"I always knew I was an artist- it just took me 30 years to get it right. Though I was passionate about working in a creative field, I was not sure exactly how to achieve that goal"
Bethany Nauert is a Los Angeles based photographer that specializes in interior spaces + architecture + portraits. Over the course of the last two years, her career has exploded, and she has taken over photos of over 150+ homes for various publications. When I was doing research for a project last Spring, I kept noticing her name on many of the photographs I was looking at. She has photographed incredible homes + lofts, and some of my favorite Los Angeles showrooms: Obsolete, Lawson-Fenning, and Silver Lake's Mohawk General Store.
I called her up, and we eventually had a long conversation one afternoon over lunch about her career path and her quarter life crisis, and her love/hate relationship with the city that finally welcomed her years after she left.
Thank you Bethany... - David John
Were you always fascinated by design?
Yes, as a matter of fact in grade school I thought wanted to be an architect. I was always reading my parents architectural and design magazines, studying the floor plans and illustrations. I would take a floor plan from one of the magazines, draw a house to go with it, and then draw a photo of the people who live inside the house. I would love to create a whole story about the people that supposedly lived there.
Talk about your quarter life crisis, and how it led you into your current career as a photographer?
I always knew I was an artist- it just took me 30 years to get it right. Though I was passionate about working in a creative field, I was not sure exactly how to achieve that goal and if I really wanted to be a photographer. I left San Francisco after graduation and impulsively decided to move to New York. After two years, several emotional shoot-outs and a few subway induced panic attacks I realized that something was seriously not right. I think in the two years I was there, I maybe did 3 photo shoots total. I worked for a really reputable photographers agency and took some day jobs that were less desirable but paid the bills. However I was exhausted, depleted actually so I moved back to California.
I got a great job working with a commercial photographer in Petaluma, so I moved my way through Berkeley, Oakland and then finally to Santa Rosa. It was during this incredibly dark year, I had to not only rebuild my portfolio but I had been dealing with the end of horrible relationship. I think I sunk all my energy into this personal relationship so that I didn’t have to deal with working on my career. I may or may not have been running away from myself.
I made the decision to move to Los Angeles, in 2006. The irony of all my moves around the country, is that Los Angeles is two hours from my home town San Diego, so perhaps that’s why I tried to go everywhere but here.
This past year has been hugely successful because I replaced any social life or any resemblance of a lover with my obsession of photography. I have no sense of weekend, I work 7 days a week. It literally consumes me, and that's ok for right now.
The attraction to interior spaces?
My interest in interior spaces started with the admiration I felt for a well designed and decorated bedroom. I believe I’ve shot about 150 homes in the past year; the intrigue still lies in the details of a person’s home, and the stories that each room can tell about a person or the family.
Are there any specific homes and/ or spaces you remember?
The most significant house tour I’ve shot so far is the home of Sabrina Ward Harrison. About 10 years ago still in college, I discovered her book “Spilling Open” and it profoundly changed my life. It had such an effect on my own artwork as I began to create with more vulnerability and was less worried about technique. Finally this year I got the guts to send her an email and introduce myself for a house tour. It was incredible to visit the home of someone who impacted your work so greatly. We’ve actually become great friends from the experience, which of course is invaluable.
Projects you are currently involved?
I’m continuously seeking diverse homes to photograph. Not only do I keep my eye out for exceptional spaces for Apartment Therapy, but I’d love to be able to submit them to other publications such as Interiors Magazine, Angeleno Interiors and Dwell magazine. I love shooting for web, but I still have the desire to be featured in print. My most recent shoot for print was a downtown loft tour for Design Bureau Magazine, I ended up in a private infinity pool that overlooked Pershing Square.
Another challenge I’m giving myself right now are creative and lifestyle portraits. I want to shoot real people, artists, designers, influential thinkers and tastemakers. A bulk of my portraits were taken as part of house tours, and I’d love to expand on this section of my portfolio. One project that is near and dear to my heart, (which I am limited to speak about right now) - soon after meeting Sabrina she asked me to shoot some various things for her including her portrait. I’m so grateful because I am going to be part of her next book, with a couple photographic contributions.
Bethany Nauert's site here..