A Conversation with Nick Walden
April 1st, 2019 | Words by Bryson Smith | Photos by Nick Walden
Nick Walden is the chief visual designer and photographer at Nomad; he also takes a ton of our Instagram pictures. In his spare time, Nick enjoys travel, camping, working on his 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon, and exploring new places with his adventure buddy, Tucker the Adventure Pup.
I managed to sneak in a quick conversation with Nick amidst his busy schedule (look out for some more rad stuff coming soon from Nomad). Below is our conversation, edited for clarity. Nick will share some mobile photo tips, along with his favorite trips and grab bag essentials.
First off, can you share with us a little bit about your role at Nomad?
So I take a lot of photos for Nomad obviously, I’m the photographer. I also curate a lot of the visual content that appears on our site, Instagram, packaging, and wherever else Nomad has images. I guess in a way I’m responsible for making sure that all of our images have a Nomad character and feel to them that is specific to our brand identity. Basically, I make sure that all of our visuals remain consistent and maintain a feel that is unique to Nomad.
Can you explain what it is you look for when you are shooting images or choosing outside work?
We try to have shots that are at the same time perfect yet realistic so a lot of my job is finding that sweet spot. I try to balance shooting in a studio environment with creating lighting that you could find in a more organic setting, like a coffee shop or someone’s home or office. I aim to keep our lighting a little uneven rather than a traditional even-lit studio feel. To me, lighting is the most important aspect of any photo. In maintaining the balance between clear and clean images, I’m able to not only highlight our products but also emphasize a darker character that I find unique to our brand.
What is your goal when shooting Nomad Products?
Well, most importantly, I want to show off our products and highlight the materials that are unique to Nomad, whether it be Kevlar or Horween Leather. On top of that, I try to convey how someone can use our products, especially when they have just been released. Overall, what I am trying to create is a sense of what you can do with these products once you get your hands on them.
Go-to Camera and Lens?
I shoot on a Canon DSLR primarily. I have some Canon Glass and some Sigma glass. I’m a big fan of the Sigma lenses because they help produce images that are clear and crisp.
I don’t have a specific go-to lens, but I tend to use lenses for our product shots that are 100mm or higher to keep the focal length tighter. This ensures that our products remain the central focus of the images. I tend to shy away from wide angle distortion because I’ve found it throws off the viewer on how the products really look.
Do you shoot much on your phone at all?
I actually shoot quite a lot on my phone. I always have my phone on me and I’ve noticed the cameras in the newer phones- whether it be Android or iPhone- have awesome cameras. You can capture a lot of different stuff with your phone. Now on my personal Instagram, I don’t even post shots that I take from my DSLR, I just post shots from my phone and occasionally some from my film cameras. I love our cases for taking pictures because the leather has such a natural feel to it. This makes my phone feel secure in my hand and I’m not worried about dropping it. Instead, I can focus on image composition.
Are you using Moment Lenses?
Yes, I love shooting with their lenses. Going back to what I said earlier, the quality of the cameras on newer phones is so high that when you combine an iPhone with a Moment lens, you can take some incredible shots. Plus you stay super light, it's easy to have the lens and your phone with you at all times, which allows you to capture really cool images spontaneously.
At the moment, Sean Tucker, I like that he embraces shadows and natural light. He primarily shoots street photography and rather than trying to mute or control natural light and shadows, he embraces them and allows that to create the composition of the photo.
Moving on from photography, what’s one of your favorite easy weekend trips?
If I only have a day or two I like exploring the backcountry in Santa Barbara. You can find beautiful spots with no one around in the mountains above the city and camp, all the while surrounded by beautiful vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Plus, it only takes an hour or so to get to a lot of my favorite destinations in the Santa Barbara mountains, so I have more time to explore and spend less time stuck behind the wheel.
What’s your dream trip?
There are so many amazing places to visit, that's a hard one.
Ok, tell us about one of them.
Well, one of the next big trips that I absolutely want to take is to Bali and Bora Bora.
I can’t get enough of beautiful beaches and the pace of island life. I also love sailing and boating. Plus, I grew up in the cold of Michigan so I find myself drawn to the tropics and warmth.
Didn’t you grow up sailing on Lake Michigan?
Actually, my family started off with a small powerboat, but as we grew older we eventually got a sailboat. It’s funny, now my parents are retired and have an even bigger boat that they use to explore tons of cool places. So yeah if I end up in Bali, it’ll be pretty nice to sail on a warm ocean rather than a freezing lake.
Drink of Choice?
Horchata, it's so refreshing and delicious. There is a great taqueria a block away from the Nomad HQ that I walk past every day. As the weather gets warmer it's becoming harder to say no.
"If I end up in Bali it’ll be pretty nice to sail on a warm ocean, rather than a freezing lake."
Favorite Nomad Product?
I’d probably go with the Base Station for Apple Watch because I don’t have to worry about charging my phone and Apple Watch every day. I can just set them down when I go to sleep and when I wake up my devices are powered and ready to go.
Any final words of advice/thoughts?
Take your time, slow down and always be trying to see things from a new perspective. You’re never going to capture interesting new images if you’re only shooting from the point of view most people are always looking from.
Nick's Favorite Nomad Gear
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