My name is Natalie Grybiene (she/her) and I am a 42 year old mixed race woman, wife of an immigrant, mother of four boys, professional emergency room nurse, and athlete. These are a few of the many things that most define and influence me as a photographer and a human. I started getting interested in photography in a way a lot of people do; I had children. I had a particular interest in learning the technical aspects of photography because I started with a film camera and couldn’t afford to waste the film on bad shots.
My true obsession with photography really didn’t start until about 10 years ago when I moved to Colorado and found inspiration in the mountains. I invested in my first digital camera, and my photography jumped to a completely new level. Living in Colorado also expanded my interest in outdoor sports. I rapidly found an interest in hiking, then skiing, and then road biking, paddleboarding, and most recently rock climbing as I’ve become more acclimated to my mountain home.

The Break Free Program called to me as a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from a professional mentor and expand my photography skills and artistic storytelling abilities. I was inspired to propose my project by the stories of black and brown women artists and athletes, their struggles to be seen and heard in an outdoor industry that seems to completely ignore their presence. Women of color have been “out here doing it” in the shadows for years, but rarely get to see themselves or people who look like them represented in film and media.

I’m just one person, one amateur photographer; but I’m motivated to amplify the stories and voices of women like myself. I hike, climb, ski, bike, and paddle my way through this stunning Colorado landscape and not only do I want to show my own adventures, I want to find and highlight other women of color who are outside adventuring. The most exciting part of this project is that I will be traveling around my amazing home state, hopefully meeting a lot of fascinating women and getting to take their pictures with the breathtaking Colorado landscape as a background. I am so honored to be invited to be a part of the Olympus family for a while and share my adventures.

I am thrilled and humbled to be mentored by Olympus Visionary Peter Baumgarten, who is a truly extraordinary photographic artist and human being in general. I knew that I wanted to work with Peter when I saw his portfolio full of a broad range of subjects and all shot with technical perfection. I point my camera at anything that catches my eye, and I love that Peter has this incredible breadth and depth to his work.

Good Spirit
I love this photo from Peter!

I will be shooting this project with the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO and M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lenses. Olympus packs a ton of features in a light, compact body that makes it totally packable for all my backcountry adventures.

My absolute favorite features besides the size and weight, are the weather-sealing (because it’s absolutely impossible to stay clean while rock climbing), and the out-of-this world image stabilization that allows me to get crystal-clear shots hand held – because who wants to carry a tripod up a 14,000 ft. mountain?