Seth Nenstiel Photography – What’s New for 2016

First things First – Getting Healthy

I want to make very it clear — I am STILL photographing during this time and am having a blast doing so!

It’s no secret that my wrist has been giving me trouble. I have degenerated cartilage in my right wrist as shown by the last MRI in 2014. With that benchmark in place and new health insurance I am able to aggressively pursue healing for my wrist this year. I begin this month with an appointment to see a hand specialist. UPDATE: I saw a hand specialist and he feels that my wrist is stable but irritated by a small tear in the cartilage or a ligament. I go for an ultrasound in a few weeks to learn more and understand what can be done to holistically approach healing my wrist. The doctor feels it is an easy problem to address and heal!

I thank my clients, family, and friends so much for their ongoing support and encouragement through 2015 as I wrestled with how and what to photograph. It’s out of this encouragement that I am still photographing and making some changes to my offered disciplines.

What I’m Offering in 2016


Head Shots and Portraits for Business

I love working with people. It’s one of the things that makes my job fantastic. Out of new locations, great opportunities, and ability to be creative, the best thing by far is working with people.

Over the last few years I have be cultivating my approach to head shots and portraiture. This year one of the key disciplines I am focusing on is head shots and portraiture for business. My style brings a creative, jubilant feel to the head shot because the people you work with & companies you work for are not mindless drones! Now you can bring fresh, smiling faces to your website. During the session we laugh a lot and have fun, it really is effortless on your behalf–just show up and smile.

Whether you need a natural light look and feel or a studio consistency, I’ve got you covered. I bring the lighting setup to your location and we plan out the steps and timing to get everything perfect.

Contact me to feature the people that make your organization great.


Food and Restaurant

They say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Apparently I am not the exception, just ask my wife!

Throughout 2015 I had some AMAZING opportunities to photograph food and restaurants for publications and private organizations. I love working with chefs as creatives, building the photos, and perfecting the details. There is much to be said through the art of food and everyone knows consumers are buying with their eyes (and stomachs!).

In 2016 I want to take my food and restaurant photography to the next level. If you have a friend in this industry I would love to connect with them over a great cup of coffee — put me in touch! And share with them a few of my thoughts on the value in food and restaurant photography: Four Reasons Your Restaurnt Needs Great Photography


Commercial and Events

What a whirlwind of a year in commercial photography. I shot an rebranding for a regional company, three billboards on I-83, several magazine covers being published worldwide, and countless events. This year I am excited for more.

In 2016 I am open for commercial, advertising, and editorial work. As part of this discipline I get to work with Creative Directors and Marketing Directors to brainstorm and build art direction. I am looking forward to blowing boundaries away. Let’s get together and create!

Legacy Project – Films

This is something that Paige & I have been brainstorming for awhile. All I can say is stay tuned for an announcement about the Legacy Project — it is an outpouring of my heart to capture the value of the lives around us.

Here’s a quick preview logo made by the fantastic designer Jesus Rosario.


What I’m Saying Goodbye To in 2016


My apologies to everyone who has contacted me about photographing their wedding this year. I am no longer offering weddings — they are long days and to be honest I find that my wrist cannot maintain holding the camera for that amount of time without becoming irritated.

Please know, I treasure your moments and I want you to have the best opportunity to have them covered. I do have a selection of gifted photographers and vendors that I can recommend for your wedding if you reach out I can connect you with them!

Not Loving What I’m Photographing

This year I am going to be more selective. It’s not just about the work, it’s about the lifestyle. It means being at home with my wife, or at church on Sundays, or on a needed vacation. It means shifting to project based pricing, so I don’t have to watch the clock. It means working with people who believe what I believe. Finally it means harder work, more discipline, more progress, and being honest with how I feel!

In 2016 I want to love my work and grow more than ever!

Over & Out

I cannot thank you enough — dear reader, client, friend, family member, mentor, or bystander — for supporting my work and my life. You make this possible. Please keep in touch or get in touch. Let’s make 2016 great…

Let’s create together!

