Nathan Wirth, who was born and raised in San Francisco, is a self-learned photographer that uses a variety of techniques— including long exposure and infrared— to express his unending wonder of the fundamental fact of existence by attempting to focus on the silence that we can sometimes perceive in between the incessant waves of sound that often dominate our perceptions of the world. Nathan earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English Literature from San Francisco State University and brings a deep appreciation of poetry to his explorations of place (especially the sea). Poets such as George Oppen, Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, James Schuyler, Lorine Niedecker, and George Mackay Brown have played a fundamental role in shaping his attention to the things and places that he photographs. Often returning to the same locations many times, Nathan seeks to explore the silence and the sublimity of those places. In addition to poetry, Nathan is profoundly influenced by the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, and Camille Pissarro and the photography of Michael Kenna, Edward Weston, and Wright Morris.
Recently, Nathan has been studying and integrating into his work Japanese traditions of Zen, rock gardens, and calligraphy– as well as the transience, impermanence, and imperfections of wabi-sabi. Nathan’s studies of calligraphy and Zen writings have led him to the practice of trying to achieve, while working on his photography, a mind of no-mind (mu-shin no shin), a mind not preoccupied with emotions and thought, one that can, as freely as possible, simply create.
Nathan also curates and edits, slices of silence, an online place to read and view conversations about photography.