Photographer loses himself and his worries in a beautiful landscape
Emergency department registered nurse Nathaniel Gonzales landed his job at The Johns Hopkins Hospital before he landed in the United States.
He was more than 3,000 miles away from Baltimore at his home in the United Kingdom when he interviewed for the position by telephone in 2012. He began the job later that year, and it wasn’t the first time he indulged his passion and expertise at nursing on a different continent.
Philippine-born Gonzales earned a degree in nursing in 1995 from the Makati Medical Center School of Nursing. He worked in the Southeast Asian country for about six years before exploring career opportunities abroad. As a budding amateur photographer, he wanted a chance to see the world.
“I’ve always loved nature and traveling,” Gonzales said. “When I was young, I loved looking at National Geographic magazines. I knew I’d like to do that myself, capture the moment, like a beautiful sunrise or sunset. When I moved to England, I just started taking photos wherever I went.”
He lived in England for 11 years, dedicating many hours to both nursing and photography. He took advantage of his time away from work to visit Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and elsewhere, capturing the beautiful scenery each place had to offer. Since coming to the U.S., Gonzales has visited many of the country’s famous picturesque locations, most recently Yosemite National Park.
“My favorite subjects are landscapes because I feel more relaxed,” he said, adding that Venice and Rome are his favorite spots outside America. “When you’re at the location taking photos, you feel like you don’t have any worries. It’s therapy for me.”
Photography provides Gonzales some much-needed downtime from the fast-paced, high-stress atmosphere of the emergency department. While he had other career options—he considered electrical engineering—nursing fulfilled his desire to help people. He’s worked in almost all areas of nursing throughout his 20-year career and finds the emergency department the most rewarding.
“It can be really stressful because you don’t know what will be coming,” Gonzales said. “It’s an adrenaline rush in the moment of trying to help a critically ill or dying patient.”
While he’s comfortable interacting with patients in a hospital setting, he finds it more of a challenge interacting with living photo subjects. Besides approaching strangers to ask permission to photograph them, Gonzales also imagines their stories, listening to them and examining their facial expressions. Wildlife, though, may be his most difficult subject of all, requiring him to wait for hours to get a good shot and then react lightning-fast to capture it.
His talent has earned him numerous contest prizes, and he participated in six exhibitions while living in England, including two at hospitals. Gonzales hasn’t done any exhibitions in the U.S. but still sells his work on his website. He also has begun compiling a book of his best artwork, hopefully to publish within the next few years.
“When people appreciate your photos and say they’re inspired, it inspires me to take more,” Gonzales said. “When people want to display them in their home, that’s a bonus for me.”
More images at nathanielgonzales.com
All photos by Nathaniel Gonzales