Photo Shoot

Discovering friendship, belief in L.A. by modeling and artwork

Photo of Natalia Lemper and Julissa Aaron.

Natalia Lemper and Julissa Aaron met at an L.A. trend occasion rather less than a 12 months in the past. Since then, they’ve been one another’s sounding board for all issues inventive and private — specifically modeling. On Natalia (left): Ralph Lauren high and Marc Jacobs skirt pulled from Mother n Dad Classic and thrifted Harley Davidson boots. On Julissa (proper): Button up pulled from Mother n Dad Classic, lace high made by Alyssa Zaragoza, chain belt by Julissa Aaron.

(Simone Niamani Thompson/For The Occasions)

This story is a part of Picture subject 13, “Picture Makers,” a celebration of the L.A. luminaries redefining the narrative prospects of trend. Learn the entire subject right here.

One picture would possibly seize the spirit of Natalia Lemper and Julissa Aaron’s friendship higher than any of the others. Within the photograph, Aaron sits cross-legged, leaning ahead on a tattoo bench. She appears to be like over her shoulder, smiling coyly into the digital camera as Lemper factors to the butterfly design she simply tattooed on Aaron’s decrease again. Iconic by itself? Sure. However much more so as a result of it’s a re-creation of an early 2000s photograph that 8-year-old Aaron took of her mother, who was within the act of getting her personal decrease again tattoo.

The photograph checks all of the containers of Aaron and Lemper’s friendship: It’s referential — to the inventive dynamic between the 2, but additionally to the mediums by which they inform tales. Aaron, who can also be a movie photographer, airbrush artist and DJ, wears considered one of her personal designs — a picture of a tank high with a tragic clown airbrushed on to it — whereas Lemper, a tattoo artist by commerce, showcases considered one of her signature effective line items within the image. (Their mutual good friend Willie Jane snapped it.)

They met at an L.A. trend occasion rather less than a 12 months in the past, after first understanding of one another by Instagram and mutual pals. Since then, Lemper and Aaron have been one another’s sounding board for all issues inventive and private — specifically modeling, the place they’re each carving out a notable house for themselves in L.A. Lemper, who’s initially from Chicago by means of Las Vegas and San Francisco, has been fascinated by modeling for years. However it was solely when she moved to L.A. — partly, to pursue a modeling profession — that she felt valued in that world. Since then, her likeness has been all over the place — from Ganni campaigns to the Getty, modeling for a collab by Amor Prohibido X Género Impartial. For Aaron, a local of Bakersfield who has been in L.A. for years, the largest moments have occurred in her transition from behind the digital camera to in entrance of it. She’s modeled for Nike, Mother n Dad Classic and extra.

Each Lemper and Aaron are artists working in numerous mediums — from portray and tattooing for Lemper, to airbrush and pictures for Aaron. However modeling has compelled them to take a look at photos — particularly, their very own likenesses — in additional expansive, generally difficult methods. It’s a course of, one they lean on one another for.

Photo of Natalia Lemper.

Natalia Lemper, a tattoo artist initially from Chicago by means of Las Vegas and San Francisco, began feeling valued within the modeling world when she moved to L.A.

(Simone Niamani Thompson/For The Occasions)

Natalia Lemper: We met on the Born X Raised Sadie [Hawkins] occasion. We began following one another on Instagram from Género [Neutral]. I used to be strolling by Julissa and …

Julissa Aaron: I really feel like we had been drawn to one another. I left my pals to go round and see what I may discover. Then I discovered Nati. I used to be like, “Oh, my God. She’s so fairly. Wow.” I used to be positively like, “I’m going to go discuss to her.” If I see somebody from Instagram, I’m going to come back as much as you. We’re all human. I mentioned, “We must always hang around.” Then we did.

NL: The primary time we frolicked, we had a photograph shoot with this woman Willie Jane, and we had been like, “Wow, we’ve been related endlessly.”

JA: My dad’s Apache Cherokee. Each of my mother and father did DNA testing after which my mother came upon she’s Hopi. I used to be telling Nati, and he or she was like, “I’m Hopi!”

NL: Julissa posted one thing on her Tales about it, and I used to be like, “Oh, that’s particular.” The primary hangout was actually relaxed as a result of Willie is considered one of our pals too. It was a visit to Venice. We had been doing it for an eco-friendly T-shirt model [Unless Collective]. Willie wished us to behave like greatest pals, sisters. And we’re like, “OK, straightforward.” It didn’t really feel like work in any respect. It was simply hanging out, having enjoyable. It feels fluid working with Julissa.

Portrait of Julissa Aaron.

For photographer Julissa Aaron, the largest moments of progress have occurred in her transition from behind the digital camera to in entrance of it. She’s modeled for Nike, Mother n Dad Classic and extra.

