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A Tasmanian talent – Natasha Mulhall, photographer

As part of our series running alongside the INDE.Awards, The Photographers, we profile Natasha Mulhall.

A Tasmanian talent – Natasha Mulhall, photographer

Integral to architecture and design is capturing the finished project through the lens and the expert eye of the photographer. In our series, The Photographers, we present those whose professional life involves photographing all manner of commercial and residential architecture and design.

The men and women profiled belong to Image Makers Association Australia, an organisation that has partnered with the 2024 INDE.Awards in two categories, The Photographer – Commercial and The Photographer – Residential.

We explore what makes each of these photographers tick, how they began their careers and why they chose to pursue architecture and design as their subject, as well as finding out a little more about them and their craft.

Today, it’s the turn of Natasha Mulhall.

Natasha Mulhall

Indesignlive: How did you come to photography? 

Natasha Mulhall: I started photographing with my grandfathers ‘hand-me-down’ Canon Demi half-frame film camera when I was about 14 years old. I’d capture moments around my home and garden, and was very interested in making a composition from a seemingly mundane scene. I really enjoyed this process – it was a very solo and independent experience. When I was 16, I took myself off to The Australian Centre for Photography in Paddington, Sydney and, over time, completed its Certificates i, ii and iii in Black and White Photography. I loved spending weekends in the dark room learning how to make the images more impactful or emotive through editing. I then studied film and TV production at university, before moving to a degree of Interior Architecture (my other passion).

What do you most enjoy about your profession?

The independence of creation, coupled with the trust clients give me to capture their work in a way that shows reciprocal respect.

What drew you to focus on architecture and design?

Besides being interested in taking photos as a teenager, as an eight-year-old, I began drawing house plans and became interested in Australian architecture around the age of ten. I used to dream of designing and living in a cantilevered bush home like Harry Seidler’s Berman House or Glenn Murcutt’s Mt Wilson home. After working as an interior architect for ten years and only using the camera for casual street and landscape photography, my love for capturing architecture and interiors in visual form became a passion, so much so that I slowly transitioned from practising architecture to full-time photography.

Natasha Mulhall

How do you see the role of the photographer in architecture and design?

It’s a very symbiotic relationship. Without exciting, rigorous and resolved architecture, photographers would have nothing in the built environment to be challenged and delighted by. Without photographers, the work isn’t communicated or celebrated to a wider audience. The photographer has an extremely important role as they are the ‘culminating’ factor at the end of a project that creates impactful and honest imagery that lives on long after the project is finished.

What is the most important aspect for you in capturing a project through the lens? 

The ability to capture the essence of a project in one image is a very captivating challenge. To be able to tell the story of the fundamentals of a project (its providence, function and materiality) but importantly, its nuance (beauty, impact and importance) are equally important to me. Without both, the image is lacking and the viewer won’t connect to the architecture/design.

What is a usual day for you when you are on a shoot? 

A lot of preparation beforehand (potentially months of discussions, site visits and scheduling leads to the shoot day!). The day itself is usually very long, very productive and immensely enjoyable. It can be a very quiet process where I take time by myself to capture scenes, and if the architect/s are on site, there can be a lot of dialogue with them to ensure their favourite parts of the project are captured – and usually some great banter!

Natasha Mulhall

What equipment do you use? What is the most important item? 

I use my DSLR body and a selection of lenses and a tripod. I work more often with available light, which can mean planning is key. The most important item…? Too hard – it’s all important! My 24mm Tilt shift lens is pretty essential though.

Are there other areas of photography that you pursue in your spare time? 

Yes! I live in Tasmania, so landscape photography is hard to pass up. I enjoy following my own style rather than the traditional ‘slow shutter’ waterfall images we tend to see from Tasmania.

What advice would you give to someone just commencing in the profession as an architecture and design photographer? 

Go walking around your city/town with your camera and explore all the architecture that is freely available (public buildings and exteriors). The second really important thing is then to review them – which images are impactful to you? Why? Try to figure this out, so that each time you shoot, you’re honing your photography and becoming better at deciding which scenes you choose to capture, composition (what’s included in the frame and what isn’t) and how your lens and f-stop settings create very different effects.

Natasha Mulhall

Who has inspired you in your photography career and why? 

Oh, so many photographers have for different reasons…! Dianna Snape has inspired my photography by showing me that you can have a long and successful career (and extend out into areas such as publishing). The following architectural photographers’ work is a constant source of inspiration for what can be achieved in image creation: Shannon McGrath, Lisa Cohen, Nicole England, Katherine Lu, Martina Gemmola, Tatjana Plitt, Timothy Kaye, Derek Swalwell and Sean Fennessy.

What is the most important thing that you have learnt so far on your journey as a photographer? 

My interpretation of architecture and my emotional connection to a place is unique and is inimitable. Above technical skill, each photographer holds a unique way to tell a project story. I’ve enjoyed finding that way, exploring it, honing it and that’s what really excites me about my work.

Do you have other pursuits or hobbies beside photography that you would like to share with us? 

Yes! I play Irish traditional music, which I came to very late (only five or six years ago). I play the traditional Irish flute (timber) and whistle in pub sessions and also participate in occasional gigs and festivals.


Natasha Mulhall

Image Makers Association of Australia

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