Chicago Black and White

A sequel to my post Chicago in Color, these photos are a little grittier and more true to my own form and function as a photographer. I want to document life. This is Chicago as I saw it, raw and uninhibited.

A thank you to my wife who was also photographing that day for capturing me documenting this man. His name was Napoleon and what caught my attention was his hair. When I asked him if I could make his photo he pulled out the hat that you see in the cover photo. We laughed and I told him I liked his hair, so he removed the hat and allowed me to photograph him again.

Keep on looking up & photographing.

If these have moved you in anyway, I’d love to hear from you.

That time I almost had a beer with Jeb Bush

The setting is the Iowa State Fair. Brightly colored stands line the streets and the smell of cartelized onions, Italian sausage, and cow manure fills the air. Excitement begins to bubble up as we pull into the field to park. Yes, my wife’s entire family and I (seven of us) are going to the Iowa State Fair. It’s an impulsive decision, but when in Iowa… right? So we file out of the car, garner our tickets, and head into the sprawl.

The fair is everything you’d hope it would be — greasy food, farm animals, tractors, people bumping into you, cabin-fever crafts, and carnival types everywhere. Want to see the worlds smallest horse? It’s here. The world’s largest Adirondack chair with people falling into it? Yep, it’s a sight to see!

We were just minding our business, walking along the Sky Glider, when there is a din of media piling into this pavilion. Guess who’s having a beer… Jeb Bush. So we wander over. Since this isn’t my first rodeo (or State Fair) I go into photographer mode and begin documenting the whole shindig.

Jeb’s talking with constituents and enjoying a brew at 10:30a. All in a days work. I’m snapping away, and manage to get a few words with Jeb on the coattails of my father-in-law. He seems like an okay guy.

And if you’re wondering, Jeb’s mom is doing a lot better. Turns out she was sick for a stint.

jeb bush

iowa state fair

jeb bush drinking beer

iowa fairgrounds jeb bush

So there you have it. I guess I really didn’t almost have a beer with him, but we hung out… for like a second.

All in a days work!

If you have an event that requires photo coverage, be sure to contact me!

Chicago in Color

From the moment we set foot in Chicago it felt like no where else we’d ever been. A cross between the hustle and bustle of New York City, the architecture of Pittsburg, and the charm of Washington D.C., Chicago is definitely unique. But can you even begin to describe it in the context of these three world-class cities? It brings it’s own flavor to the table — the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, Willis (Sears) Tower, Lincoln Park, and the Chicago river running through the heart of downtown. The weather changes at the drop of a hat — we were caught in the rain once or twice during our two day visit. And I’ve only now noticed how varied the images are; many stand in contrast to each other. There is a healthy underground walking area where it is quite dark; then, within a few blocks you can be on the water front of Lake Michigan.

I’m not sure what the future will bring for us, but Chicago is definitely a contender for our hearts — a cold wintered contender. Until then, here is a selection of photos we made while visiting Chicago.

See also the sequel to this post, Chicago in Black and White.

On Loss: The decisions we make with our elderly

Over the last year and a half I have been included in decision making processes that most American adults go through at twice my age — choosing care for the elderly and dying. It is a terrible position to be in. One wracked with guilt, shame, loneliness, and grief. It’s a separating position to be sure.

Choosing outside care ultimately means that you are not the one providing for your loved one. In some moments your decision might be played off as survival — the ability to provide for your immediate family or to live your life, in other moments the decision seems like selfishness. No matter what you do there is always an opportunity cost, a loss.

These choices are hard. I don’t have answers. But I have a view of loss that I would like to share with you in hopes that you can make different decisions.

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (1)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (2)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (4)

These pictures are of my grandmother Dorothy. She lost her husband around 2001 and a few years later she checked herself into an assisted care facility. She has been in assisted care for over 10 years at the time of writing this. Currently she is in a facility for Dementia & Alzheimer’s patients. Dorothy no longer remembers who I am, what year it is, or to my best guess much of anything beyond the 1980’s.

