Updated: Mar 21, 2019

Photos by Nathan Pillow

Story by Veronica Perry

May 16, 2018

The above photos are Sacramento Hotspots, taken by local photographer Nathan Pillow featuring model Desireé Davis. The locations range from midtown bar, Low-Brau to the video game arcade at Country Club Lanes.

The Sacramento Spotlight had the pleasure of connecting with the skilled photographer and long-time Sacramento local, to speak about his work and this city.

The Spotlight: Please tell us about yourself! How did you get started in photography?

Pillow: Well to start off, my name is Nathan Pillow, I was born in Monterey, California and I have lived in Sacramento since the age of three.  I love Sacramento, I have been exploring it ever since I was a freshman in high school. I am 19 years old, and I started photography originally just for the art, and the aesthetic, but as I have grown older I fell in love with the way it can benefit my growth as a person, and others in the community. Aside from photography I have a lot I could tell you about, like what shaped me as a person, what helped me grow, and what tried to put me down, but that's another story for another time.

I think that photography is something that has benefited me as person. I have been in shallow times, but what I like most about photography, is that as I look back from when I first started, I can see growth. I can self-reflect easily with it, and I like to look at it as progress.

What inspired you?

What inspired me most about photography, the reason why I dove in so deep, is because you can use one simple moment, one one hundredth of a second, to tell a story. To tell something deep. I saw that it brings people together to create something bigger than themselves. It makes a moment in time you can't forget, especially as we are in the digital age, it literally will never leave you. You'll be reminded of it in social media, in timelines, on walls, and looking at other people.

To put it short , photographs are one of the best ways for me to continue looking forward.

What makes your work unique?

I think that my work is a mix of culture, perspective, and personality. What I offer to people is not what they are looking for, but what I am looking at. I think that people come to me because they want my perspective, they can go anywhere and get a picture taken, but when they work with me they create a memory.  No one can really take pictures in my perspective because it's solely mine. I have built it off of my experiences, trauma, studies, and adventures, and so much impulse I don't think you could ever quite recreate my moments.

In other words, I feel like my photography is more than a moment captured. I like to work with people a lot, and I like to connect, to share ideas, and invoke positive emotion in people. I like to make candid moments where you can feel what they feel just by looking at expression. I like to use people as a canvas when it comes to my personal projects.

Something that I think is invaluable about my work though is my dedication to serving others. I do everything I can to make sure others are feeling comfortable, safe, relaxed, and happy. I like to be convenient as possible for others, regardless of the situation.

In what ways does your work contribute/benefit the community?

My work is not something that directly benefits the community at the moment. I want it to impact the community and shape Sacramento, as a place of art, and storytelling. I think that my work can contribute to the community by telling stories, being personal, and restoring confidence in others. I want to use my work to stand up for minorities, I want to use it to raise awareness, and I want to use it to promote other people's passions.

Right now I am working on using it for business, and building clientele. Eventually when I have that built up I want to open my own studio, and I want to host all types of people, backgrounds, and artist there. I want to open up a place where people can use my photography to promote their image, their niche, their dreams, ultimately creating a new type of culture in Sacramento that feels open, and not secluded.

One direct way my photography benefits Sacramento as a whole right now is I am trying to work with local business and artist to collaborate. Even though I am just giving them images, these images have style, and they contribute to their growth. I see my photography being used to tell a story in the near future and I am open to it.

Aside from that I am giving back to the community by working with families, graduates, and friends. They get to take my photographs, and use them to write their own story. They use my photographs to remember moments in time that are precious.

What is your favorite quality about this city?

I think what I love most about Sacramento is the location, and the atmosphere. I think it's a good mix of artsy, conservative, and outgoing people. It feels really balanced here, and I like that people can be themselves here. Most importantly Sacramento is a metropolis that is conveniently in the middle of everything. You can go two hours to the beach, or two hours to the mountains, or two hours to the valley.

Being in the middle of everything makes for a lot of unique locations, interesting people, and impulse situations. It feels like there is endless opportunity for creativity in this city. It doesn't feel too cramped, or to spaced, like there's always room to grow.

Why Sacramento?

Aside from being a college student, I want to be apart of the growth in Sacramento. I want to be an aspiring artist, or photographer here, because I see this city becoming a hub for art, of all kinds. I do see a lot of clicks here, and stereotypical situations, and I want to break that cycle. I see a lot of tradition as far as photography, and a large part of that is due to the generational gap, personnel ego’s, and different experiences. I want to change that,  I want to work with free thinkers who care about people and treating others right, just as much as they care about themselves or their craft. I want to create a movement of young people setting a new standard.

I think that Sacramento has so much potential for me as a photographer, I think that we have a lot of hidden talent, that we have a lot to share with the art and entertainment industry here.

Ultimately, I want to create a brand for myself, and Sacramento is the best place to fail and try again, and again. My experience is that, if you treat it well, it will pay off here. If we enable the right people, and share with each other, we have so much potential to set a standard everywhere.

I love the people in this city, because here every one is fending for themselves, and it's that attitude that has inspired me to care less about what the people around me think. It's what's fueling my ambition to be different. To be a change, to create.

The people in Sacramento may look out for themselves at the end of the day, but we often come together for what we think is right, and we do it so well.

I love Sacramento.

Describe you perfect Saturday in Sacramento?

My perfect Saturday in Sacramento, is spending the morning exercising, then going out for coffee with a friend or a stranger, sharing ideas, taking pictures and enjoying the day outside. It’s exploring downtown, even the parts we have been through a million times. It’s meeting someone new, and collaborating with a local business. It's playing Cards Against Humanity with my closest friends, and getting a bite to eat at one of Sacramento's great taquerias, or restaurants.

My perfect Saturday is basically spent in Downtown Sacramento.

You can keep up with Nathan by following his instagram @_microphlame