Emily Nathan Brings Her Authenticity to Target
On the surface, Target might seem like a different artistic angle for Emily Nathan, the creative mind behind Tiny Atlas Quarterly. Tiny Atlas’ signature is the apex of lifestyle photography. Using the whole world as a backdrop, Emily and her collaborators do not manufacture compositions. Instead they attend the unfolding of the world, and document the beauty they find on the other side of their lenses. Target is known for highly stylized, conceptual imagery that might seem contrary to Emily’s wheelhouse. But it turns out it’s a different side of the same coin. “The challenge is to breathe life into that scenario,” explains Emily. “I have to try to have it be the Target poppy colors and somehow carry an authenticity to it and bring a little life and reality.” That’s exactly what Emily is known for.
In Tiny Atlas, Emily is on a never-ending pursuit of authenticity, so when she has babies in front of her camera for Target, she’s immediately in her element. “Babies are not capable of being inauthentic,” Emily explains. “When you’re doing that kind of shoot with an adult it’s a lot easier for the adult to fake their emotions. But babies: if you want them to giggle, you have to make them happy. If you want them to sleep, you actually have to make them tired.” Like with her lifestyle shoots, she has to bring moments of reality into the shoot to make it happen. When she’s in Big Sur, she follows a conservationist on his daily trek to save that ecosystem. When she needs an image of a sleepy baby, she has to quiet the set and walk the baby around and around until he falls asleep. Emily’s pursuit is authenticity, so what she shows us truly is authentic.
Emily is a mother herself, and came to the project with a mother’s eye. Children can be unpredictable and sensitive. You cannot anticipate how they’re going to react over the course of a long shoot, and Emily is sympathetic to the changeable nature of children. Sometimes a baby needs a break and finds a little bit of distress. Of course, if their expression doesn’t align with the plan for the shot it can be frustrating, but Emily is more aware of the larger picture. “As a Mom I want that baby to be comforted. So the baby goes and gets comforted by their Mom and if they feel like playing they come back.” Until then, Emily works with what she has, eking as much real life as she can out of every moment.