His Story: Henry Nathan

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Henry Nathan and I’m a photographer and videographer based in the south of England. I’m currently studying at the University of Leeds majoring in film, photography and media.

Tell us something interesting that was part of your childhood.

Spending parts of the summer in Jamaica with my family, getting to know all the staff at the resort out there and going back every year. Also, I started to learn how to water ski when I was 7 and have done it every year ever since.

What is your favourite thing about England?

I would say the culture and sports such as watching and playing cricket in the summer and supporting my football team, Arsenal throughout the Premier League.

You’re currently studying Film, Photography, and Media at the University of Leeds. Tell us about your choice of study?

Basically, I really love the city of Leeds and wanted to study here. Not only that, I wanted a good university and a good film course. I looked at a lot of film courses and quite a number of them are practical based. I wanted a good mix of theory and practical just to get that degree while improving the skills that I already know

What is one fond memory from your entire university life thus far?

Probably going to the Otley Run with my friends.

Editor’s Note: The Otley Run is a pub crawl that was started from Leeds.

What’s your take on ‘passion’?

I love creating something that looks amazing and particularly love the post production stage when it comes to photography. Also, I love to meet up with other photographers and work with them to create something incredible.

How long have you been shooting?

I studied photography at school, so I would say I have been shooting since A levels ( around 16 years old). That is also the first time I got my DSLR.

What equipment do you usually shoot with?

At the moment my Canon 5D Mark II.  I also use a Sony a7s full frame camera for videos. I do quite a lot of video works as well. But camera wise, I always use a Canon.

How would you classify your style of photographs?

I would say it is quite a mix. Mostly landscape based but I also love portraits and urban. Yeah, I do climb on roofs to get night shots.

I love using a shallow depth of field and precise composition to get my style of photography across. The rustic analogue look is the kind of style that I am striving for. However, I do prefer a low saturation compared to a strong one and gloomy look. Mainly, I compose my photos to look good on Instagram rather than displaying them on the walls. My thought process when it comes to that would be “Would that look good on Instagram? How would that work?”

Originally when Instagram only allow me to post in square, I would have to think whether it fits and looks good in a square even though now I can branch out a bit thanks to Instagram, for making it more flexible.

What makes an ideal location for your shoots?

It really depends on what kind of scene I go for. If I am going for an urban kind of landscape, I will try to find brick walls and puddles along the sidewalks to compose my photos. An important point would be that I always shoot during night fall for urban photos. If I were to travel to a city with amazing landscapes such as mountains, the golden hour is the style I am going for. Yeah, I really do chase sunsets!

How do you normally edit your shots? Any tips?

I normally use Adobe Lightroom.

I would always bring out the details more and sometimes I would lower the saturation. I use the tone curves quite a lot as it is a good tool to use. Also, I do love to create the faded effect to bring in the analogue look.

If I am posting a photo on Instagram, I would sometimes edit it on Lightroom first before transferring it to my iPhone. Then comes the second round of post production using the application, VSCO Cam. 

Who are your biggest inspirations and/or role models in this line of creative output?

I love works from Henri Cartier-Bresson. His style of composition and capturing the decisive moment really intrigue me.

Some instagrammers I look up to are @robstrok and @andyto. I do love how they manage to capture light in their photographs and their post production is simply breathtaking. I actually do know some instagrammers and have have met some of them in New York. 

You took a year out to work to travel and visited countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand! Care to tell us more about this entire trip?

Yes, I did! There were so many great moments!

I did a road trip from Los Angeles up to San Francisco in a Ford mustang with my friend which was one of the highlights from the trip. We worked our way up across the coast all the way up to San Francisco and back down to Los Angeles. On the last day of the trip, we had a little accident in the car park. Someone hit the back of our mustang while my friend was reversing. We went through a bit of a dodgy company and there was no way of getting it back so we had to pay a hefty fee for the damage.

New Zealand was probably my second favourite place because it is a country that is so different from what I have experienced during my travels. You can be at the beach for a moment and then down south where you get to be amazed by the glacier formations. The landscape of the entire country is simply amazing! It is a very beautiful country.

When I was in Peru, I met these two guys that are my age and my last trip to Barcelona was for a reunion. That guy is currently studying in Barcelona so I went out to meet him. It was mainly to chill and have a bit of fun. Oh and also, I went up to Montserrat in January by train and then a cable car. It was all good fun.

Since we are on the topic of travelling, do you have any other countries/cities you plan to travel to?

I'm going to Budapest in April, which is quite exciting as its a city I have yet to explore.

In June, I am probably going to California, all across Nirvana and up to Vancouver, Canada. It is all the way up the West Coast. This trip is still in its planning process because I am working with a New York company for that and they are sponsoring the whole trip. My frequent trips to New York as you many have noticed on my Instagram is for a meeting with the company, Adorama to shoot and create a mini documentary. The entire trip of meeting various photographers out there and just the whole experience would take about 12 short episodes.

Every July, I will be in Jamaica because my family owns a house there. I frequently travel to Jamaica, probably once or twice a year, for that reason. It is a place I love to photograph with its outstanding and symbolic culture. The locals there are amazing especially when I try to photograph them. I can capture the authenticity of the person really easily.

What do you think of Instagram as a platform for creative work?

Instagram is such an amazing platform to be able to share your work with other people and get instant feedback. I think that is the main thing really. From the feedback, you actually start to get better with your photography techniques. Instagram allows users to get inspiration when they browse feeds like @canon_photos where I started.

Why did you start @canon_photos?

I started @canon_photos alone with an ambition to create a community of photographers where they can share their photos and also gain inspiration. This feed also particularly helps those avid photographers to build up that kind of standard. It has grown over the past few years and is also a platform where I can share my own work too.

I have teamed up with a company about 6 months to a year ago and we are currently building a website for it. However, I am still the only person that runs the Instagram account.

How do you build your audience for both your personal and @canon_photos accounts then?

The main thing is content. You have to put your content out and if you stop, it kind of slows down. When I was travelling, I realized that I was getting a lot more followers than when I am in Leeds where I'm barely shooting. Also, I think interacting with instagrammers is really important like commenting on their accounts like “I love that. How do you do that?” This will help you build up the audience for sure.

Besides media, film and photography, do you see yourself dabbling in other forms of work additionally?

Originally, I got into photography through art at my last school near Eastbourne called Bedes where I boarded. While I was there I studied art, photography, media and business at A level. I actually got an Arts scholarship.

I love drawing. I can draw but I think photos and films are for me.

Regarding film, when and why did you started dabbling in that?

I started doing media studies at school and a good part of this required me to produce a film trailer and a music video. I just really love that so I took it seriously and researched it to build up my kind of style.

At the moment, I am working with up and coming music artistes to produce music videos for them. That is why I am travelling back to London once or twice a week to film. It is quite a lot of effort for me but it is all worth it because of my passion for filmmaking.

Do you ever consider yourself working for brands?

I do work with some brands on my canon account and one of which is Harper & Brooks, a watch company. They contacted me and I do quite a lot of work for them.

If you were stranded on an island and can only take 3 items with you, what would they be?

My camera, laptop and hard drive.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Hopefully in 5 years, I would love to be travelling around the world and doing what I like such as photography and filming documentaries. I would also love to see the website of my Instagram account @canon_photos up and running. That is the main goal at the moment to get that fully functional and have that be successful.