strategic positions to place the guitar and naked body for the picture, but if you focus on the photographer it will come. I’m mot sure at what point I was in the zone, but I was definitely there.”
Sarah adds, “I would find that I had several levels of anxiety in front of the camera. I will be at a show and get social anxiety. I don’t feel shy except when people are watching you take shots. After a while though I get warmed up and you don’t care who is watching me take photos, its natural-interesting-frisky.”
Natalia is now wearing an orange Farah Fawcett T-shirt, vintage 70’s. She is surrounded by various props. She is shot looking at record covers and playing the turntable. This is an effect that Sarah wanted to capture that contrasted against previous shoots. “She seemed very posed and formal in previous shoots. They were gorgeous and she looked like she could be in a Victoria’s Secret catalog. I also wanted to do something that showed a more accessible side of her. She seemed intimidating so I wanted to get a series that sort of made like she was hanging out in her apartment.” Natalia was in total agreement. “My favorite prop was the old record player. They had all these old records and lava lamps and covers that have inspired me in the past in my music. The Beatles, love story, Chaka Khan. It was cool to see them all laid about. The Record player seems so obsolete but that’s the way it was back then. It’s fascinating how that technology is as foreign to me as an i-pod would be to them now.”
For Natalia she was open as the city she is from, Sydney, Australia, which is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. Having been born by a twist of fate , fueled by a civil war in her country, Natalia has always been attracted by the non-mundane. “I was still in my mothers belly when Amnesty International offered Australia as a place to go. It has a small Latino community but it makes itself known.
Natalia leaves with a deep breath and smile. She is feeling well and accomplished on this day. She conquered a natural fear and pushed the envelope. “I would never have done it if I was going to regret it, nor did I do it for a career gain. It was more personal and I have always wanted to do something for none other than the practice of art.” Sarah is sitting on her sofa reviewing her work. “When you take photos for newspapers you cannot pose anyone, you have to do it as is, this is why I enjoyed this shoot more than I thought I would. She has captured the essence of this artist and together they created something artistic. Two women. The power of trust and the evidence that justified it all.