Everyday Dorothy receives care and is surrounded by people in the facility, but she is alone caught in her own world. So much so that when I show up with an ice cream for Dorothy to eat she doesn’t understand that it’s for her, or that there’s a spoon in it, or that I’m her grandson, or that she’s been alone for a week.

The situation is terrible. Her memory is growing faint, much of it lost altogether. But what’s worse is that I am losing the ability to be with her, talk with her, and know her. This is travesty.

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (5)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (6)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (7)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (8)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (9)

Before her decline, the facilities, and the diseases, Dorothy lived a full life. She is now 91. Let me share a little bit of her life that I know.

Dorothy was part of the ‘speeders’ in high school, graduating at just 16 years old. She lived through the Great Depression, raised two boys, and worked outside the home during a time when most women didn’t. Dorothy lived during much of the modern history that is now being taught in schools.

From a young Dorothy had pride in her alma matter — I found a football program where she religiously recorded the scores of the Friday games. She loved poetry and would often quote The Raven by Poe. She was married three times, divorced once, unfortunately surviving the other two. In more recent times, I would describe her demeanor as the Queen of England, she loved to be pampered. Dorothy also loves company — a socialite in the 1950’s — now because she is losing her memory, a bright smile will jump to her face if she recognizes she is receiving attention. She is now, in many ways, childlike.

As I write this what haunts me is that most of my last 20 years with her are forgotten. I have two paragraphs summing up her life. This is true loss.

So my encouragement to you is that when you choose care, you remain an active participant in your loved one’s life. Please question and document, write, record, photograph and share. Their lives visited are lessons learned. Their lives shared bring the fruits of compassion, love, empathy, and understanding.

I would love to hear stories of your loved ones, see pictures, and share in your moments. Feel free to shoot me an email at sethnenstiel [at] gmail [dot] com. Or get in touch by clicking here.

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (10)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (11)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (12)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (13)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (14)

Alzheimers Dementia Photo Documentary (15)

Finding Voice: Parkway

Coming off of the biggest month of my photographic career, I am struggling a little bit. One because I know I am going to wrap up some loose ends this week and head off into a week of vacation, and two, because I need to find my voice. I’ve been working very hard on a big commercial shoot, a wedding, and a few other sets of images. In a few minutes I will be running out the door to photograph some editorial photos for a startup magazine. Sometimes it’s great, but sometimes I want to get in touch with things that are a little bit more real.

Enter where I live. My wife & I moved into Parkway, a neighborhood in north York. We love the people, we love our apartment, and we really want to spend the next couple of years getting to know our neighbors and making the neighborhood great. But it’s not without its own problems. Just over a month and a half ago there was a shooting outside our building. Talk about raw and gritty. And if you would segment our neighborhood by a main thoroughfare, the half of the population that lives to the north of the dividing road, that’s 50%, is living in poverty.

It’s tough to maintain a steady pace of pushing your work out to agencies, systematizing, keeping your head down, making photo books, and seeking testimonials when this is the reality around you. People may ask, ‘Why do you live there? Can’t you afford somewhere better?’ The answer is yes, we could. We could buy a nice house in our area for the rent we pay. But it’s not about that. It’s about the people. It’s about striving to love, nurture, care for, and create into this world shaping it to a perfect image.

So as I sat here stressing the morning away, I realized that I didn’t know what I was interested in photographing. That I lost my voice. I used to love skateboarding, street style, the use of space both interior and exterior, and cooking. I could go in these routes and probably have a lot of fun — but today somehow they seem bland. And it occurred to me, I’ve been talking about this project for awhile. Photographing the people & places of Parkway. Perhaps I’ve lost my voice so I can share that of others.

As I am exploring this work, I would love to talk with you. If you’d like to get involved, be part of the conversation, or just follow the neighborhood, please drop me a line.