We often see a photographer’s style as an end product. But on this Style Spotlight, Nolan Zangas sits down to share his perspective and process as he quickly makes a name for himself within the photography community. At the age of 18, Nolan has already started his professional career by bringing people into his world in colorful, breathtaking ways.
Already, Nolan’s eye for photography has taken him across the globe, allowing him the opportunity to experiment with many kinds of photography. He has a distinctive affinity for urban and natural environments, brought to life with color. “I try to keep my images as realistic as possible, but definitely put an emphasis on colors in order to make the image pop more,” he explained.
Finding Your Style
Growing up in New York City, Nolan discovered his love for photography from atop his skateboard. Riding around the city with friends, they would take turns photographing each other with their phones. It was during this time that Nolan, challenging himself to make each shot as appealing as possible, realized he wanted to pursue the craft further. “Eventually I started realizing my love for taking pictures and decided to purchase a DSLR with some money I had been saving up. From there my interest in photography sparked,” he recalled.
Style in Focus
Nolan had no qualms revealing the origins of his particular style, stating: “I found my style over time by trial and error, as well as influence from my surroundings. Just from going out almost every day to shoot, I started to realize what specific things I liked shooting and what I did not.”
When asked how others can incorporate his style into their own body of work, however, Nolan discourages it. “It’s easy to look at someone’s work and recreate their techniques into your own, but this doesn’t leave you with original content. I believe one of the most important parts of being a photographer is finding what differentiates your work from others. Finding your style is just as important as finding your passion for something.”
Lightroom in Style
Like much of what Nolan’s learned about photography, his approach to post-production was a byproduct of trial and error. “Over time, I became more and more familiar with Lightroom and was able to produce more consistent edits that showcase my work in a distinctive way,” he said, adding, “It was really just an overtime process of me finding my style.”
Because much of his particular flair comes from how he treats colors, he invited us to walk through how he uses Lightroom to bring his photography to life.
Before any real editing takes place, Nolan adjusts the contrast and lighting within his photography to establish a baseline of light and shadow for the edits to enhance. In this particular case, he uses the radial selection tool to brighten the foggy canopy and pull shadows into the ground below—framing the whole scene.
Although he is a photographer whose work springs to life with his use of color, he only emphasizes the colors present. In this piece, that means using a split-toner to make the scene colder, but keeping his sliders closer to green as not to interrupt the palette of the forest floor, excluding the subject which he breathes slightly warmer colors into.
From there, he tweaks the edits he’s made until he finds his desired balance of elements. The result is an image that feels like a snapshot of a genuine moment.
For the Love of Photography
The main reason Nolan continues to love photography is the behavior it promotes. “No matter where I may be, I always find myself observing my surroundings and looking for a shot.” It is that awareness, and the drive to share the world he sees with others, that will keep him capturing and improving his photography.