Emily Nathan Keeps It Real
When Emily Nathan tasked her magazine, Tiny Atlas Quarterly, with presenting an interview with fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, she already had a structure for the interview to fit into. TAQ is in the middle of a four part series with each subsequent issue inspired by another element. The latest issue is “Water,” so most of the conversation with Cynthia is centered around water, and Lake Tahoe acts as the backdrop for the entire shoot.
Tiny Atlas Quarterly is first and foremost a “lifestyle approach to travel.” That’s what sets them apart. The shoots Emily does aren’t the run of the mill planned shot lists and set-ups deal. Instead, it all happens authentically and organically. Every moment is really happening in front of the camera. “The way that I approach production is a series of activities that people can actually experience,” explains Emily. As they were going through the day on Lake Tahoe, setting up the situations that played out in real time, Emily learned that the model doesn’t really swim or go out on water when left to her own devices. So they put the model behind the steering wheel of a beautiful, vintage Italian boat, pulled the throttle to the max and let her drive. “She was driving this Italian vintage speedboat as fast as it could possibly go in lake Tahoe and you see that on her face,” says Emily. “You know? It’s a real moment because she was stoked! She had never been on a boat!” If Emily were to set this shot up, with a bunch of lighting rigs and an actress, she still would not have been able to get an image like the one she captured, no matter how hard she planned. Since Emily does it for real, she’ll get that shot every time.
In addition to spending the day on Lake Tahoe for Cynthia Rowley, Emily also went to Big Sur with conservationist Charles Post to shadow him and discover his work for the first time. They went to his research station up on the top of Big Sur, hidden away behind miles of switchback roads and dense forestry. “We were waking up at sunrise and Charles has his binoculars out and is telling us all the birds the we’re seeing,” Emily describes the beginning of their day together. “And then we’re hiking down to the creek and looking under the stones and seeing the different larvae that are supposed to be there and looking for birds, and hiking up and down the creek.” Charles knows this land, he loves this land, and he’s trying to help this land stay alive. Human activity and habitat expansion threatens specials and environments all over the world. Big Sur is no different, and Emily is able to offer us a look at how the people on the front lines do their important work.
Emily is based out of California, and ironically the “Water” issue released at the height of California’s drought. But almost that same day, it started raining. When asked if she thinks the magazine broke the drought, she said “I wouldn’t say I did that…” with a laugh.
To read, and experience, the rest of Tiny Atlas Quarterly's "Water" issue, click here.