Scott Nathan (link) is an Award winning American photographer & director. Scott Nathan is best known for his iconic celebrity portraiture for clients like Katy Perry, Dita Von Teese & Maroon 5. Scott Nathan has shot numerous global advertising campaigns from clients as diverse as Urban Decay Cosmetics to The U.S. Marine Corps.
Who are some of the clients you’ve worked with?
Scott Nathan: Katy Perry, Dita Von Teese, Sephora, Schwarzkopf Professional Hair Care, Aloxxi International, Sultra, Bio Ionic Hair Care, Agave Hair Care, Harper Collins Press, Elle (USA), Emmy Magazine, U.S. Marines, Elle Decor (USA), Allure (USA), Sony Pictures Entertainment, MGM, and Fred Segal Beauty. Global Syndication by Corbis Outline.
Tell us about your family:
Scott Nathan: My parents have been married 55 years and been inseparable since they were 12 & 13. They worked together for the vast majority of it. I have one older sister and recently discovered 2 new half sisters and a half brother via my biological father. Found this all out less than 2 years ago. I grew up in Chicago.
Did you face any major adversity as a child or teen?
Scott Nathan: I’ve always been what I like to think of as the fluid. Adaptable. I have a few friends here that call me “The Cactus” because I need so little attention. Put me alone anywhere and I’ll find people to talk to.
While I was a skinny red-headed kid & not rushing a thousand yards a game, nor having my way with the head cheerleader under the stands, I somehow managed to transcend cliques and had friends in all social circles. It was a survival technique then and continues to serve me in my work today. If you can’t fight, be funny.
Where did you go to high school/college/grad school?
Scott Nathan: I went to New Trier High School on Chicago’s North Shore. It was a big beautiful place. There wasn’t much in the way of cultural diversity. It was sheltered and it’s a great place to be from.
For College I hopped around a bit. I briefly attended Northwestern University which was a great school. I decided it was too close to home & I needed some change. I transferred to the University of Colorado at Boulder where I spent the next four years & studied Psychology there, primarily because Psychology had the highest enrollment of women.
Work and career before launching or buying a company
Scott Nathan: I was sure I wanted to be in the music business during college. Despite being a passionate photography enthusiast since I was 9, I never saw a way to make a good living at it. I loved music. Out of school, I got a job with a music management company & worked with artists. It was a vibrant scene in Chicago back then with great local acts like Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill & Material Issue.
After that, I worked for an affiliate of Warner Chappell a music publishing company, working with more writers & artists and became a talent buyer and concert promoter for a large music venue and managed some artists as well. I felt I’d gone as far as I could in L.A. & decided it was time to move west. I took a job at Atlantic Records in the A&R department. It was short lived. Music was a great way to spend my 20’s, but at a certain point, it felt like being in love with the girl who was never going to love you back.
At that point, the internet was new and I had a solid computer science background. I had an idea to start building websites. I partnered up with a friend who was a screenwriter and former art director at a few ad agencies. We did a hundred or so websites for clients ranging from Sony Pictures to Jenna Jameson’s site which sold to Playboy for many tens of millions of dollars.
It was a good solid company until one day I decided I wanted to have a go at turning pro in photography.
Where are some of your favorite places in the world?
The Amalfi Coast, Southern Italy.
Africa – I was inspired at a young age by Hemingway and always longed for Africa. I’ve gone on both photographic & hunting/ fishing safaris in Limpopo, Botswana & Zimbabwe. Much more exploration to be done there. I stay at a private game lodge there called Sawari. It’s about 5.5 hours north of Johannesburg and 49KM’s from Botswana.
Costa Careyes Mexico – Careyes is a special place that was the vision of an Italian guy named Gianfranco Brignone. It’s nearly impervious to commercialism. Virtually no hotels, or commerce of any kind. Just fun loving European & American expats & visitors with lavish architectural homes. Great Polo & great fishing too.
What are your favorite hotels in the world?
Scott Nathan: Hotel-Bel Air – Los Angeles, California – I’m a landscape architecture nut and the gardens at the Bel-Air were designed by Jon Goldstein. It’s a tranquil Eden in the city. I also love Hotel Danieli – Venice Italy
What are your top 5 favorite restaurants in the world?
Scott Nathan: Camponeschi – Piazza Farnese – Rome
Riccio – Capri Italy
Sakana Sushi – Montecito, Calfornia
Wolvesmouth by Chef Craig Thornton – Los Angeles (open to the public, but must apply & wait)
Glass & the other restaurants by Australian Chef Luke Mangan. Luke’s a genius and makes great simple food. No foam. Nothing molecular. No art school.
What are you 3 favorite fashion brands?
