We always get a little wanderlust at the start of a new year, whether it’s dreaming of our next big trip or just plotting an escape from gray winter days. Thank god for the internet. Lately we’ve been clicking over to Tiny Atlas Quarterly, a must read for anyone planning out their vacation days. The magazine blends stunning photography with illustration and narrative for a totally unique take on travel journalism. It began as a personal project in 2012 by photographer Emily Nathan, alongside a few colleagues, friends and her husband to tell the untold, personal stories of all the travel they did for work. “Think of it as the after party, once the commercial shoot wraps and, handily, the little black book of where to go and what to do if you find yourself there one day, too.” We caught up with Emily to find out more.
HOW DID TINY ATLAS GET STARTED? The magazine started online as a collaborative personal project of mine with a major dose of help from our design director, Liz Mullally and our UX designer (and my husband) Jake Huffman. We have all been working professionally in our fields for over 15 years and did this a bit on a whim. But, as soon as the first issue launched I started receiving emails from others who wanted to collaborate. I then realized that a lot of creatives would love to share work, and actually be assigned personal work and a larger project was born.
HOW IS YOUR APPROACH DIFFERENT THAN OTHER TRAVEL MAGAZINES? I think that the personal approach we take to travel and narrative is what is different about Tiny Atlas. We do this through series of lifestyle photos, which is also a newer approach in the traditional travel magazine space.
As a photographer who had worked for many years in both editorial and advertising, I felt that the best work I created, the work I put in my portfolio, was never the work that got out into the world. In travel editorial shoots, the expected images that I wasn’t interested in would be the ones that would get published. When you do advertising work, there is a lot of production talent behind a project, but the consumer viewer will never find out about the great places ad productions go to create their magic. Tiny Atlas was a way to put this all together.
WHAT ARE YOUR MOST MEMORABLE TRIPS? One of my early memorable trips was after my junior year of college, when I traveled around South America solo after a semester abroad in Santiago, Chile. Although I’d traveled prior to that with my family, hitchhiking and taking trains and buses across South America by myself was a totally different experience. Much more empowering.
Another early experience that was pretty amazing: When I was first starting out as a photographer and started going to NYC to cold call and get myself into meetings at places like Condé Nast headquarters I landed my first meeting with Gourmet magazine. The photo editor looked at my book I had been creating with her in mind for the past year, and then hired me during the meeting – which is pretty rare and amazing! – to do a food and travel story in Costa Rica. So for a week an assistant and I wandered around and created this travelogue about place and food (based on a loose brief).
The Sea of Cortez on a shoot with Apple was another very memorable trip. It was a big and very produced shoot, but I had worked with Apple so many times at that point that it played out in this really fun way that felt more like a personal work than a big job with a lot of people on set (which is what it was).
ARE THERE ANY CITIES OR COUNTRIES THAT YOU THINK WILL BE TRAVEL HOT SPOTS THIS YEAR? Our ethos at Tiny Atlas is that travel is a personal thing, and therefore the best travel spots will always be different for each person.
For me, a few spots that have been on my mind lately are: the far east of coastal Russia, Zanzibar, and the west coast of Sweden.
Photos (clockwise from top left): Emily Nathan, photographer; Helena Price, photographer, Julianna Goodman, illustration; Shelly Strazis, photographer; Wynn Myers, photographer. All appeared in Tiny Atlas Quarterly.