What it’s like to work with Nathan

Many times when you’re looking for a family photographer, you look for referrals from people who have worked with the photographer. While we’re happy to share those with you, I wanted to offer my own unique perspective since I’ve observed Nathan work for many years. (By the way, this is Sam. Maybe one day, Porter and Jeanie will chime in, but until then, you get a human perspective.)

What’s really amazing about Nathan is that he can connect with kids so easily, though we don’t have kids of our own. Don’t get me wrong, we both enjoy kids, but Nathan can find a connection almost instantaneously. My topics of conversation tend to run out after “Hi.” Not Nathan. Even if someone isn’t able to form full sentences, Nathan believes that all kids deserve an attentive conversational partner. He understands that they so badly want to express themselves and their observations; he will do his best to listen and chat along despite having any hope of understanding what’s actually being said. Seriously, he’s a master at carrying on full conversations with children who can barely speak real words let alone full sentences yet.

I know you love your kids and encourage their expression, but for a stranger to get excited about that and encourage it, too? I think that’s pretty unique and special. His ability to get excited about what any kid is excited about makes for great photos.

Furthermore, it allows kids to be comfortable and be kids. Nathan is like a really tall kid and many little ones that he photographs pick up on that pretty quickly. They see there’s not a threat, especially when they may be initially apprehensive. Honestly, there are times when the parents are more nervous! I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to us, “Little Girl is really shy, so it may take some time to warm up,” and they worry that we’ll be upset when their daughter doesn’t just immediately open up. That’s not true at all. Nathan knows that he has to make friends first. Before long, Nathan is over there dancing to “What Does the Fox Say” with her like they’re the best of friends.

I can always see something special is happening when this idea of shyness comes up. Nathan figures out that your kids like dinosaurs or trains or Star Wars or dogs, really anything that your kids enjoy, and starts talking about it with them (see above: can talk to anyone). Everyone, including the parents, start to relax and the photos are incredible.

For example: Nathan has figured out that if he takes the time to talk about what he’s doing and show the pictures on the back of the camera, it’s easy for kids to get excited about the camera. One time, we were photographing a family with two-year-old boy, Alexander, whom we were told was very shy and doesn’t open up easily. After a few photos, Nathan sat down to show Alexander the pictures of him on the back of the camera. As Alexander was looking at the pictures, he put his head on Nathan’s shoulder. His moms’ jaws dropped; they were that surprised at how comfortable Alexander was. Nathan was able to connect with him about music and gave him the confidence to be himself and play.

Even though I see it happen regularly, I’m always in awe of Nathan’s inherent ability to capture great family moments. He’s incredible when it comes to making anyone feel confident in front of the camera, but especially kids who are wary at first.

And for the record, no kids are bribed in the taking of these photos. I know he joked about coercing kids with candy in our video last year, but that’s not true!