Creative Crush: Tiny Atlas Quarterly’s Emily Nathan

Posted by Dennis Caasi on

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Travel is the purest form of learning and photographer Emily Nathan is no stranger to it. Her insatiable appetite for adventure formed somewhat naturally, taking cues from early life experiences in Grand Cayman and later, an internship in Chile. Emily climbed her way to the top of the lifestyle heap, working with Apple and a bevy of other big name brands, but as the clock ticked, corporate lull overtook personal passion and she needed a change.

To step outside of her newly minted role as a parent and to reinvigorate her innate sense of wonderment, Emily started Tiny Atlas Quarterly - a collection of travel related stories told through the lenses of those that lived them. Beautiful imagery, impeccable style and once in a lifetime adventures…an AllSwell journal would fit right in.

We recently tapped Emily to create the cover art for our latest notebook and the resulting images inspired us to pair up with Tiny Atlas Quarterly and Earth Missions to embark on two incredible journeys. Emily will be joining us for both globe trotting adventures so we discussed all things travel with her in anticipation.

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How did photography first enter your life?

I grew up with a lot of museum visits on family travels, all my summers spent at art camp, and the Sunday New York Times Magazine. I remember the first series of Sally Mann’s Immediate Family published in the magazine and the visual impact of those pictures. I can picture the kitchen I grew up with when thinking about those pictures. I was the same age as Sally’s kids though so I remember the images in two ways: part as the future photo person I would become as well as a kid like hers (but with a much less wild and raw looking life). My dad is a doctor and had an Olympus 35mm film setup and I was pretty interested in it. I started taking photos in middle school at camp and then had darkroom classes throughout high school (I went to a great suburban Detroit public high school).

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Photo by Sally Mann

What keeps it exciting and new for you to this day?

Hmm. I like the immediacy of the iPhone most now. For me, cameras and shooting are not new (even new cameras), experiences are new. I do wish the phone somehow could do everything that a Mamiya RZ 67 could do. I try to take pictures I have not seen before. If I take a picture I feel I have not seen before, that is the best feeling (and very rare).

What is your method for consciously translating a personal experience to a broader audience?

I try to photograph what it feels like to experience a moment or a person. I try to show my audience what it felt (and looked) like when I was shooting.

Describe the concept of ‘wanderlust’ in your own words.

A deep desire to continually experience the world anew.

What is one of the most inspiring destinations you’ve visited and what made it so?

Agh too many. So many Tiny Atlas shoots have been really epic! Near and far. Coromandal Peninsula in New Zealand, Glacier National Park in Montana, Nevada City, White Sands, the Alto Minho in Portugal, Scotland. I pretty strongly believe that the approach is really the most important thing in travel though. To be really excited and engaged. Also, the harder it is to get to a place the better it is oftentimes. At the moment I am remembering hitchhiking alone to a native festival, La Tirana in the high desert of Chile in college. Hiking the Colca Canyon in Peru by myself. My first surf trip to Costa Rica, winding down the most rutted dusty roads smelling the sweet and acrid smell of burning garbage and arriving to warm soft sand and ocean in the dark. Staying in a house along the river on a cliff in Ubud. The flea market in Moscow. Every single time I visit Hanalei.

How does conservation play into the ethos of Tiny Atlas Quarterly?

Tiny Atlas loves the natural world and exploring it. To love the natural world is also to understand that this planet is our only resource and must be protected. We also truly believe that there are no “it” new places (that everyone needs to rush to and mess up). The place is the experience. Getting out and experiencing the world and finding the beauty is what we do.

Do you have a journaling or list making habit/ritual?

I have always loved journals and paper products and whole paper stores. I don’t make lists enough because I have a good memory and (falsely) think I can rely on my memory. But with the mixture of TAQ, photo work and being a mom, I am maxed out. I started making daily and weekly lists on paper at my desk. It is so satisfying to cross items of a list. 

I actually have a degree in English with a sub concentration in writing (poetry!). I used to write much more. When I am writing a poem I will often write a sort of fluid journal entry to remember everything I am thinking and then extract a rough draft from there. Once I have a rough draft it goes to the machine to start editing. Although I don’t often write poetry anymore.

When was the last time you put pen/pencil to paper? What were you writing down?

Today! Everyday. On my desk I have written lists of things to do, sketches for ideas for our new TAQ logo, sketches for the walls of the show we have going up in Venice and the groupings for the prints we are making, notes to remember for a big photo production I am shooting next week…

What was the inspiration and process behind the cover art you created for AllSwell’s Notebook No.3?

Laura was looking for two different versions of a lush world and we fell in love with the idea of pairing simple imagery with two incredible real life trips. I liked the idea of tropical and subtropical looking foliage representing the two different sides of the notebook.

What about the upcoming trips with AllSwell and Earth Mission are you most excited for?

I love the new! I love going to places I have not yet been and seeing them for the first time. I also love vast and lush nature and warm tropical water and local cultures.

Learn more about our global opportunities with Tiny Atlas Quarterly and Earth Missions here.

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