Miss Aniela (Natalie Dybisz) is a fine-art fashion photographer based in London. She is a Nikon ambassador who likes to blur the boundaries between fashion and fine-art, known for re-imagining the creative portrait with post-production, and fusing modern digital techniques with classic photography flare. Her work has been showcased in the Saatchi Gallery in London and featured in numerous media worldwide including NY Arts, El Pais Spain, The Metro, Alarm Chicago, Vogue Italia, BBC, and American Photo. She is the author of two photography books and runs the Fashion Shoot Experience, inviting photographers to join her on top editorial-quality shoots around the world.
Go ahead and let your eyes feast on the gallery of surrealist fashion and fine art photographer Natalie Dybisz (a.k.a. Miss Aniela). Take in the powerful women that dominate her images, the sumptuously dark tones, the striking glimpses of light, the otherworldly blend of nature overtaking manmade opulence, the frequent recurrence of animalism barely held at bay.
Now look up John Collier’s famed 1889 painting Lilith. Ignoring all of the gender-based negativity that would follow with thousands of years of mythological reinterpretation, Collier turns to Lilith’s roots as a figure of fierce beauty, light within darkness, fertility, independence, and femininity wrapped in the intimate proximity of nature. The painting touched Natalie deeply in her years as a young artist and would ultimately inspire one of her favorite self-portraits, Double Bind. Echoes of this work and these themes would continue through the many other self-portraits that would lift Natalie to international recognition and eventual commercial success.
Symbolically, Lilith is often considered to be an embodiment of chaos — a universal force frequently seen as evil but which is, in reality, just a factor of life. It’s not a thing to be shunned. Rather, chaos should be understood and embraced. Only then can we conquer fear.
Yes, that’s a pretty cerebral introduction to a G-TEAM ambassador profile, but Natalie Dybisz is not your usual creative professional. She is, like so many of her images, a work of determined beauty, rife with layered complexity. As with so many of her peers, she feels the fear of potential loss every day. Any job could go wrong. Any critical piece of gear could fail. Chaos is always just around the corner. But Natalie meets fear head-on by constantly striving to advance her capabilities while improving her methods, and no method has proven more important in recent years than how she stores and protects her data.
Adopting Professional Protection
Natalie’s photography career started a decade ago while a student. As detailed in a Channel 9 interview, she began with budget-friendly equipment, a fondness for Photoshop, and utter boldness in posting her self-portraits to Flickr and other social media sites. Two years, one degree, and millions of views later, she was fielding invitations to present at industry events and trying to decide whether to opt for a conventional job or make a go at being a full-time photographer. Fortunately for the fine art world, she selected the latter.
Self-portraiture evolved into multiplicity images (containing multiple versions of herself within a single frame) and experiments in photo-manipulated levitation. By 2010, Natalie was so practiced and admired in these techniques that she offered lectures on them. However, the more her professional career advanced, the more she considered how to protect that career from mishap.
"It’s always been a pervading fear in my mind that, at some point, the main volume of what I’m working on might fail before I’ve backed it up to an external hard drive. Luckily, that never happened, but only recently did I decide to stop living on the edge. I was burgled, and the burglars took a laptop that had some fresh shoots on it. Fortunately, I’d just backed up my images, and they left my external drive on the table. I didn’t actually lose any images, although I did lose some work on a book that I was working on at the time. But the lesson was clear. Now, no matter what happens to any of my drives, I’ve got the data secure."
Today, Miss Aniela is a brand operated by Natalie and her partner, Matt Lennard, across London, Los Angeles, and New York, with sponsor partners including Nikon, Broncolor, Lupolux, and G-Technology. A stroll through the Miss Aniela gallery shows beyond question why Natalie attracts such globe-spanning interest and clientele. However, the countless hours of camera work and editing that yield such stunning images might amount to nothing without Natalie’s careful storage workflow at each stage of her work.
Like many who round the corner from photo or video amateur to professional, Natalie’s creative skills grew faster than her IT savvy. She admits to being "pretty clueless" as to how best to implement storage gear. She knew her work was at risk, but she didn’t know which way to turn. "I wanted something that I could implement quite quickly, something where you don’t have to be too much of a geek to understand its intricacies."
While attending Photokina, G-Technology ambassador Lucas Gilman introduced Natalie to his favorite storage brand. The simplicity and strategy of the product line immediately appealed to her. A while later, another G-Technology ambassador, Tom Barnes, further cemented Natalie’s opinion of the products and even assisted in setting up the equipment in her home office.
"I’m really about making things easy," she says. "I wanted to have a system in place that backs up my historical and current working data in a way that doesn’t give me a headache or keep me awake at night worrying about things not being properly duplicated for safety."
With some guidance from friends and G-Technology, this is exactly what she ended up with. Natalie shoots onto flash card media. When in the studio, she copies these directly onto a 4TB G-RAID® configured as a mirrored RAID. This way, if any harm befalls one of the two drives in the G-RAID, the second retains a perfect copy of all data, and Natalie can continue working with no downtime. Using Chronosync software, the G-RAID automatically backs up to a 12TB G-SPEED® Studio with Thunderbolt. The Studio serves as her catch-all archive and redundant copy of everything. Any changes made to working files duplicate almost instantly to the G-SPEED Studio, so her work is never in danger. When the 2TB of available G-RAID capacity fills up, she simply drops another into its place.
In the field, Natalie replaces the redundancy of the G-SPEED with rugged G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE® ev RaW units. The thick rubber bumpers provide the extra protection her drives need when getting knocked about in all manner of rough outdoor settings. Once she gets these drives back to her office, Natalie drops them into her G-Technology G-DOCK ev for rapid transfer to the G-RAID and a speedy move into editing.
Ready for the Future
Natalie remains firmly ensconced in still photography, although she has started to dabble with behind-the-scenes video clips of her commercial shoots. Sticking to still work has put off the need for adopting Thunderbolt 2 storage, but she recognizes that this may yet lie in her future.
"For me, video is a bit mind-boggling," Natalie says. "One minute, you’ve just got a picture, a static thing that you can preen and polish for hours and hours. But video offers this whole new range of senses where you have to think about the way things move, the whole experience of it. To properly get my teeth into moving images, I’ll need to get my head around a lot more gear. It will probably come eventually…when the right motivation strikes."
That motivation may be just overhead. Natalie recently started dabbling with drone footage on her behind-the-scenes clips, and she stands in awe of how some of her peers are now bringing drone footage into their work. But when even light drone use can generate 500GB of rough footage for processing, Natalie knows that digging into video will shift both her storage workflow and her creative skillset. Fortunately, she also knows that G-Technology and her community of friends linked to it will be there to help her with the transition when she’s ready.
Big transitions have a tendency to cause fear. The move from still photography to video may not be as drastic as the jump into parenthood, but Natalie remains ready to clasp uncertainty and change. Earlier in 2015, she gave birth to her first baby, a little girl named, not surprisingly, Lilith. A midwife assisted with the home delivery, and Lilith took her first breaths almost within reach of the Miss Aniela home studio.
Everything evolves. The challenge is to be ready…and embrace.
G-Team members are leaders in their respective fields who use G-Technology products in their day-to-day work lives. G-Team members are compensated for their participation.
G‐Technology external hard drives serve as an element of an overall backup strategy. It is recommended that users keep two or more copies of their most important files backed up or stored on separate devices or online services.