Nate Zoller - Photographer

When and where did you first start surfing?
I first stood up on a surfboard when I was eight years old at San Onofre. The ocean was a big scary monster at that age. Once I got a bit bigger and more comfortable in the ocean I gave it a real go, I think I was eleven.

What is it that you love about surfing and the ocean?
I’m drawn to the ocean for the same reasons that everyone else is. It mellows me out and gives me rewarding feelings. As humans we are made out of the same ratio of salt to water that the ocean is. So I believe the reason we feel so good after leaving the ocean is because we have reached equilibrium, its like going back into the womb. 

How did you first get into photography?
I was given a Canon Rebel film camera when I turned twelve. From there I shot blindly with no real lessons or instruction. I think that eventually shaped the way I look at photography today. I’m not technical, I just know a good moment and I know how to frame a shot. And to me those are the two most important aspects to good photography.

Can you give us a rundown of some of your go-to gear that you're using at the moment?
Right now when I travel I bring my Canon 7d and 50mm 1.4 lens. I love shooting film when traveling so I bring my Canon F-1 and a Leica Minilux point and shoot with 6-8 rolls of film. I will also use a GoPro in the water when the waves are uncrowded and good to get the POV angle.

What inspires your work?
Travel. For the last five years I have traveled the world quite a bit and I love looking back on my photos years down the line. I get inspired by my older brother Isaac and the success that he’s had behind the lens. It makes me want to outdo him in some ways. 

Other than surfing, what kind of things do you shoot?
I have always been really inspired by travel photography. It’s about being somewhere you have never experienced and capturing that feeling in your photographs. I shoot landscapes, portraits of strangers, empty roads, anything that strikes me as interesting.

Are there any photos that you have taken that stand out as your personal favorites?
My photos tend to have a range of mediums. But I do have a photo that the moment I took I knew it was the most unique shot I have ever gotten. It’s a 30 second exposure of the Northern Lights dancing over Iceland’s biggest glacier Vatnajokul. I took the shot at 3 am in freezing temperatures, but it was worth it.  

Where is the best place on earth that your job has taken you?
Iceland was pretty mind blowing. Around every corner was another crazy Fjord to shoot. It was in the winter so there was only five hours of light every day, which made for incredible light all day long. I was able to surf snowy perfect waves with puffins as well as capture some great images.

What is it that you love about your job?
I love the freedom that I have right now in my life. If I wanted I could book a plane ticket to some remote island in the Pacific and leave tomorrow. Every day is something new, which I enjoy a lot.

If you could shoot anybody/ anything in the world, who/ what would it be?
I want to shoot a photo from the top of a giant sailboat looking at an atoll.

Do you have any advice for the budding/ aspiring photographers out there?
Shoot a lot of photos. Even if most of them are not good, there will always be that one frame that makes it all worth it. Don’t try and make money off of photography, let your style develop and maybe one day someone will want to pay you for your work. Do it for the love. 

Where can we find you online?


Posted by: Matthew Ryan, on February 19, 2015
Categories: Interviews