Pluck a clever, peripherally observant, and beautiful woman from the world. Literally any part of the world—far or near, rich or rare, physical or internet. A skyward follower count is not a determinant for selection. Ask her a set of questions that invite a discussion of sexuality, sensuality, modern feminism, career, and creativity, explored through her very personal lens. Have her answer them. And there you have it: that’s In Touch, a Par Femme segment, assembled, for you, with pleasure.
Sydney-based photographer Natalia Parsonson is a delight to be around. If you’re unable to corroborate this claim by meeting her in person, plenty of evidence can be found simply by flicking through the archives of her transcendental work (or, you know, scrolling her Instagram feed). Her subjects—often female, always creative— appear relaxed and at-ease in front of her lens, a result of her unwavering commitment to building trust and dialogue when shooting.
To celebrate her latest photographic series (made in collaboration with florist Anais Delebarre and model Flavia Lazarus, and available to buy exclusively on Par Femme), we chatted to Natalia about vulnerability, the link between flowers and the female form, and the women she admires most. Here goes!
What does an average day in the life of Natalia Parsonson look like?
Coffee, work, chill.
Flowers are undeniably erotic. Can you explain in your own words why this is so?
Perhaps because they are delicate, complex, intriguing and beautiful.
What initially drew you to photography as a medium?
My dad was a photographer and my mum was a stylist, model and makeup artist. I was exposed to that world at a very young age, however never really knew I’d explore photography myself until much later in life… I loved playing dress ups and posing in pics, but my photos were just happy snaps of friends and family—I never saw it as an art form for myself back then. I just wanted to capture people laughing and being themselves, and have those memories to look back on.
Many years later, after studying fashion design and travelling, I was working in the art department at Chic Model Management, and was encouraged to get into photography by Ursula Hufnagl and the beautiful team there. I’ve been enjoying this journey ever since.
I think one thing that really stands out with your photography is how comfortable your subjects are; as an audience, you really feel that symbiosis. How do you achieve this?
I’m so happy this translates—it’s a really important aspect for me, perhaps even the most important. It’s scary to have a camera pointed at you, and it involves a lot of trust. Communication and sensitivity need to play a huge part here. I like to check in with who I’m working with on the day to see how they are feeling, what they may need from me, where they’ve come from, and what’s going on in their world. If they are not comfortable, then I’m not comfortable, and we can’t make something special happen.
How did you develop your soft, feminine aesthetic? Do you refer to movies, books, places, or past eras for inspiration?
It’s lovely to hear that I have an aesthetic which is perceived in this way. None of it has been particularly developed on purpose. I’m definitely drawn to vulnerability. I love things to be raw and natural, but I also love fantasy, so movies and faraway places definitely have a huge influence on me. We are so open and easily-influenced during our youth, so I refer to the music and emotions from that time often.
What does photography communicate for you what words can’t?
It can communicate so much all at once, which is cool. Perhaps it can communicate a dream, which is sometimes difficult to explain with words.
Your latest project for Par Femme is breathtakingly beautiful! When did the idea come to you, and what were you hoping to explore?
I’m truly flattered, thank you! It was all quite fluid, really. Mon invited me to come up with some imagery to represent Par Femme, and we started talking a lot about our inspirations; favourite books, music and film. I tend to draw inspiration from pop culture in the 80s and 90s, which impacted me immensely in my childhood and teen years. When I saw Flavia (on Instagram), she embodied my nostalgic notion of beauty so perfectly, but more importantly, she’s the kind of woman whose beauty is, to me, current and futuristic, simultaneously.
How did you work with Flavia and Anais to bring the concept to life?
I stalked Flavia on Instagram, and asked if I could call her to explain it all and invite her to work with us. I loved her vibe and was so happy she was into it, too. Same with Anais. We met for a spritz, were on the same page and it all just flowed from there. I shared a couple of references with both of them, but I really wanted everyone to do their thing and for us all to work together as a team.
When was the last time you received flowers, and what was the occasion?
My dear friend Ryan Cullen hand-delivered me a bunch of chocolate cosmos flowers in a mini ceramic vase when I was sick recently. They are small dark, red, and velvety, and actually smell like chocolate. I’m obsessed.
What women do you most look up to or admire, both in a creative and personal context?
I admire women who are soft yet strong. Nurturing, caring and natural women with taste and style. Women with the courage to stand up for themselves and speak their minds, and make things happen, and create freely. I appreciate and admire loyalty and sisterhood.
Do you have a favourite sensual scene from a film or book?
I love the fight scene from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, where hours later, worn and weary, she finally surrenders to her desire for him;LOVE by Gaspar Noe (the whole film); and, the breakfast scene inBittermoon by Roman Polanski.
What do you appreciate most about your body?
Sometimes I stop myself when in a moment of complaining, and just appreciate that everything functions fairly well, [laughs].
When do you feel sexiest?
I feel sexiest after a day in the ocean on a secluded beach, or when I’m eating well and drinking lots of water. Also, after a hot bath with oils, after a deep sleep, sometimes on the dance floor, and when I’m with my love, Luca Kiripun.