Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Miss Aniela: Master of Flickr
Known to much of the world as Miss Aniela, Natalie Dybisz has found a promotional niche by taking advantage of the huge online community at a popular photo-sharing website
The final day of her malaise came when she retired her diary. She was unwilling to write in it anymore because it would take time away from her image-creating. The last entry, significantly more upbeat than the rest of the pages, read, “I think my photographs are going to start selling.”
On This Site, You’re A Star
Miss Aniela is a smash hit on Flickr, and for good reason. The photographs are breathtaking. Miss Dybisz’s extraordinary use of cloning an image of herself several times in one photograph in varying poses is both technically flawless and strong on story. She doesn’t employ the effect to show off that she can execute it; she uses it as a tool to convey her narrative. This seamless integration makes for compelling images.
Relentless at producing new work, she says, “I like the digital technology because I can think of an idea and play it out immediately.” In an industry where digital workflow discussion has become dreadfully tedious and pedantic, Miss Dybisz’s perspective is fabulous in that it’s motivated purely by an inherent need to make pictures.
On Flickr, she’s part of a community that’s made up of other self-portrait photographers, an art form that’s evolving into a genre, in part because of Dybisz’s work and because of the massive exposure that only can come from the Internet. Beyond the self-portrait community, Miss Aniela is one of the most popular destinations on the photo-sharing site. She receives lots of unsolicited opinions on her technique and style—you know, jealous folks with too much free time on their hands. But lots of comments reveal which images are better received than others. These are the opinions Dybisz craves. They help inspire new concepts or sometimes they validate that an idea she’s toying with is a good one to pursue.
Yet in spite of the vast input of the crowds, Dybisz manages to keep her work wonderfully original—all the time ready to display her work online to be scrutinized by anyone and everyone, fans and detractors alike. It’s a courageous way to build a career.
The next evolutionary rung for Miss Aniela was a book. In spite of her significant Internet popularity, there weren’t any publishers knocking on her door offering her a deal. She turned to online self-publishing service Blurb. A San Francisco-based company, Blurb prints in the United States and Europe.
The Miss Aniela book has been selling, and because she can print as she needs, Miss Dybisz avoids the overhead maintaining a book inventory. Blurb tells me that they have focused a lot of attention on providing technology that will allow their customers to have consistent quality and color with each print run.
Individual print sales, book sales and growing popularity offered a traditional artist’s business plan with a do-it-yourself twist. But was there a place in the commercial world for Miss Dybisz’s evolving talent?
In Brighton, England, where Miss Dybisz is from, a local water company approached her about doing an advertising shoot. I ignorantly assumed that the ad would be capitalizing on the Miss Aniela phenomenon. What other direction could you pursue with a self-portrait? Then I saw the ad. It doesn’t remotely hint at Miss Aniela. It’s just a brilliantly shot image that happens to feature the woman who shot it.
Dybisz began her career in 2006 with no formal training. Before then, photography was simply a hobby. As she became more involved in Flickr’s virtual community, her motivation to shoot grew. From a beam of light to an interesting garment to a hairstyle change, anything can serve as inspiration for her next self-portrait. She does it all herself, independently modeling for, directing, photographing and digitally processing all of her images. Dybisz’s love of digital imaging and editing comes through in her unique style.
To see more of Miss Aniela’s photography, visit www.missaniela.com.
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