To Top

Meet Nate Hoffman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nate Hoffman.

Nate, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in a family of amateur photographers; instead of going to theme parks for school holidays we would go places like Alaska or China or other places where good pictures could be taken. I asked to borrow my Dad’s camera on later trips and did my best to compose good shots that would be worth their space on the roll. In high school, I worked as a photographer for the school newspaper and got to experiment with portraiture and got a period to goof off with a camera. After high school, I was convinced I would be a writer and figured the only way I could make money writing was by working for a paper or magazine so I spent a year studying journalism, and at the same time took my first photography class. I started spending all day taking pictures and all night in the darkroom blasting music and printing photos. My photo teacher mentioned a Photography School in Santa Barbara and I figured studying photography on the beach beat studying journalism in the valley so I packed my things, took out an enormous student loan and enrolled at the Brooks Institute of Photography.

I spent a year and a half at Brooks and learned a ton, then I started interning with a photographer in LA and I saw a whole new world open in front of me. I decided it made more sense to make money and learn the ropes in LA rather than stay in Santa Barbara and have instructors critique my composition; so I got job at Smashbox Studios and Briese LA and started assisting other photographers on the side. After becoming a full-time assistant I had the chance to work alongside some of the top shooters in the world, I got to travel a ton and went from learning how to light and work on set to running the show and lighting for a long roster of photographers. After assisting for a while, I started picking up my own clients and have been shooting on my own ever since.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not!

But to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There have been lots of rough patches, I dropped out of school right before the big recession and just got up to speed as people were cutting photo budgets and doing less shoots in general. I’ve worked for difficult photographers, difficult clients, dealt with crappy weather, crappy budgets, lawsuits, etc. etc. the list goes on.

But I’m grateful for each and every one of those struggles because they’ve shaped the photographer/ person I am right now. I don’t count myself old by any means but I’ve been around long enough to see some stuff so at this point, there isn’t much that surprises me.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
So I run a photography business; I specialize in taking pictures of people.

I think everyone takes something different away from my work but I feel like I’m known for creating honest, vibrant pictures that resonate with people. I enjoy getting to know the people I photograph and feel like I succeed when the final image is a representation of that person’s “best self”. I had a client try to describe this to me once and it seemed to make sense, people usually hire me when they want authentic moments with a person or group of people.

Regardless of what I’m photographing I always go back to journalism and documentary imagery; I’ve been told my body of work covers a lot of genres but I always lead people back to my belief that whether I’m shooting an athlete for an ad or a group of kids playing on the beach, I always strive to have a level of truth to the work.

What were you like growing up?
I was a weirdo for sure haha!

When I was younger, I trained really hard on club swimming teams and was hitting the weight room and doing double practices by middle school. I was always really into music and convinced my parents to buy me metal albums I shouldn’t have listened to, that turned into getting really in punk in high school. I skated and surfed a ton as well and started skipping swim practice to surf. I was pretty short growing up and wore tight pants and had a big pompadour in high school so I got picked on, I started going to shows a ton and found a community of friends thru music. I lived in San Diego and I remember driving to LA to see bands play because most of all ages clubs were there, we would pile in a friends car and get back early the next morning, my parents always freaked out and couldn’t understand what I was doing.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nate Hoffman Photography

Suggest a story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in