Profile No. 4—Natalie Christensen (@natalie_santafe)

I found it hard to believe Natalie Christensen when she told me that she had never studied art formally, and didn’t start taking photographs until relatively recently. Her minimalistic, deconstructed urban landscapes, which she posts daily on Instagram, give the impression of a mature artist with a long career. Yet Christensen’s work ethic and commitment have allowed her to become just as artistically successful and accomplished as some of her older contemporaries.

In fact, Christensen’s academic background is in psychology and psychotherapy, with a concentration on the theories of Carl Jung. She has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than twenty-five years and, together with her analyst and teacher, Dr. Robert Cunningham, she explored Jung’s theory of the shadow self. As Christensen explained it, this involved “getting acquainted with the parts of ourselves that we deny or choose not to see…[which are] revealed to us in dreams and in our waking life when we encounter people that we have a strong negative reaction to.”

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Profile No. 3—Jacob Morel (

Jacob Morel has been making images as long as he can remember. Growing up in a suburb south of Baltimore, it was drawing — he carried a pen and paper nearly everywhere — but about five years ago, drawing took a backseat and photography took over. He’d first learned how to develop and print in a seventh-grade shop class, a process he said “amazed” him. Before that, he occasionally used his parents’ camera. When they got the film back from the lab, he liked to sit and alternately look at the negatives and at their corresponding prints.

Yet Morel didn’t start to see photography as a serious hobby until late in high school. He took pictures with a compact digital camera to aid his drawing, but found himself paying more and more attention to the photographs rather than the drawings. He soon started entering and winning photography contests. When he was a senior, some of his pictures were displayed in the United States Capitol in Washington. A camera replaced the pen and paper.

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Profile No. 2—Vincent Tullo

In a way, Vincent Tullo’s photography career began before he started college. “I used to bring a little camera around to photograph my friends and me skateboarding,” he told me in an email, “and over time I noticed I was skateboarding less and taking pictures more.” His documentary instincts have served him well in his work for the New York Times, and his skateboarding background certainly helped him in his work for Thrasher Magazine.

But, if anything, Tullo’s identity as a photographer is defined by his enthusiasm for the art and craft of it. That, too, was anticipated early on by his childhood love of the visual arts, specifically painting and drawing. Today, he says he’ll shoot anything as long as the subject is interesting, and stresses the importance of “[spreading] the love in the photo community.”

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Profile No. 1—Patrick Joust


Photograph by Peter W. Coulson

Patrick Joust does not own a smartphone. “I have…this…kind of phone,” he said, showing me his flip phone. If he didn’t have such a wide following online, his phone choice wouldn’t be all that relevant, nor would his admittedly lukewarm attitude towards Instagram as a platform for photography. But Joust has never been one to approach photography in conventional ways.

Joust didn’t start taking pictures until he was in his twenties. He had studied history and English at Gettysburg College on what he described as a “pre-law track.” He went on to law school but dropped out after six weeks and joined AmeriCorps, which brought him to Baltimore from 2002 to 2003 to tutor adults and children in basic computer skills all around the city. It was the first time he had gotten to know the non-touristed areas of the city, having grown up in Northern California and Pennsylvania.

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Hi. My name’s Peter, and this is my website, Profiles in Photography. I created it to combine my love of writing and of photography in a way that went beyond the traditional photo-blog model, so instead of just writing about photography, Profiles in Photography will do something a little different. Every other week, we’ll publish an interview-based profile of one of the best photographers working today.

And this is a really exciting time for photography. Some would argue that social media have cheapened it; we beg to differ. Sites like Instagram have made it easy for folks doing great work to put themselves out there and get the recognition they deserve, and Profiles in Photography is in and of this “Instagram generation.” Without social media and the Internet, we wouldn’t be able to easily find good photographers since we aren’t really ingratiated into the traditional art world, and without folks to write about, we wouldn’t exist. (And we’re always on the lookout. Don’t hesitate to send us an email if there’s someone you like whose work you think we should check out.)

That being said, don’t send us your own work, because there are two different ways to do specifically that. All year round, you can get featured on our Instagram if you follow @profilesinphotography, tag us in your pictures, and use the hashtag #PIPfeatures. And every December, we run a super-dope portfolio contest whose winners get profiled on our site. (UPDATE [20 July 2017])the portfolio contest may or may not happen. We’ll have a better idea of whether or not it’s feasible around mid-November.)

As for our content itself, above all, we want the articles to be good. Our promise to ourselves is that we’ll only publish writing that we’d read ourselves, and our promise to you is that our output will be consistently excellent.

Our first profile will be of Patrick Joust and out very soon. Stay tuned!