Working with Natalia in Basel

This is a kind of introduction to a person you’ll also meet at my photo site in the future – Natalia B, a Russian born in 1988 that I take pictures of. Here is the story, or rather the beginning of it – and a little about why I am fascinated by this type of photography.

I teach peace and conflict resolution at the World Peace Academy in Basel every now and then. I was there last week. I meet so many young people there from all over the world – 30 in the room from about 25 countries…it gives me hope for the future. But we should never say that it is up to the young ones to take over; we should say that it is our duty to make it easy for them to succeed us, rather than leaving behind a world in a mess.

In late 2010 my wife, Christina, and I participated in a conference in Berlin and met a lot of bright young students, one of them being Natalia B from Russia. She is a student of European Studies at Basel University and has generously accepted to let me take photos of her.

Although she does not have a lot of experience in front of a camera – or rather perhaps because she doesn’t – I find her both very interesting, diverse in expressions and very easy to work with. What we decide to do is rather spontaneous, no big equipment, lamps and stuff, rather simple clothes. And little instruction. It keeps things relaxed and we enjoy it and laugh a lot.

She is 22 and has got a lot of natural beauty. By “natural” I mean the kind of beauty that emmanates from the inside, from the personality, and shines through to the outside – which is what I am interested in as a photographer.

That is my dream with my informal photo agency in Burundi in which 8 beautiful young university students participate: that they can one day become a small firm, sell pictures we have taken locally and earn much-needed cash on what they do. See some of them here.

Time being limited and the weather being so-so, we decided to shoot some raw photos at the Jean Tinguely Museum – one of those where it is OK to take pictures, fortunately.

Here is just one of hundreds of raw pictures I’ve taken of Natalia; she is next to one of a group of large colourful metal sculptures by John Chamberlein:


© Jan Oberg 2011

I’m working on a series of her, soon to be published at my home page.

It looks like our ways converge because Natalia will soon become an intern at the culturescape institution that uses art as a way of creating mutual understanding across the world.

I sincerely hope we have started something important for years to come. And that you will like what we create together – and consider buying one since we have agreed that 33% of the sales from my gallery goes to her.




Would love to read your views, ideas or suggestions here

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