The unique creative photography and video work from Newry man Nathan Magee is certainly turning heads at present. Even Game of Thrones photographer Helen Sloan praised his incredible images when he recently presented her with a copy of his home produced book 'The Weird and Wonderful'.

"Codelia" - Nathan Magee

24 year old Nathan didn't have an interest in art until he was 17 but judging by what he has produced ever since the talent was always there.

Nathan Magee.
Nathan Magee.


A self proclaimed massive movie head, Nathan is a big fan of Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton and fond of the books too! "I set a New Years resolution to see how many books I could read in a year. I ended up finishing the Game of Thrones series, I read 52 books. I never read properly before that and I ended up getting really involved and seeping away from reality in a sense. Weirdly enough anything I did after that had to reflect back on what I'd read previously."

"A letter that never came" - Nathan Magee

"I'm a nerd for Lord of the Rings. It's been my bread and butter since I was born. In terms of books it would be Agatha Christie - I'm a big big fan of murder mystery. Alice in Wonderland and the spin offs - The interesting thing about the world in Alice in Wonderland is that there is so many other avenues to dive in to. Whenever you watch Alice in Wonderland, it's nice and it's family friendly but that's a weird place, that place is not normal. The amount of ideas you can accumulate from even a page of a book like that is just insane, and that's what I'd be heavily inspired by as well.

"Even growing up I was making wee snippets, wee skits with my friends and I suppose I didn't think of it as art, but now I realise anything is in a sense, if you are videoing yourself, doing funny jokes, trying to replicate a scene out of Goodfellas that's art!"

"Parley" - Nathan Magee.

He reckons his inspiration came out of nowhere in a sense "I actually did so many things before this. I would have done IT, website building, hairdressing for two years

College days

"I jumped into Level Three Creative Media in Newry Tech. The course required a camera and my mum picked me up a £70 D SLR and from that there... " 

Nathan had 'the best tutors' at the SRC. "Leonard Niblock is one of the most structured, most coherent, attentive people there. He's the reason why I kept going." He adds.

"I did Level Five with Leonard Niblock after Level Three and I dropped out of that course, just with pressure and didn't know what to do. Whenever I was doing Level 5 I wanted to go to Uni but didn't think that I would get the grade. Turns out I got the grades but I didn't apply for Uni that year."


Nathan ended up taking a year out, worked for Teleperformance and presently he is in his second year at Ulster University in Belfast doing Photography with Film.

There were many reasons he applied for University "I moved here and in my head I was like, how long can I ride this wave before getting a normal job"

Going to uni was about finding the creative community in Belfast and seeing who he could help and who could help him and just to figure out what it's all about. "Whenever I moved to Belfast I didn't know if there was an art scene, I didn't know if artists properly talked to each other, I was kind of just running in the wind."


Working with Photoshop a few years back the creative graphic design possibilities ended up sending him in that direction. "I remember coming across a random YouTube video, a guy from America called Alex Stoddard, a very incredible individual and he just wanted to take a photo of himself for Myspace and he ended up doing it every day, he'd add all these weird elements "

Nathan is also inspired by fine art photographer Brooke Shaden "What inspired me was that she actually studied photography and the course told her she shouldn't do it, and now she is sponsored by Sony and all sorts, for weird work, strange strange Rembrandt style light and work."

"There's lots of things that would influence my work. My work is solely melancholy, it's sad, it's very very sad and it's kind of weird as it's the opposite of my personality but I think that's a lovely balance for a person"

"To The Woods" - Nathan Magee

Ending up somewhere different visually

Nathan sees photography as  a method to visually escape "Because I got into books and all these different things, songs  and Lord of the Rings, I was like, why do they get to be there. Why do people have to have these massive budgets and talk to all these people. Why can't I take my camera, spend about two hours in the woods and see where I end up. What intrigued me was ending up somewhere different visually than where I actually was.

"I love cinema, cinematic tones, I love film but can't use film cameras very well so I emulate it. Grain to me is like 60's recording of music. It's got that noise, that human element to it, a not so perfect sound or image"

"I Still Weep For You" - Nathan Magee

It's all about 'Because you can'

"I'm a big fan of how Ireland looked back in the fifties, I'm a big fan of the period pieces, I love Gangs of New York. There's so many derelict buildings not being used. The world's a prop - everything is a prop. If you see a tree that's a prop, you can use that, you can use everything around you. If you've a sky, why can't you have that sky full of aeroplanes for the crack, because you can. It's all about 'because you can'. Hot air balloons, birds, aeroplanes, anything you see. I did a piece the other day. I had lighthouses, boats behind the subject - that really suit. I was listening to Hans Zimmer and I was like Dunkirk, yip that's Dunkirk, and I simulated the plane fight behind."

Self portraits 

Photographing himself is where Nathan really comes to life. It helps him express himself and of course it makes a good Facebook profile photo too. "I don't have the scariness of the other person, I'm jumping into water. Every model that comes - they usually have to jump into ice cold water, whether they know it or not. Like, I'll have the towel ready. Because I'll have ideas like ... if you jump into the freezing water imagine how cool it would be.

"That's what happened to a music video for my friend Jack. We were just shooting it on the beach and I was like, but imagine you got in the water, and the problem is that they know not to argue because most of my work is me in the water so I don't have sympathy for anyone else ... which is a problem (chuckles)"

Nathan would have struggled with social anxiety and making himself the subject of his images really helped him.  "It helped me experiment. I remember I used to get in trouble, I'd go into my ma's room, it had the best light that I found. I remember pouring a jar of honey over my head and got it all over the blankets, and I was thinking 'I can't fix this, I can't fix this!"

