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Meet Venice Beach Photographer: Nate Hassler

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

Nate, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began shooting photos at a very young age, my dad worked as a commercial photographer for over 30 years so I grew up around the craft. I found my love of cars and motorsports as a teenager and slowly began to shoot the subjects more and more. I held a staff editor position with a publishing company for about 4 years which was a great jumping off point, and a great way to gather more bylines and magazine cover tear sheets than you can shake a stick at. I have 35 published cover shots or something like that, haven’t counted for a while. Today, I work as a team with my wife and fellow photographer Lisa Linke whenever possible. Our “first date” was photographing a 24-hour endurance race in Belgium, and then a week long road trip through Italy in a very fast German car with 2 doors and no roof. I basically invited myself to Europe to hang out with her and for some reason which I still don’t understand, she actually agreed. The rest, as they say, is history!

Has it been a smooth road?
The path has been anything but smooth, or straight and narrow. I grew up in Portland Oregon and I spent my early 20s trying to kind of figure out what I wanted to do with my life, not a unique story but relevant none the less. I worked with my dad shooting mostly clothing and hard goods on a daily basis. Eventually, my dad retired and I found myself facing a tough choice. Do I stay here in a struggling economy or get the hell out of Dodge? I thought about it for a month or less; I moved to LA in 2009, and I didn’t have a lot to go on, to be honest. I didn’t have any work lined up, I had some prospects but nothing solid. My aunt was going to let me live in her basement in Manhattan Beach for 6 months with no rent, and the weather in Portland was about to start sucking really bad so I said “f*** it” and threw all my stuff in a UHAUL and headed south on I-5. If I hadn’t gotten my first job a month or 2 later at the magazine, I’m quite sure my life today would be much different. The job had ups and downs, without a doubt. I met one of my best clients while I was working there, and I got to do a lot of fun stuff. Working as a low-level editor in a pool of many other larger magazines made it hard sometimes too of course. We rarely had a budget for photography so I had to find ways to pull off something cool with little resources. Shooting like this honestly helped me grow a lot, and I had 2 really great Editors in Chief who were very understanding of the struggles we faced collectively. It was really hard for me to walk away from that job, but I am glad I did it when I did. The time was right, and now I’m much happier working freelance, and my career has moved onward and upward whereas I was banging my head on the walls nearly every day at the old job.

If I had never gotten the magazine job, I would have probably tried to work in the motion industry. I shoot motion now as well, as a way to compliment my still photography and offer more choices to clients. I hope to continue to build the motion side of my business more and more over the years, which is a struggle all of its own. Being a relative newcomer to any industry means you have to fight hard to open doors, photography and motion picture are no different. The struggle is real, and constantly changing; the issues I was facing 3 or 4 years ago seem like distant memories, and I’m sure I’ll say the same thing 5 years from now and laugh looking back on things I’m stressing about today. My biggest struggle today is finding ways to keep progressing my business when there are lulls between jobs. Little known fact… Professional photographers spend very little of their time actually behind a camera. Many people I meet don’t realize how much work it is to market yourself, maintain client relationships, seek out new clients, perform tests and try new techniques, etc… It’s all the same “regular” stuff any small business owner deals with really.

What is the most difficult part of what you do?
The hardest part for me is staying motivated when things get tough, or worse yet when things are good and you begin to take it for granted. It’s easy to get complacent but you just can’t. There is always someone who is hungrier than you, and trying new and interesting things. Gotta keep up. Another thing all photographers struggle with is seeing work from other shooters, and sometimes it isn’t very good, and you can’t help but wonder “why did that person get paid to produce that instead of me?” It’s a natural reaction we all have on one level or another, but you must control your thoughts, otherwise you’ll go insane.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I feel that success is a rolling concept because one can not accomplish goals or reach landmarks once and then just stop. There is always room for improvement and growth as an artist. Achieving beautiful imagery and enjoying the craft is the way I define “success” as a photographer. Success from a business ownership standpoint is a different concept, but there is a crossover of course. That’s where the whole “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life” thing comes from I guess.

What are your plans for the future?
Pushing to include video in more and more projects, even if it’s just for behind the scenes or social media purposes. I’m also really loving aerial photography; I bought a prosumer drone last year as a cheap entry into the genre, and I’ve definitely proved my concept!

Contact Info:

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1 Comment

  1. Trisha

    November 1, 2016 at 01:15

    Great article! Love to hear about local creative minds and their stories.

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