Nic Tanner is a photographer, journalist, and multimedia storyteller currently based out of New England. His work has appeared in a wide, international array of news and editorial publications including the in the pages of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, Time, Foreign Policy and NPR. With a background in international development, he also regularly works with NGOs, often to document unfolding crises, its aftermath, and the peace and rebuilding processes. In this regard, he has worked with The United Nations, The Danish Refugee Council, The Open Society Institute, PhotoPhilanthropy, and Magnum Foundation.
After college in 2008 Nic joined the Peace Corps and ended up living in a tiny village on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan teaching and training teachers. He used much of his down time during this experience to teach himself photography and hone his writing skills. After finishing his service in Kyrgyzstan, he enrolled in the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine to get more training, before moving back to Kyrgyzstan to begin freelancing for regional and international news agencies and NGOs.
Arriving just after ethnic conflicts had torn through the country and just before national elections, there was plenty of news to cover. He worked mostly stringing for wire services, freelancing for regional publication, and contracting his documentary services to NGOs. After the elections the AP placed several of his images on the wire and the several news organizations published them. In 2012 his work on the aftermath of ethnic cleansing and the ensuing refugee crisis in the region won an IREX president's award and the photo essay "In The Mahallahs" was recognized by PhotoPhilanthropy. In 2013 he was selected by the AP for a Global News Internship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This opportunity coincided with a series of historic events in Brazil, as unrest and unprecedented civil conflicts erupted all across the country on a daily basis. Along with his multimedia reporting efforts, the spot and feature news stories he produced with the bureau in Rio received recognition by the NPPA and CPOY, among other awarding organizations. He received second place in Spot News and Awards of Excellence for International Picture Story, General News and Group Multimedia Project from College Photographer and of the Year. CPOY also awarded Nic third place in the overall portfolio 2013 competition. He participated in the Eddie Adams Workshop, the New York Times Portfolio Review, and a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund Fellowship, part of Magnum Photo Agency, during which he continued to work on a long-term photographic project documenting masculinity in America.
He is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in Visual Art, and plans to teach photography, art, and ideas at a college somewhere along with continuing his photography practice and commitment to journalism and storytelling. His work presently seeks to create new and subvert old narratives; seeks to pose questions, not answer them; seeks to bring us back into a primordial state of wonder, wonder at the mystery of Being. And his work seeks new or forgotten methods for merging new technologies and diverse media with classic and digital photographic processes. It seeks unexpected modes of creating meaning, novel narrative formations, and unforeseen ways of making sense, by way of both image and text. Underlying this playful tendency to experiment is always Nic's instinctual grasp of the photographic medium's singular power and potential for creating new ways of seeing, thinking, and communicating. This potential is ontological in a fundamental sense--it is capable of transforming how we see, understand, and experience the world.
Nic's undergraduate interests led him in those years to complete coursework in international affairs, Spanish, Latin American history and culture, philosophy, writing creative nonfiction, anthropology, literature, and art. He holds an M.A. from Ohio University's School of Visual Communication, with a concentration in Documentary Photography and Multimedia Journalism. At present he is working on the final stages of his dissertation, which once defended will lead to a PhD in aesthetic philosophy and art theory from the Institute of Doctoral Studies in Visual Art.*
Nic has traveled, worked, or played on five continents, living in Chile, Spain, Central and Southeast Asia, South Africa and the US. He speaks fluent Spanish and English, advanced Portuguese and Kyrgyz, and beginner to intermediate Russian. Of all the areas he has based out of, Nic has returned most to Central Asia and South America, and he considers himself an expert in both these regions. His work currently casts an eye upon the political, cultural, economic, and environmental forces characterizing our worldly existence in 2023, as they continue to collide and create massive civil unrest, trends in human migrations, bloody international and internecine conflict, and renders the natural world in which we must live increasingly inhospitable.
It's a wild time to be alive, get in touch, let's see what images, what stories we might create to make sense of it all.
* (The PhD program's, https://www.idsva.edu/, foundational critique is of western culture's separation of thinking and art. The program is designed to reveal this split lying in the grounds of the western world, and then seeks to return the one to the other in our present and future lives by suggesting ways the artist and the philosopher can merge once more. The dissertation is a sustained questioning of the relationship between wonder and trauma in the history of thinking and art in the west. It claims that wonder in its primordial sense is a human birthright, questions concerning its whereabouts in our inner and collective lives at present, and puts forward possible modes of recovering it for ourselves today; for example, with photography. )