Nathan's preparation for personal work mode is completely different from client work in that usually zero preparation takes place "About 98% of the time I get inspired by the location. I go to the location, maybe sit there and I'll look around me and bring like, a jar, a big massive sunflower, something that I see.

"I'll be sitting there in the spot for about ten minutes going 'what'll I do, what am I doing, I'll look everywhere, like someone who's never known how to take a photo, I'll be really baffled. Then I'll take a portrait, see how it looks and then I'll envision in my head, as I look at it I'll think, I know I can add this here, I've got these stock images I've taken a while back, I can work that there. 

"I'm a big fan of Rembrandt, I did a self portrait the other day and I didn't have any soft lights near me. I believe that you can do anything in a shoot on a budget, anything at all" Nathan managed to put a yellow screen on his computer and he put on an old Captains war jacket and held the laptop to his face and got exactly the 'Rembrandt' look he was after.

365 Project

Embarking on a '365 Project' in 2016 where he would produce a photograph every day for a year was an incredible challenge  and something he threw himself into with relish "I've never had a goal in my life, a proper goal that I would deem something different. That was my problem I could never stick with things"

"Miss Swan" - Nathan Magee

"I remembering announcing on Flickr that I was doing a 365. The first one I ever took was me without a head and I was like that's amazing, that's weird. I can change these green leaves to purple, that's fantastic. I kept doing it.

He remembers Day 35, "I wrote on my Flickr, I'm out of ideas, I don't think I can do this any more, I don't know how people can do it.. Flickr was my space to give off.

"I always had a problem losing passion quickly. If I didn't have an idea I would set up a tripod at the Newry Canal, I would set up my camera and jump in and just lie and submerge myself in the water. You'd see all the joggers going past going what's he doing, what's he at, but I would make an idea about not having an idea"

Nathan learned a lot about himself from the project "It was the best and worst time of my life. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. It made me learn a lot of stuff outside of photography, obviously persevering. It learnt me to reflect on myself, it taught me a lot of different things. Doing one thing every day really made me come to terms with who I am, what I like. It made me understand what I had around me. It made me hyper-aware of Newry. It took me everywhere in Newry as well, which is strange because I never would have went to these places otherwise. It was massive for me. I got this lens and I had this inner burning that I wanted to create art and it was all because of this lens." 

"Love was a friend once" - Nathan Magee

Continuing Nathan added 365 came from the love of story telling and wanting to figure out if he could tell stories. "I didn't know anything about anything at this point and I wanted to make my life random. I wanted to change the routine of everything, because that became my routine. That routine had like a million things in it, between running through places, setting things on fire, jumping into water, getting caught naked once. I just wanted to completely change my life and think about what I could do and when I could do it, and I contemplated every day about giving up - every single day, every day after day 10 most definitely. Whenever the novelty of 365 wore off I contemplated giving up but couldn't bring myself to do it because of the feeling of where I could be in the future and I realised that's very important for someones learning."

He did take some days off in the project. "I remember being really down and I would purposely take two different ideas on the day before and I would have done that maybe 3 or 4 times because nobody is perfect, but that's what the 365 project teaches you. It teaches you that nobody can take the perfect photo all the time . You can come away from projects, feel bad but still do it again and do something better. It also made me realise that your last work, it can be incredible but you can always do better work, and it reminded me that if I do something a lot, the chances of regressing are so low."

Using his trusty 50mm 1.8 lens for virtually every project Nathan's brother Declan was often roped in to press the button and would jokingly claim he was the photographer "A lot of the 365 I would have done a lot of settings and if I didn't have my tripod I would have got my wee brother to hold the camera. I would have framed it and like - Do not move your hand, do not move anything, this is perfect! My brother always had it in his head, like, he was the photographer!"

Asking about his favourite image he quickly remembers two. The first was when he and his ex partner broke up and he photographed himself in a bath with red velvet 'seeping' out all around him. "It was really cheesy, it was called 'Love was a friend once' The other one is of two girls Laura McAleenan and Sarah Hanna in Warrenpoint. "Thats my favourite piece of all time, they are wearing two big wedding dresses and it's in Warrenpoint, the mountains are between them and they're in the water and they're just holding each other and it's all icy"

"The world is warm and I sleep" - Nathan Magee

A Human Pup

Nathan gets excited about the simplest things, it could be an interesting door that he can see the potential in or a certain light "I am like a human pup, I get excited about minimal things. It doesn't take much to attract my attention if you want to have a conversation with me. If you talked about the stripy socks you got yesterday, I'd be like, Thats Amazing!! And I'd mean it. I just like what people have to say." For his work he wants people to have a good look at it and not just a quick glance, "I want people to look and dissect it and relate to it in their own way. Usually when I'm editing I'm listening so something pretty sad, like the American Beauty theme tune or A Series of Unfortunate Events soundtrack. I'll have butterflies while I'm editing because - This looks like how I feel." 

"Dunkirk" - Nathan Magee

He sees Photography and video as one and the same. "I think if you can take photos and you know your framing, you can take video, Everything  carries over" Recently he worked with John Reavey, Director of a new short film about the murdered Reavey Brothers, doing stills promotion and a poster. At present he is working on a video for a song 'Murky Waters' from musician Sam Wickens which will be released 5 February and he's really pleased with it. "Because it's called Murky Waters, and I've done a lot of pictures in water in different ways and I was thinking, how can I make this special, make it a bit more mad." 

Nathan like many is noticing that absence really does make the heart grow fonder and he reflects "Funny thing is, the longer I've been in Belfast, the more I've grown to appreciate Newry" As to what the future holds he's not too concerned and is concentrating in the now, enjoying the journey both professionally and personally.

Check out his Instagram PAPERTREEEES If you want. to buy a copy of his book "The Weird and Wonderful" contact him via Instagram. 


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