NATE RYAN // Musically Inclined (#010)


Okay, show of hands. Who here, when you were starting your photography career or just getting into taking pictures said, “I want to be a music photographer!” or “I just want to go shoot photos at concerts!”. I think I can safely say that, at least, the idea has crossed the minds of most visual storytellers at some point. There’s something entrancing about the being a concert or music photographer — maybe it’s the spectacle of the lights and showmanship, maybe for the more video-centric amongst us the purposeful, natural blend of audio and visuals, or maybe it’s something about being part of the concert “experience”.

But shooting concerts for free doesn’t put food on your table. Photo credits don’t keep the lights on. Like being any type of photographer, to truly “make it” as a music photographer you have to niche down, achieve a unique style, and find your creative vision that makes you different – not just better – and create work with value.

Today’s guest is a perfect example of focusing down in your work and honing your craft, but never losing sight of the real-world practicalities of making photography work that makes you a living. Nate Ryan is a Minnesota-based photographer and filmmaker, capturing editorial and commercial imagery with a journalistic approach, telling visual stories with integrity. An avid cyclist and active outdoorsman, Nate loves to capture the stories and environments of the natural world. As the staff photographer at 89.3 The Current since 2010, he’s captured photos and video of the countless studio performances with bands that visit the station, as well as many live performances at venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In today’s episode, I get an inside perspective on what it means to be more than just a concert photographer, how Nate pushes himself on every assignment as a photography team of one, and how he creates work for himself that fires him up to get PAID by national clients to shoot that kind of work for them. You can find show notes with photos and links online at

So, without further ado, my behind the curtains conversation with 89.3 The Current Photographer, Nate Ryan.



QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments!


ACKERMAN + GRUBER // Dynamic Duo (#008)


In past episodes of Photo Forward, we’ve looked at a ton of different topics in visual storytelling — from creating a long term documentary project to how to pitch that work to editors in the wider world. And in all of those stories, it’s been typically centered around solo operators, freelancers, and individuals. Well today is breaking that mold ENTIRELY.

Crafting a successful freelance photography career is NO SMALL FEAT. From accounting to marketing to insurance and everything in between… It’s ALL on YOU. Now imagine adding an extra personal wrinkle: Your photography partner is also your LIFE PARTNER. That’s the story for today’s amazing guests – Jenn Ackermann and Tim Gruber.

Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber are a husband and wife team based in Minneapolis, MN. You will almost always find them working side by side, which has been the case since grad school. They enjoy the collaborative nature of being a tight-knit team and pushing each other to create images that sing. Their goal on every assignment is simple - evoke emotion and authenticity in every image they make to advertising, corporate and editorial clients. They pride themselves in being storytellers and work to create a narrative in every photo they take.

Their work has been honored by the Communication Arts Photography Annual and Advertising Annual 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019, American Photography 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 PDN Photo Annual, Review Santa Fe Center Project Competition, Photolucida’s Critical Mass, Inge Morath Award, Magnum Expression Award, POYi, and many others. Their most recent documentary film won an Emmy and they were named a McKnight Fellow and to PDN's 30 Photographers to Watch.

In today’s interview, Jenn, Tim and I tackled a ton on the nature of crafting AUTHENTIC visual storytelling work, getting through those “scary” times building a creative business, and how crucially important open communication is for growing a collaborative partnership.


QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY // What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments!

SHOW NOTES // Coming Soon!