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Interview with Nick Nacca, Advertising Photographer

Photography is a creative profession, so you don't expect any photographer to make the same shot in the same way as someone else. I talked with Nick Nacca, who has 38 years of experience, about his career and photographic approach.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Nick Nacca

Nick Nacca


by Melisa Kaya

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From Galápagos penguins to supercars, we can see extreme natural and artificial beauties thanks to photographers. We also see newly unveiled products, such as kitchen equipment or smartphones, from photographers' perspectives before they are taking their place on the shelves. It is important to produce a quality, useful and stylish product, but the process does not end here. The quality of the photos that will be used in the advertisement, which is the method of showing this product to consumers, also has a crucial role in the whole process. The photographer, who is the main factor in this process, is responsible for reflecting the fascinating aspects of the product, whether it be a car or a toothbrush, and those who can achieve this can only have a long career. Nick Nacca offers still photography and video services to his clients over 38 years in this challenging industry. I talked with Nick Nacca about his career and the importance of advertising photography.

Nick, before talking about photography, I would like to learn more about you. When did you get your first camera? Do you remember the first photo that you shoot with it?

I got my first camera during my junior year of high school. I still have the first images from it including the very first image I captured, developed and printed myself.

Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Nick Nacca?

Nick Nacca is an old dog that likes to learn new tricks. After 38 years in the business, I'm as exited about photography as when I started.

When I'm not shooting, I'm traveling and camping with my wife.

Ford Explorer - Photo by Nick Nacca

Ford Explorer - Photo by Nick Nacca

How did you decide to pursue a career in photography and establish your own studio? What inspired you?

In high school, I was interested in art but didn't have the patience for painting or illustration. I decided to sign up for the photography class. On the first day, the instructor handed out a short questionnaire asking if we were taking the class for fun or to do photography for a living. At that moment I chose my future career.

Could you tell us about Nick Nacca Photography and your team?

I'm a one-man show but work with a talented group of freelance assistants, retouchers, makeup artists and stylists.

What kind of services do you offer to your clients?

High quality still photography and video.

How did your interest in advertising photography has begun? What is the most special aspect of ad photography for you?

At first, I was generalist, shooting a wide range of subjects, but was naturally drawn to dramatic lighting in the studio. Lighting I could control. I enjoy collaborating with art directors and clients to create images that will stand out in this cluttered world.

Weston Shaving - Photo by Nick Nacca

Weston Shaving - Photo by Nick Nacca

You have worked in numerous campaigns for many globally recognized brands such as Ford. What are the key points that you pay attention to most before accepting a new project?

The first questions I ask myself: is this project a good fit for my capabilities and style? It's hard to turn down work in this market, but I will if I'm not excited about a particular project.

How would you describe the effect of the quality of the ad photo on the customers' decisions? You have many automotive photography works. What kind of other photography fields do you like to work on?

Images have different goals, but for what I do it's all about triggering an emotional reaction from the consumer to make a purchase. Sometimes it's to buy a product, other times it could just be to convey an idea. My specialties are still life/product, automotive and portrait.

What are the advantages of being an award-winning photographer? Could you tell us about the awards that you won?

The advantage is to get my name out there my work seen by people who would possibly hire me for projects that are a good fit, if been featured in regional and national photo exhibits and contests.

Photo by Nick Nacca

Photo by Nick Nacca

Is it possible for abroad clients to work with you for their projects in their own countries?

Absolutely. It's a smaller world these days. Projects can come anywhere around the globe.

Which factors determine the project budget?

Time, usage, talent, crew, location, travel, post-production, number of images needed, video, I could go on for hours.

What are your expectations from your clients for a successful collaboration?

My clients are my partners, so I desire solid communication and direction. If a client is unorganized and doesn't know what they want, there's no way I can deliver an effective image. Sometimes they just trust me and say do what you think is best. That's ok, but the trust needs to be there.

Why should companies work with professional photographers? What does pro photo works contribute to their products and campaigns?

As I said, it's a cluttered market. To stand out, clients need to create and execute strong campaigns utilizing photography, illustration, and design that highlights their brand.

What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in photography? How could they choose the right specialty?

That's a personal choice. It really comes down to subjects that you like. A good exercise is to go through magazines and tear out pages with images you like. Keep them in a folder, and soon it will be obvious what kind of specialty is best for you.

What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken?

If I had to choose just one, it would be an image I shot while mountain biking in Northern California. My buddy and I came around a corner on a dusty trail late in the afternoon, and there was this amazing light.

Beam Rider - Photo by Nick Nacca

Beam Rider - Photo by Nick Nacca

What do you think about social media?

Instagram is the new blog and portfolio in one. A must for photographers and other creatives. LinkedIn is great for making connections and is integrated with Behance portfolios, so that's another great place to show your work.

What is next for you?

I've been working on an experimental animated lighting technique for portraits. It's a unique blend of stills and motion that I'm really excited about. Hope to roll it out later this year.

Thank you Nick for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Nick Nacca