Natasha Janardan is a portrait and product photographer. She runs a YouTube beauty channel with her twin sister, Meghal, where they create unique, editorial-styled makeup tutorials.
Tell us a little about your creative journey—how did you get to where you are now?
Even though I always loved taking photos, I got into photography almost by accident. About nine years ago I started posting my photos online. My friends liked them a lot and then they asked me to take their senior portraits. One thing led to another, and two years later I was running a small portrait photography business. I then went to art school at the University of Michigan and continued to take photos all through college. Alongside that, I got into makeup, which originated from my love of watching YouTube videos. Makeup went hand in hand with photography because I had to do makeup for other people when I photographed them for my personal projects.
What kind of connection is there between your work and identity?
They are pretty interconnected. I try my best to create welcoming and open spaces for people when I photograph them or even in our YouTube tutorials. That’s pretty much how I like to be as a person, and whenever I meet people as well.
Any formative moments that you remember that helped to shape your relationship with makeup?
I always remember my mom telling me to wear eyeliner whenever we had a function to go to. It’s pretty traditional for Indian women to wear eyeliner. I hated when she told me to wear it even though she wasn’t intending to hurt my feelings or force me, but it just felt uncomfortable. I didn’t start wearing makeup 'til my later years in college because I felt uncomfortable that it was expected of me to wear it. I started to wear makeup once I realized I could wear non-traditional styles of makeup with a bunch of colors and whenever I wanted—not tied to a function or event.
Who was beautiful to you when you were younger and who is beautiful to you now?
I was always really into Megan Fox’s hair from Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen because I spent a lot of time trying to get my hair super straight and flat. It's naturally curly and frizzy. There also wasn’t much diversity on screen then or in my life because I lived in a very white area. I paid more attention to her hair more than her as a person. I didn’t tend to stick with one person who I thought was beautiful because I would pick out certain parts that I liked about them. Like, I used to really like the way Vanessa Hudgens’ dressed. I was deep in that High School Musical phase. Nowadays, I find Tracee Ellis Ross to be one of the most beautiful people in the world. I love how carefree she is—at least her online persona and of course her style!!
Did anyone teach you how to use makeup or help you along the way?
I learned everything from researching on YouTube and following a handful of makeup artists on Instagram. Even with my older sister and mom, they might have got me a couple foundations from bareMinerals but they didn’t really teach me anything beyond what I could figure out myself.
How has beauty helped or hindered your view of yourself and everything around you?
I think when I was younger it hindered me a lot because I felt uncomfortable at the thought that I had to present more feminine. Even though I felt that there was nothing wrong with being feminine, I really resented anyone that told me to look that way. I always wanted to come to those choices on my own. There wasn’t really anyone in mainstream media that looked like me either so I couldn’t relate to anyone. Nowadays, things are much better because I surround myself with supportive people in real life, and online, I follow people that I find inspiring. I think the push for better representation in the beauty industry today has helped a lot as well. The world of beauty helps me now because I feel more like myself when I can wear fun or strange makeup looks. I really treat it like an accessory so I find it very enjoyable and calming.
What keeps you inspired? What are you currently obsessed with in and out of beauty?
I find a lot of inspiration from nature. My twin sister, Meghal, is really into birds and I definitely hopped on that train because the color combinations on their feathers are amazing! I also love following professional editorial makeup artists on Instagram. I find it so interesting when they do Instagram lives or show stages of their behind-the-scenes from photoshoots. I’m currently obsessed with watching Korean dramas and any east Asian dramas. It’s really bad because I can’t stop watching them and they are SO LONG, yet I fly through them. It’s like my favorite thing, rom-com movies, but in sixteen one-hour episodes. That also leads me to my new interest in Korean Beauty. I wouldn’t say it is a style of makeup that I would want to wear but I find it fascinating to see how the trends in makeup in Korea are completely different than in the U.S.
What is next for you? Do you have any hopes, dreams, plans you are excited about?
I have no idea what is next for me but my dream is always to get to the point where I’m stable enough in my career so I can adopt a dog! That will always be the goal!
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