Baku-based photographer Natavan Vahabova has distinguished herself in both commercial and artistic realms. After graduating from the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts in Baku, her practice began with graphic design and illustration with a strong focus on photography. A member of the Azerbaijani Union of Photographers since 2004, she is the recipient of various local and international prizes including winning the international ‘My Country in the Eastern Partnership’ photography competition in 2014. Natavan’s artistic practice has been recognized in exhibitions such as the ‘Azerbaijan Through the Lens’ photography competition at the Pall Mall Gallery in London, UK in 2012 and more recently in Yay Gallery’s group exhibition of contemporary photography in Baku in 2018. Her commercial work is highly sought-after and respected – her photography has appeared in Baku, Aile and Passage magazines and she her work was included in the Austrian photo book ‘Children.’ She has done editorial photography for Azerbaijani jewelry house Resm, interior and lifestyle design company Chelebi, fashion label MMMDN (Ma Mère m’a dit Non)
and winemaker Savalan, among others. She is currently working on a series of portraiture and using photography to explore Azerbaijani social and domestic life.
Natavan’s success lies in her ability to capture a narrative arc through a single photograph – her images encompass a lifetime of emotions and experiences. At the heart of her work is her passion for using her lens to tell stories. In a series of recent photographic works, she captures the ‘behind the scenes’ view of various events – models backstage during fashion week, dancers preparing for a performance, a young women’s volleyball team, or a film crew shooting a commercial, as a way to humanize the effort behind what we often see as a final product. By showing the layers of work that go into these moments, we can see the impact of the people that help to make these things happen, which is often otherwise unacknowledged. In another recent series of portraiture, she captures images of artists in their studios – sometimes in conversation, sometimes posing with their work – but focusing on the personality of the artist as a way to illuminate their creative process. The portraits are intimate and raw, revealing the inner life behind the eyes of the artist. In her documentary photographic work, she focuses on small details of every day life – light and shadow, texture, shifts in perspective – using muted, nostalgic color tones to highlight the emotional soul of her subjects. People appear in her work as individuals relating to the environment around them with dignity and presence, as they each possess their own story. She captures moments of play and interaction but also moments of pensive contemplation and reflection. Natavan’s empathy and artistic vision is clear in her work – she seeks to invite viewers relate to the people of her photograph, finding the common humanity in all of us.