The life motto of New York based photographer Mikaela Gauer is to pack light. She grew up in Vancouver around her father’s old Nikons and family photo slideshows of their vacations. Having taken Semester at Sea during university, and working in the creative industry of New York for over 8 years, Mikaela is a self-taught photographer who now captures beautiful design, people and culture all over the globe. We talked to Mikaela about her winter trip to Nashville in January during a massive snowstorm.

Hello Mikaela, tell me about your first memory with photography?

When I was a kid, my dad had an old Nikon camera that he would use to document our family trips. After a holiday, we would watch slideshows of the trip together as a family. I remember being very fascinated by that, as I grew up with limited exposure to television and movies. I was always playing outside in nature, exploring and roaming around with friends. I became interested in photography as a way to see and experience the world, and to keep memories alive.


How is that process of being a self taught photographer?

Since I moved to New York, I have worked in creative industries – as a magazine editor, as well as a producer of film and photography. Working with a few influential photographers gave me insight into both the technical aspect of photography but more importantly, how each individual has to develop their own vision and process. Ultimately, I’ve learned by constantly producing work and then evaluating it, so that I can always improve myself.

What is in your backpack when you travel?

Clothes and cameras! I don’t really like to take a lot with me. I’m going to New Zealand in a few weeks, so I’ll bring 3 or 4 cameras – a Mamiya 7 medium format camera, a Fujifilm X-Pro1 digital camera and then two smaller film cameras. And then the essentials – underwear, t-shirts and pants – and I usually have a magazine or a book to read on the plane.

Tell me about your experience of Nashville in winter.

It was a friend’s 30th birthday and that weekend there was a massive snowstorm. Every single flight was cancelled except for the one I was on. When we arrived, nearly all the roads were closed. So we rented an Escalade, drove around, and took pictures.

What took you to all those restaurants and coffee shops?

One of our top priorities in Nashville was sampling all the good Southern food. Even though many of the shops and restaurants were closed, we found a few great coffee shops and restaurants. I tend to document everything, and so naturally I took pictures of all the places we found along the way.


Food is always a good plan. So can you give us any tips on getting a good food shot while on the road?

A few years ago, I went to the Charleston Food and Wine Festival and the Food Editor of Saveur Magazine was shooting a food story at a famous fried chicken restaurant. As I ate, I watched him set-up, stage, light, and shoot for hours. I remember admiring his extreme attention to detail. When I shoot food, I don’t operate like a typical food photographer. I use natural light and incorporate elements of the environment into the image, in order to translate my own personal experience of the dish. Shooting at a low aperture to prioritize depth of field helps to enhance particular textures or colors as well.

How was your experience with music there?

I went to an incredible Bluegrass jam session one night at The Station Inn. As someone who also makes music, I enjoy observing musicians in their creative process, collaborating with one another and creating something beautiful so spontaneously. There were about 20 people with all sorts of instruments that formed a circle in the middle of the bar, just jamming out. It was awesome.

Article by: Laura Rodriguez Castro.