Nathan Bajar has published his photographs in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Vice Magazine, Refinery 29, The Fader, Hypebeast.com, A.R.T.S.Y Magazine, and is absolutely nothing like I expected him to be. As a Montclair State University Alumni, he came back yesterday to give a guest presentation to art students and me, a random girl who took photography for giggles to see what I could learn. However, I found that his speech far surpassed the photo advice that he gave us, and taught me a few different things that I never would have expected to learn in a cramped little art room with nothing but small plastic seats.
I think when someone successful comes to mind, whether they be a musician, artist, writer, athlete, or anything of the like, we conjure up images of this larger than life person on a heroic journey that seems just about everything other than attainable. I’ve seen many successful professionals speak and have even talked to them personally, but never once did I think to myself, “Wow I will definitely accomplish everything they did in the next five years.” They just seem transcended and unattainable, and I think that’s where many people give up- because even when onlookers ask this idol how it was done, the answers of “work hard and be yourself” don’t quite satiate the desires of the asker nor do they seem like a practical guide to take actionable steps forward.
But here is why I liked Nathan so much: Not only did he provide a step by step answer as to how he does exactly what he does, but he also didn’t pretend to know the answers to all of our questions. He didn’t act as if though he loved all of his work or that he was anywhere close to being done with his growth. He showed us his photography that he considered “crap” and allowed us into the tender moments of his family as he shared with us his failures. He broke down any larger than life idea I had about being successful and served as a reminder that success is achieved by regular people who have the patience to sift through obstacles, regardless of whether or not they know they’ll ever make it.
He was eccentric, a little scatterbrained in the absolute best way, candid and open. When asked about the process of transitioning from student to photographing for famous publications, he laughed and said something to the effect of, “It’s just really fucking hard.” Rock on Nathan- thanks for being real.
To see more of Nathan’s work, you can find his instagram @nate_nate or visit NathanBajar.com.
All photos by Nathan Bajar