INTERVIEW: Natalie Aguayo
on life through a lens
The CVAS: What city did you grow up in?
NA: La Quinta
How has that city influenced you and your art?
NA: Most of my current photographs are of the desert surrounding La Quinta, so it has influenced me greatly. I remember taking hikes and exploring the desert at a really young age. The desert environment instilled a love of nature and exploration in me. My brother and I would catch toads as little kids, I’m not sure where they went, I don’t see them anymore. I’ve watched the desert change in subtle ways. My city is beautiful and unique.
When did you first pick up a camera and start making magic with it?
NA: I would use the family video camera as a kid, but as far as photography goes, I bought my DSLR senior year of college and have been hooked ever since.
How has your style and subject matter evolved?
NA: My environment very much shapes my subject matter. Travel and landscape photography have been a natural compulsion. I also enjoy concert photography because I love music. I’ve begun experimenting with different filters, overlays, angles and perspectives. I feel like I’ve just started and I have so much more I want to do. There’s always something new to learn when it comes to photography, and I’m always experimenting with the technology.
When and how did you get into Video Art? What’s the most exciting part about it?
NA: I taught myself how to use Final Cut Pro and found that I really loved editing. I began making music videos for musician friends without them even asking. I’d use random footage that I had shot and didn’t know what to do with, then alter it to what I wanted through editing. Music really influences my artistic vision. When I hear a song I like, the thought of making visuals for it always comes to mind. That’s how video art began for me. It’s really amazing to make something out of nothing, that’s exciting.
Why do you do what you do? What is it that you want to share with the world?
NA: I love the Visual Arts. I want to share whatever comes out of me. I’d like to help people in some way, make them feel better, be inspiring to others, promote creativity.
Walk us through a photographic experience with you…. is there a specific time of day? A specific trail?
NA: It has been a pretty spontaneous adventure so far. I do love to go out around the golden hours, that’s when you’ll get beautiful shots, but I’ll go out whenever I feel like it and adjust to whatever the natural light might be. I like the freedom of finding a good shot at anytime of day and anywhere. There are so many trails. Mostly around the La Quinta Cove, Bear Creek Trail, Bighorn Overlook, Bump-n-Grind. Sometimes I’ll even make my own trails. There are others in Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage, I forget all their names. The trails by the Living Desert are great too.
What catches your eye?
NA: Shapes, colors, people, places….everything.
From your perspective, what was the Coachella Valley’s art/music scene like before you left to college?
NA: I knew about the music scene because my older brother had been in a few punk bands and I’d hang around him and his friends, ha. I wasn’t really aware of much of an art scene besides the Palm Springs art Museum. In high school I was pretty focused on academia and didn’t go out much. When I moved home from college, I was really delighted to see how the art and music scene had evolved. Not just the Ace Hotel and Coachella festival, but all of the amazing people that live here. Just super impressed and inspired by all of the talented artists and musicians I have met. I’m happy to be a part of it now.
In college you studied Film and Media at UC Santa Barbara. When you left the Coachella Valley for that time period, how did you see the desert? What were your feelings for the desert from far away?
NA: The desert has always been home, it’s what I know and love. It’s also where I go to get away from the rest of the world, ha. When I was living in Los Angeles post -college, I realized how much I loved the desert. Before leaving to college it was sort of a boring place I couldn’t wait to escape, but now that I’m older and have lived many places, I realize how lucky I am to have grown up here.
When and why did you return?
NA: I can think better here.
Now that you are older, educated, cultured and wiser… what’s your current perspective on life in the Coachella Valley?
NA: I want to be involved and contribute to the growing arts and music scene. It’s a growing valley.
Some see the desert as a very calm, desolate place….you see it as chaotic? Why?
NA: I think nature in general is pretty chaotic, especially the desert. Besides extreme weather, wind storms, etc., the desert has so many walks of life. Humans have taken over and we have tried making it less chaotic, with our grass and air conditioning. I try to stay away from manicured land. I like seeing the dead overgrown shrubs intertwining with new, natural life. It seems chaotic to me.
I’ve seen on Facebook that you have traveled the world? What kind of impact did this have on you? What did you take away from that experience?
NA: Yes, I studied abroad in Rome for a semester, then travelled throughout Europe. Italy was so inspiring; the history, culture, architecture, learning a new language (that I’ve since forgotten). Just being on my own in foreign territory was a huge growing up process and a boost of confidence and knowledge of the world. I met amazing people who shared their culture with me and I shared mine with them. It was a wonderful experience that is still influencing the way I think about the world.
Most shocking thing you’ve come across on a hike?
Rattlesnake inches away from my feet! (Wearing sandals in the desert is a bad idea.) I was oblivious until I looked down. It was a close one.
Most beautiful thing you’ve come across on a hike?
Quail babies following their mama.
Best place to think?
Walking in nature.
Favorite time of day?
Favorite type of camera?
I use my phone just as much as my Nikon. All cameras are equal, it’s how you use them.
Favorite form of dehydration?
These pretzels are making me thirsty.
When do you know you’ve “lost it”?
When I can’t find it.
Photos taken under water or high above?
Both perspectives side by side.
A beautiful face or a beautiful place?
A beautiful face in a beautiful place.
Information about the Outside in Here art show:
Links to Natalie:
http://masconmilk.tumblr.com/ (we have been following this blog for a long time – Love it)