(Simone Niamani Thompson/For The Occasions)

JA: I began getting randomly casted for issues. It’s a domino impact in a approach: when you begin getting casted, both the identical particular person will deliver you up for one more factor or with Instagram you simply get hit up randomly, which is cool. I by no means would have thought I might have modeled for Nike, particularly within the consolation of my residence. It was so odd, however I used to be down. I like that I used to be ready to try this — I wasn’t particularly simply modeling for Nike. They wished to see me do what I do. It was very natural. I airbrushed in my room, they usually had been simply flies on the wall taking footage.

NL: My life proper now feels very emotional as a result of rising up I used to be all the time advised I couldn’t do something that I’m doing now. Rising up in Vegas was actually exhausting, a minimum of within the faculties that I went to. I used to be the one one which regarded like me. I used to be made enjoyable of for drawing skulls, roses and chains — like, “Nati is bizarre. Why is she doing that?” Now, I can fully be myself and have folks respect me. It feels so rewarding I may cry. After I had met Jen and Ashley [owners of Género Neutral] they had been tremendous fascinated by me, and it introduced some type of confidence. I had all the time wished to mannequin once I was youthful, however I had gone to businesses they usually had been tremendous poisonous. I used to be like, “I can’t mannequin if I’m going to have to vary myself like that.”

However being acknowledged by Jen and Ashley (they had been like, “We wish to take images of you in our garments.”) I felt welcomed. Like, “It is a factor that I can do.” After which my good friend Alexis Gross put me on to my first marketing campaign with Ganni and fought for me to work with them. She introduced me lots of initiatives. Then discovering Pure Fashions. I despatched random images to businesses simply to see what would occur they usually reached out.

It’s one thing that I’m working by continually, being like, “OK. I like myself and the way I look.” Every little thing appears clear now that I do know extra about myself. It is sensible why I used to be fascinated by these items and gravitated in the direction of them. It was only a poisonous setting that had me second guess myself.

JA: I’m an Aries Solar, Most cancers Moon, Virgo Rising, Aries Venus, Pisces Mars.

NL: She is aware of every part. I’m an Aquarius Solar, Most cancers Moon as nicely, Libra Rising and Pisces Venus.

JA: The final 12 months, I’ve been gravitating to air indicators. I want y’all, as a result of I’m loopy.

NL: We all the time inform one another what’s happening and ask for recommendation. It’s extra hyping one another up and holding one another accountable for issues.

"Julissa’s my security blanket," says Natalia Lemper.

“Julissa’s my safety blanket,” says Natalia Lemper.

(Simone Niamani Thompson/For The Occasions)

JA: We’ll be continually speaking on the cellphone or texting. We’re positively hyping one another as much as be productive as a result of [even though] we do essentially the most, there’s a stability the place we have to vent on it. I’m going on to Nati as a result of she is aware of the sensation of being burnt out and it’s good to have consolation. We will discuss one another down.

NL: My aim wasn’t even to be a supermodel or something like that. It was constructing a model, representing my ancestors and different those that appear like me. If I will help anyone not really feel like I did once I was youthful, that might be wonderful.

JA: It’s refreshing as a result of I used to be extra behind the digital camera than in entrance of the digital camera. [Modeling] is a little bit reverse and it positively helps my confidence. I really feel the identical as Nati: it’s frequent for lots of fashions to be blond, blue eyes. We’re breaking the usual. It additionally looks like modeling in itself is altering — accepting extra folks with tattoos or POC. It’s refreshing to see shoots being correctly accomplished and the creatives of the shoot being POC. It incorporates all this information in a way. It’s good seeing it represented correctly. I’m positively seeing how every part’s altering.

NL: Due to how modeling is now, nobody’s telling me to vary my physique. Modeling has helped me a lot with understanding my face and my physique in a wholesome approach. [When I’m doing it], it appears like I’ve to make myself black out, waft. Like I’m dissociating — in a great way. It positively feels awkward. I feel I’m nonetheless studying the right way to place myself. Methods the place I can current myself in the way in which that I wish to look. I do know some photographers are like, “Stick your head out and put your chin down.” From the aspect, it appears to be like like your neck is damaged however from the entrance, it really works.

JA: It’s bizarre as a result of, once more, I’m so snug being the photographer. So, once I shoot my pals or my topics, I’m simply getting candids so I don’t even pose anybody. As a mannequin, to get sort of advised what to do — and I’m an Aries, too — it’s progress. I’m studying to waft and have enjoyable. And never take it too critically.

NL: I really feel prefer it creates persistence and belief. You’re so weak that you simply simply can’t give it some thought.

JA: Yeah. It’s reassuring to have somebody [like Nati] that mentally feels the identical. It’s good to have the ability to discuss to somebody that feels me, fully. It’s very cool and comforting. Like a little bit hug.

NL: Julissa’s my safety blanket. If I I’m not sure about one thing, I’ll drop off a espresso at her work and be like, “Can we discuss?” I name her for like two seconds, like “What are you doing?”

Lettering design by Vivi Naranjo/For The Occasions; typeface: Goliagolia

stylized stacked type that reads “Natalia Lemper“ and “Julissa Aaron”

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