I’m a simple guy when it comes to fashion. I’m mostly in my photographers uniform which is a James Perse black T shirt. I like the bespoke Jeans from Schaffer’s Garment Hotel in Hollywood and Stronghold in Venice, California. My hats are bespoke fur felt from Master Hatter Gunner Foxx. He looks at your face & decides the rest.
I have a bit of a boot problem.
I wear a lot of vintage motorcycle boots. I love boots from James Purdey & Sons in Mayfair. I have prison boots from the 20’s and old engineers boots from the 50’s & 60’s.
As for brand brands, The new Calvin Klein suits fit me great & I’ve always been a sample size for Prada. Both good for long slim guys. My tux is a handmade silk Baldesserini. I rarely wear it, but when I do, it’s as comfortable as pajamas.
What is your favorite car brand? I prefer the aesthetics & design of English & Italian marques, but have driven mostly German. I play it safe with Mercedes & BMW.
That said, I’m more of a biker. I’ve been a motorcyclist for most of my life and have owned more than 60 of just about every conceivable maker. My favorite has been my ‘72 Norton Commando. It’s a rare bike with a Combat Engine and a rare interstate tank. The logos & stripes were all done in gold leafing. I also currently own a 2007 Ducati GT1000 Sportclassic. It has great vintage Italian style, sounds amazing with Termignoni race only exhaust and is all day comfy. I’ve got my eyes on one of the New Nortons. Either the Commando or Dominator/Domiracer.
What does luxury mean to you?
I’ve always said “I appreciate luxury, but I do not require it”. Travel is my greatest luxury. I’m not someone who has a list of 10 places I must see in a day. Maybe I’ll make it to all of them, maybe I’ll instead end up having a coffee with a stranger I meet who’s family has lived there since the 1500’s. Everyone has something different that makes them tick. Feeding the soul is luxury.
Nature & quiet are my luxuries. Going camping alone every year for a few days on Santa Cruz Island or Yosemite is a great luxury. Sleeping in my tent. Grabbing a few Sea Urchins out of the water for breakfast and taking a hike without hearing the din of the city.
Playing golf is a luxury. I’ve played some of the best courses in the world like St. Andrews & Pebble Beach, but I’m just as happy playing my $15.00 muni & carrying my bag. I’ve always been happy riding Mulholland drive on a fussy old English motorcycle.
What are 3 ways to live luxuriously without spending so much money?
Be social. Do little things for yourself. For some people it’s flowers in the house or a manicure. For me, it’s communing with Mother nature.
Also be a fun & gracious guest and get invited places.
What are 5 travel tips for our readers?
Don’t be afraid to travel alone. Some of the best trips I’ve taken were spontaneous.
Don’t wait until “XYZ” – Life’s a short ride. The road to “Someday” leads to a place called nowhere. Go now. Even if you’re low on money, it will work out. It always does.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE
What are 3 ways to increase your social media following?
I try not to put a lot of stock in numbers. Any attractive girl can post provocative images and get numbers, but who are the followers and what’s the value? If it’s narcissism, I get it. I live in it’s birthplace.
The numbers have never been a priority for me. I like to share my pictures & my stories with people. If I shoot a celebrity, Yeah, I acknowledge I’ll get many more engagements. Nowadays people seem to be responding to my anecdotes and funny stories which are just basically journal entries of various points of my life. Some of them are getting 10’s of thousands of views. It’s still new, but it’s fun to poke around on.
How did you build your following?
People became fans of my work and or fans of the people I work with. Praise is a 2 edged sword though. It used to bother me when a piece of what I felt to be really good personal work wasn’t getting the love that an image of an iconic celebrity was. Now I remind myself. I got into the arts to express myself. Not to win a popularity contest. I’m grateful to have the fans & patrons I do.
What is your favorite platform and how do you utilize it?
I post mostly on Facebook and most often on Instagram. My Instagram Isn’t what I’d call carefully curated. I don’t treat it as a business tool so much. Yes, my pro work is there, but there are many more snapshots of my day to day life & interests like everyone else’s. It’s an eclectic mixture of work, travel, skeet shooting, hunting, fishing, models & motorcycles.
What do you like to do for fun? What are your hobbies, sports, outlets?
International Skeet Shooting, which is the version of Skeet shot in the Olympics. It’s the same layout as American Skeet, but the targets are faster and there are more pairs (doubles). Still very much of a beginner, but I discovered Polo last year & take lessons when I have time at Santa Barbara Polo & Raquet Club with Coach John Westley. Motorcycles of course.
Hunting. Never for trophies. Nothing I don’t eat. I love wingshooting Pheasant, Quail, Dove & Partridge. I love Plains Game hunting in Africa. I love cooking & eating wild game. I’m partial to Weatherby Mark V Rifles & just got a new one made from their custom shop. It’s oil finished walnut, left-handed action and cerakoted black & chambered in .300 Weatherby Magnum.