Sit down with Nick Sebastian and you will immediately discover he is one of those people you want to get to know. How he thinks, what he sees and find out why he loves living in Emeryville and photographing his furry friends (Egrets and Herons) in his neighborhood down in the Emeryville Marina.
It started in D.C. While working as a federal government investigator, Nick began to pursue his dream of becoming a photojournalist He started out by-loading his Contax RTS with film and stalking the often dangerous streets of inner-city, Washington, D.C., where he was living at the time. He went out at all hours, in all kinds of weather – the more inclement, the better, shooting at the insistence of some indefinable impulse, he says.
First commercial sale: Through persistence, passion and fate, Nick was fortunate to meet an interior designer of a 500-room hotel under construction across the street from his federal office building. He showed her his small portfolio of quirky, black and white photos of scenes of Washington, D.C., and she asked him to supply her with 1,000, sepia-toned, 20” x 24” photographs.
He then left his government job and went on a photo safari to Greece, Turkey and Israel. According to Nick, “When I returned two months later, friends who looked at my slides urged me to show them to the photo editor of the National Geographic magazine—they were that good, they said.” He was not so sure. At this juncture he did have a meeting with National Geographic, but was told to come back after ten years of shooting.
Living in Washington, D.C., provided Nick with a daily opportunity to photograph newsworthy events and present his photos to numerous publishing sources. He slowly developed a clientele, whose photographic needs matched his photojournalism services. He became affiliated with photo agencies, local and international, and was published in newspapers and magazines.
The White House. Nick gained daily access to the White House, Capitol Hill and the right to cross police and security lines (allowed to only credentialed photojournalists). One particular event that he was determined to photograph was the dedication of the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial, “The Wall.”
On the day of its dedication, November 11, 1982, he was lost in the crowd of hundreds of thousands of viewers and what seemed like an equal number of professional photojournalists. A Viet Nam era veteran himself, he found himself in a powerful vortex of emotions, photographing Viet Nam veterans, families and friends as they searched for the names of their comrades, sons and daughters, husbands, brothers and sisters.
National Geographic. Two years later, in 1984, the National Geographic decided to publish a story about the Wall. Nick was asked to submit his photos for consideration.
A few months later, a National Geographic photography editor called and told Nick that of the thousands of images taken at the Wall and submitted to him for review, he selected one of Nick’s for the cover of the magazine to illustrate the article, and another, for an interior, double page spread. It was the highlight of his photojournalism journey.
Emeryville. So in his journey, how did Nick get to Emeryville? He was introduced to the Pacific Ocean in 1969, when his father was stationed at Fort Ord and vowed to find a way to live in California one day. After 24 years in D.C., a job opportunity opened up in the San Francisco Bay Area and in 1993 he was off to California. Why Emeryville? “Friends introduced me to life at Watergate in Emeryville, and I knew I had found home – the beauty and serenity of the San Francisco Bay, easy transportation throughout the area and the nearness of Napa, Sonoma and Yosemite. It’s like resort living in the midst of multi-cultural society, economic dynamism, recreational activities, 365 days a year due to great weather coupled with reconnection with family and friends here–a combination not equaled anywhere else in the U.S.”
Nick has a gallery of photos on the City of Emeryville website and on Worldwide Communications.