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Daily Inspiration: Meet Nathan Mitchell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nathan Mitchell.

Hi Nathan, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
It was Christmas, 2002 when I was given my first real camera of my own. It was a small point-and-shoot camera with manual controls. I took thousands of photos with it. Photos hanging out with friends at parties, skateboarding, experimental long exposures of my family, light painting as my friends and I drove around my town outside of Washington DC, listening to amazing music and trying to make sense of life as a high schooler. I didn’t shoot anything professionally; I was busy with my emo band and trying to become a private pilot.

I went to college and took that little camera with me, continuing to take photos and uploading them to Webshots (RIP). After college, I went on a month-long trip to India with my best friend, and he brought his new Canon DSLR. We photographed everything and everyone, every day that we were there, taking turns being the “main photographer” for the day. It opened my eyes to the possibilities photography provides.

I was so inspired that I got home from the trip and immediately bought my own DSLR camera. A year or so after that, while working a dead-end job in DC, a friend asked me if I wanted to start shooting weddings together, since it seemed like fun, and it was easy money! After only one year of shooting weddings, I knew it was something I had to do. I created my own company and quit my day job! Nothing felt better, and I’ve never looked back.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Photography is seldom a smooth experience. Most of my difficulty came in the way of charging a fair price for my work. It’s hard as an emerging artist to feel like your work is as valuable as any established artist, but it is. It is just as valuable. Every good artist is constantly growing and changing, and their work, however consistent, should be improving with each and every work created.

So, an emerging artist is no different than an established artist in terms of charging the client enough to grow your business. It took me a long time to learn that. Another challenge, again just business stuff, is to try to focus on what you want to do make the rest as simple and easy as possible. I love shooting and I love editing, I love meeting new people and taking their photos… I don’t love invoicing and all that stuff. I just want to make art, right? So my invoicing and client management system is super fast and I don’t have to spend much time on it.

Another thing that took me a long time to figure out. A lot of it just kind of comes down to believing in yourself and having some support, and knowing that you’re doing a good job, even if no one is saying it. And if you’re not doing a good job, to have the humility and courage to recognize that and figure out how to make better, more original art. It’s no easy thing, but it’s very rewarding.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Art is about knowing yourself, I think. I’m one of these types of extroverted people that loves hanging out with other people so much that I sometimes don’t stop to appreciate who I am and what I really love to do for myself. Over the past few years–culminating in a year spent isolated from the rest of the world due to a global pandemic–I’ve been working on that.

To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom. Socrates is definitely right but I’d also say that knowing thyself is also the beginning of art. So I basically sat down with myself and said, “who am I and what do I love?” I love people, I love music, I love color, and I love providing people with memories they will hold onto for the rest of their lives. So when people reach out to me to shoot their wedding I think they see that I love an expressive, colorful, visually stimulating image.

I’m a huge movie fan but I’m also so in love with still images; I want to capture a bit of the cinematic in a still image. I’m happiest when I’m around new people, photographing them, understanding them, working hard to provide to them a piece of themselves.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
The Artist’s Way is a must-read book/workbook for anyone in the throes of the artistic struggle; it helped me get a handle on things. Also, for any photography book that inspires me, I pretty much buy and look through it, which helps for inspiration. In terms of apps: I use Narrative to help my blog faster, Tave to keep me organized, and of course Lightroom for everything from import to delivery.

The most important resource, though, is a network–however small or large–of like-minded artists and friends that can support you, so that you can grow together. It’s also important to have other creative endeavors that can feed your main creative outlet, and for me that’s music. I’ve been in over 30 different musical groups throughout my life and that definitely helps me stay on my toes creatively. As for podcasts, my favorite podcast is probably Desert Island Disks, and of course The Epic Podcast (me and my friend’s photography podcast!).

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nathan Mitchell Photography

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