Award-winning photographer Natasha Moustache ’04 had a big “aha moment” in college.
For photographer Natasha Moustache ’04, taking photographs at an event is like listening to a favorite album.
“If you watch people talk in groups, it’s kind of like a song,” Moustache says. “It stays at a certain tone and then there’s a climax … They’re talking seriously for a while, and then at some point somebody cracks a joke and then everyone bursts out laughing. It goes up and down, up and down. So I just circle around the room, watching for the high parts, and capturing those looks between people when they’re just relaxed and smiling and enjoying each other’s company.”
At concerts, conferences and celebrations, gauging the rhythms of performance and the exchanges among colleagues and friends allows Moustache to capture extraordinary moments. Her knack for catching people at their best, coupled with a sharp eye for the quirky detail, has won her clients as diverse as Puma, Google, Jim Beam, Planned Parenthood and Boston University. She recently returned from her sixth engagement shooting pictures at the Country Music Association Festival in Nashville, and her images appear in country-music superstar Garth Brooks’ 2017 book and multimedia collection, The Anthology. In 2017 she was named Music Photographer of the Year
by the Boston Music Awards, an honor for which she is nominated again in 2018.
“I was shooting lesbian clubs in Union Square when I was a senior at Simmons,” Moustache says. “I would rent out of the media lab this digital camera that was literally a point and shoot but had manual controls. I didn’t have a digital camera of my own until I got one for my graduation present.”
“When you’re someone who works events, you get to see all these little subcultures that you wouldn’t otherwise know anything about. I love that.” —Photographer Natasha Moustache ’04
Though she had been taking photographs since she was a child, Moustache traces one catalyst for her chosen profession to a conversation she had at Simmons. When Associate Professor of Photography (now emerita) Vaughn Sills suggested that Moustache might consider photography as a career, it hit Moustache like a revelation.
“Vaughn said, ‘Why don’t you be a photographer?’” Moustache says. “I was like ‘What do you mean? You can do that?’ That was a big ‘aha’ moment for me.”
After graduation, Moustache worked as a bouncer at a Boston club and was soon hired to take pictures of the crowds and musicians on her nights off. She held a day job at Hunt’s Photo & Video in Harvard Square, sold images to the Boston Phoenixand local glossy magazines and slowly built her roster of freelance clients. Before long she was documenting shows at larger venues and winning gigs photographing conferences and other functions.
“When you’re someone who works events, like a DJ or a photographer,” Moustache says, “you get to see all these little subcultures, these little microcosms of people that you wouldn’t otherwise know anything about. I love that.”
As she considers her next move, Moustache, who has plans to pursue an MFA, is feeling drawn back to street photography, a form she explored in depth in her early days shooting film. She likes to interact with her subjects, getting to know them as she documents people and places that seem to have been ignored or gone unnoticed. And just like when she shoots events and celebrations, it is the hidden details—the “little things happening in little corners of the room or the space”—that often speak most powerfully to the essence of what’s happening.
As Moustache puts it, “I try to just run around and look for those things.”
Photographs, from left: Britney Spears; Janell Monae; Natasha Moustache with Garth Brooks; Garth Brooks; and Sia.
Photograph of Moustache by Dave Green