A Conversation with International Photographer Nataly Levich
When Nataly Levich was kicked out of her French school for being too much of a rebel, she enrolled in the nearby art school. It was there that she discovered her passion for photography. In this interview, Nataly shares about her move from New York to Tel Aviv, what inspires her, her advice for women who are following their passion, and more.
Nataly, we are awed by your photographs. What inspired you to start shooting?
When I was fifteen years old, I was kicked out of my junior high Alliance Francaise in Tel Aviv because I was too much of rebel and didn’t really fit into the system. My only nearby option was an art school that offered photography as a major. This school was not too keen on accepting me either because of my low grades. I had an interview where I was asked the reason for why I should be accepted into the photography department, so I told them that photography is the only way I will be able to express myself. I was accepted, discovered film, the darkroom and fell in love, no logical explanations. I knew that this is what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Would you share a bit about your story for Pink Pangea readers who have not yet come across your work?
I was born in Israel and moved to New York when I was 16. And then I came back to Israel five years ago in 2010. I came back to Israel because of my deep longing for home. I no longer had a spiritual reason to be in New York, and I had no inspiration to take photographs there. Israel became a bubble of inspiration for me, and since my return to Israel, I have dedicated myself to going on journeys to seek out new places and new people, and to learn something new about the place of my origins.
What (if anything) did you find challenging about moving to Israel?
My biggest challenge about moving to Israel is finding work in photography that pays well, and people who appreciate the significance of photography in our society and in the arts. Everything is much smaller here, so we don’t have access to the museums and galleries that New York has to offer. On the other hand, my inspiration to photograph is here in Israel, so I can’t really complain.
What do you love most about living in Israel? Do you miss New York?
I love Israel because it feels like home and it never stops to inspire me. As much as I cannot stand the mentality at times, I have met the most incredible people in my life here. Of course my family keeps me here, as well as the food, sea and weather. Israel is amazing and I cannot really imagine myself living anywhere else at this point. Only recently after being away from New York for five years I began to miss it, particularly the museums, galleries, several colleagues of mine and the energy of the city.
We love your photographs! What awakens creativity?
Thank you so much for appreciating my work. I am mostly inspired by escaping to nature and discovering something new about the place where I live. I tend to go on journeys to far away places, where I like to meet new people, ways of life and new landscapes. The mere fact of being in Israel inspires me to go out and take photos. I am fascinated by this place and how much I do not know about it. This region is flooded with subjects waiting to be photographed and shared with the world.
Tell us about the projects you are currently working on.
I am working on a project related to natural water sources: springs, wells, sea, rivers, etc. I am interested in people’s interaction with the water and the actual landscape and history of where the sources are located. People have a tendency to think that we don’t have much water here in Israel, however there is quite a lot of it.
What do you think holds women back from taking on projects that they are passionate about? Do you have have any advice for anyone who is thinking about doing it?
The only thing that holds us back from pursuing our projects is fear of not being successful or that we are not good enough. This attitude prevents us from pursuing our dreams and keeps us behind. One should always stick to their true self and follow their heart. Just like in a yoga class it doesn’t really matter what other practitioners are doing on their mat, and you should let your heart lead you in your practice. Believe in yourself, stay dedicated to what you love and push it forward without a doubt. Also I don’t necessarily believe in creating work that is trendy and commercial. It seems less authentic to me, and over time, less valuable.
What’s next for you?
Well, I still have a long way, possibly a year to complete my work related to water and landscapes here in Israel. Also, I am ready to begin exhibiting my work, so the gallery search begins for me in New York this upcoming fall. Wish me luck!
Photo credits: Nataly Levich