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Natalie Yang Talks Growing Up, Girls,
and The Rise of Granny Panties

Who: Natalie Yang
Where she is from: Hong Kong
Where she is now: Santa Cruz/ Los Angeles
What she does: Photographer

Can you tell us a little about your work and how you became interested in photography?

My work surrounds the notions of figure and feeling. I feel compelled to communicate the relationship I see between human and landscape, as well as the relationships I experience personally… particularly with those I feel connected and close with. I became interested in photography when I was around fifteen or sixteen, the idea of documentation was very intriguing to me.

What is your favorite piece of work or something you are most proud of?

I just finished the first part of a project called “Growing Up,” a documentation of the collective experience my friends and I are sharing as we enter a new period of our lives, together but apart. It was really special for me to be able to share the love I have for my friends through my photographs, and that they were all comfortable enough to allow me to share pieces of our lives with an audience.

You’ve stated on your website that you find it difficult to live completely in the present moment. How does taking photos help transport you to a different reality?

Sometimes it can be frustrating to feel like I’m not fully present in any given moment or situation. A lot of the time I’ll be doing something and I’ll just be thinking about how good that one shot would be right there or I’ll just sit and wait for my friend to turn their head a little bit so I can take a quick photo. The camera has helped me direct this frustration I have and turn it into something positive, but at the same time it’s almost made it more difficult because I have such an impulse to take photographs of literally everything around me all the time.

Who are all the women behind her photographs?

For the most part, my models are my best friends. I have some girls reach out to me volunteering to model for me, which is always a really great feeling. And if I come across someone I want to shoot, I’ll reach out to them. I’ve met a lot of really amazing girls and made a lot of friends the past year through my photography, which is so special.

We admire how you’ve recently captured your female subjects in granny panties, rather than itty-bitty thongs. Explain your motivation and goal behind this decision:

I personally don’t wear thongs and granny panties are cute and comfortable. Honestly it’s not something I really even do consciously – I just never wear thongs and don’t ever even think to style someone wearing one because it’s not a relevant part of my life, you know? There are a lot of clothing companies and artists who are working with granny panties which is so cool! The clothing company Me and You, Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis, make panties that say Feminist across the butt with kisses all over them. There was an art show recently in London called ‘Female Matters’ put on by Polyester Zine, and they had an installation of granny panties decorated by different artists. I have friends who have started embroidering granny panties. I guess thongs have always been considered “sexy” underwear and granny panties have been considered for well, grandmas… which is ridiculous. The motivation behind the granny panty is that I can feel beautiful wearing whatever I want, as can all other women.

What message would you like to communicate with your work?

There is beauty everywhere, in everyone and everything. I’m lucky enough to call the California coast my home. I am completely surrounded by natural beauty and it has guided me into the way I work as an artist, and the way I am as a person.

What do you believe there is there too little of and too much of in this world?

I would love to see even more girls working together side-by-side to create positive change in the art industry. And, I would love to see less competition.

What is your WILD wish?

To be a photographer full time after I graduate college.

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For more of Natalie’s work, check out her website and Instagram

text by: Jamie Eddy

photography by: Natalie Yang

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