I had the honor of photographing Natalie Kuhn at the Lands End Labyrinth in San Francisco and I’m so excited to let you in on our journey of creating artful portraiture together.
Natalie teaches The Class, an incredible physical and spiritual experience if you ever have a chance to attend, I’d highly encourage you. It’s about raw movement and letting go of everything that holds us back. From jumping jacks to burpees and a few uninhibited (and remarkably cleansing) screams in between — it’s truly transformational.
The morning of our shoot, I woke up to a cloudy sky and felt deep excitement knowing that we could create moody portraiture at high noon. It was our one chance to work together before Natalie went back to New York, so I was thankful that nature was conspiring for us.
The wind chilled us as we made our way to the labyrinth. While Lands End is a popular San Francisco tourist attraction, it’s also a spiritual place of reflection and meditation. We waited for our turn and were able to create by ourselves for a few moments – connecting without distractions.
Working with Natalie was truly a gift. Through her career spent acting, dancing, teaching exercise and meditation, and helping others — she’s become a centered, grounded, confident person. A deep soul who is wise beyond her years and an absolute joy to be around.
As I watched her, I saw the beauty in her boldness. Natalie energized me. She has a fierce soul and fearless spirit that is pure love. Watching her, you are inspired to become stronger physically and spiritually.
She was completely unafraid to be herself. She was not shy, but radically comfortable in her skin. She carried clarity and presence with every movement and motion of her body. The way that she communicates without words is something all artists long for.
Every single shot felt like we were creating true art, not just snapping pictures. As you see in the images of her with the pink skirt, her movement is fluid and powerful. Her years of dance were infused into every photograph.
The necklace she wore carried symbolism and added depth to the artistic vision for this session. It was actually mine. I bought it years ago for my home from Via Diva. I literally grabbed it at the last second as I was walking out the door to meet her. The necklace is a replica piece traditionally used in Papua New Guinea for wedding ceremonies and those endowed with the healing powers of the Shaman.
Natalie herself has Shamanic qualities, so to see her embrace the emotion and spiritual presence of a healer in these images was powerful. It felt right.
This is a powerful landscape image and a powerful portrait at the same time. It felt perfect for her. It conveyed her finding herself while being lost in the perspective of others.
She’s soft and delicate like a butterfly contrasted by the dark and jagged woods behind her. She proudly radiates from her feminine soul and isn’t afraid of the darkness.
Pink Skirt: Mr Pretty
Necklace: Via Diva
Location: Lands End, San Francisco, CA
A note about the labyrinth: A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey to our own center and back out into the world. They have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. The Land’s End Labyrinth was created by Eduardo Aguilera in 2004.