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Trailblazers: Up close and personal with Nastia Cloutier

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Nastia Cloutier-Ignatiev is a 19 year old portrait, fashion and beauty photographer based in Montreal. Despite her young age, she already has a roster of successful clients and an impressive Instagram following all captivated by her unique, highly vivid portraits. Fascinated by lips and eyes as well as other parts of the body, Nastia’s ability to portray simple situations in tactile, high-definition is astounding. In short: this girl SLAYS.

Hey Nastia, tell us a bit about your journey into photography.

My interest started when I was in high school and I asked for a camera for my birthday. I didn’t know anything about cameras back then, so I choose a cheap automatic Kodiak and I would take it with me to school, getting my girlfriends to pose for me in the park next door. Eventually my father offered me a DSLR but I had no idea how to use it!

At my high school we had theater classes and as my friends played roles in front of the camera, my creative process gradually developed. The issue at the time was I had the ideas, but my technique was terrible. That's why I decided to study photography and I’m so glad I made that decision because I am learning so many things which make my ideas become reality.

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How would you describe your photography style at the moment?

I would say that the eyes and lips often dictate the way I capture my images. And that my images are very up close and personal. My colour management often makes them different to other photographers’ work.

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Yeah, your vivid body shots are getting a lot of attention. Is the face something you’ve always been interested in capturing?

I always love to get close to my subjects - backgrounds often don't interest me. I am fascinated by natural textures and to me and the eyes and lips have a lot to offer in that respect.

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Who are you working with at the moment?

I am very excited about my project with MissMe, we are bringing her PussyIlluminati to life and it’s a project which is making our models and myself grow as people. We are planning to release the images in April or May and we hope they’ll be empowering to everyone else as well.

I also have a personal project in reaction to President Trump’s travel ban and the recent terrorist shooting at a mosque in Quebec. I posted a preview of it on Instagram recently.

Long term, I would like to do a project that focuses on people with birth anomalies or those as a result of sickness/accidents. Such as women who have had their breasts removed because of cancer or individuals with vitiligo. I want to show that these afflictions don’t make them less human.

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Tell us about your perfect shoot set up. Where is it, who's there, how do you work together?

My perfect shoot set-up is during the golden hour, in a field or on the beach with a clear sky. I am working with one of my favorite makeup artists; Ashley Diabo, Geneviève Hardy, or Marie-Pier Durand and the model is someone who I’ve worked with before - somebody who likes to participate in the creative process.

For me it’s important that it’s a creative photoshoot, so everybody is giving ideas and getting involved.

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What challenge would you like to overcome during the coming years?

I would like to be able to live from the images I create. I like working with clients, but commercial work is not what I want to do my whole life. I don't want to create images that are ‘just’ pretty or make people want to buy something either. I want them to have a bigger impact.

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What about your photography style - how would you like to see that develop?

I'd like my style to mature because at the moment I feel like it’s not evolving at the same pace as me as an individual. Sometimes I look at my work and I don't feel connected to it - it’s very adolescent and it attracts a young crowd. I would like to reflect more of my individual style in my work - so that it attracts people of any age.

And finally, tell us more about your studies at the moment. What are you learning on the course?

I've been on the Dawson College Programme for two and a half years now, normally it’s a three-year program, but I decided to do it in four because I don't like being rushed, and I’m not in a hurry to finish school. I am learning a lot about techniques which I never would have imagined needing when I started to be interested in photography. The course is helping me with challenges I encounter in professional situations and it’s also a great way to practice and force myself to try new things.

When it finishes I am also planning to study gender or feminist studies at university.

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