From performer to photographer, Natalie Jane’s career coincided with her background in musical theater. Though passionate for backstage action, an oncoming change began when she decided to take simple headshots. Since then, Jane’s career has transported her from the Bay Area to New York City. Seeking to capture the beauty of human connection, she has shot a multitude of subjects including NCT’s Johnny Suh and CRAVITY. Inspired by the world around her, Jane continues to find beauty in the details that remain unnoticed through her photographs.
In an exclusive interview with EnVi, Jane sat down with us to elaborate on her photography journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, memorable shoots, and what it means to capture the human essence.
Backstage to Behind the Camera
As Jane slowly began taking interest in photography in February of 2020, the beginning of her new career path began weeks before a nationwide shutdown due to COVID-19. At the time, Jane was active in the world of musical theater. With rumors of a virus and the rise of TikTok as a creative outlet, Jane began to carry around her camera backstage and offered to take headshots of her colleagues.
“I felt very called to do this, and luckily, theater people love having their photos taken. So it was really a win for everyone,” Jane said. In the following months, Jane officially began a career in photography in June of 2020. Incorporating this passion into her daily routine, the progression of her photography career emanated from the pandemic. “I don’t know if I ever really woke up one day and said photography was my new passion…It’s just now such an involved part of my life that I can’t imagine my life without photography anymore.”
Rather than looking towards a career in photography, it became a means of escapism for Jane throughout the pandemic. Photoshoots became a way to interact with fellow creatives in a time where individuals were stuck indoors. Though Jane held zero expectations for where photography would lead to, she used it as an outlet to remain cheerful in a moment of uncertainty.
As a past performer, Jane has utilized her experiences in musical theater in her photography. Offering an alternate perspective to the human experience, she brings forward a personal connection between the stage and subject. “I think that people are always looking for connections. And so if I can bring that through my lens, it’s kind of noticeable to people and I think they can appreciate that,” Jane reflected.
Moving to New York City
Upon relocating to New York City from the Bay Area, Jane recalls the relationships she has made in the endless cityscape: “Doing photography has made it so that I meet people in no other circumstances than I would have met otherwise.”
Jane welcomes genuineness through her photographs and emphasizes building connections with individuals across the city. In highlighting various subjects to feel heard and accurately represented, she centers content around emotion. As many identified with her artistic vision through word of mouth, Jane has built a supportive network across the city solely through passion.
When she attended the 2022 Met Gala, Jane photographed many well-known subjects far beyond her expectations—one being NCT’s Johnny Suh. “I didn’t know who he was but I just saw him come out and I thought he looked cool. I wanted to shoot something different and I got a lot of good feedback about my photos,” she said.
Though unfamiliar with NCT, Jane received a multitude of uplifting responses for her photographs of Johnny. Making his Met Gala debut in PETER DO, he represented the NCT brand on a different stage. Better known as a rapper and sub-vocalist in NCT 127 and NCT U projects, Johnny showed new charms in his custom look. Abiding by the Gilded Age theme, Peter Do flawlessly executes the white tie-inspired look. By modernizing the waist and trench coat silhouette, he enhances Johnny’s tall build. Many showed their support through direct messages, tweets, and more thanking Jane for her work. “I just feel so uplifted by the amount of support that I got. It’s a high that I’ve never experienced before because everyone’s just so nice to me.”
Taken aback by the opportunity to shoot at the Met Gala, Jane reflected, “Just being part of that environment and taking photos of stars was wild. I still can’t believe it.”
Shooting with CRAVITY
In May, Jane became the first photographer in the United States to shoot Starship Entertainment’s 9-member boy group CRAVITY. “They were so professional; it was probably the quickest shoot I’ve ever done,” she recalled. “They were so on top of it and they were so talented, friendly and polite,” Jane said.
While enhancing CRAVITY’s charms through her photographs, she said they utilized the outfits and studio to their strengths. “It literally felt like the lights dimmed and then a spotlight hit them as they walked through the hallway,” Jane reminisces about CRAVITY’s charms.
During the shoot Jane describes her interactions with one of the members: “I was dancing with some members of EnVi, and there was a member of CRAVITY who was watching me and began to mimic all of my dance moves. I turned around, and we jammed with each other for a second which was awsome.”
Although she was originally unfamiliar with K-pop, Jane has gotten to know many K-pop terms by shooting with CRAVITY. From learning about having a bias to what a group comeback is, Jane hopes to expand her new found knowledge into her photography career. In doing so, she hopes to work with more Korean artists in the future.
Moving to Future Goals
Reflecting on her career as a whole, Jane views her journey as a compilation of building blocks. Despite her doubts as a photographer, she considers each shoot to be a learning experience for future endeavors. As each opportunity connects the next, Jane said everything is where it is meant to be.
Jane remains grateful for all who have supported her career, especially because she values human connection above all else. “It makes me almost not be able to speak just how thankful I am to everyone and everything.”
With future goals to become the first photographer to do a fashion campaign in space, Jane awaits many adventures to come, as she noted, “I’m accepting whatever comes my way.” By shooting various subjects over the last few months, she has uncovered parts of herself that will allow her to grow, both as an individual and a photographer.
“I love people so much. I love learning about them and creating friendships with people. I like how creating nourishes my soul, but now it’s very obvious to me,” Jane said.
If you want to follow Natalie Jane’s activities don’t forget to check out her website and Instagram!
Want more Creative Spotlight content? Check out EnVi’s exclusive interview with Jessica Wu, the PR Director of PETER DO here!