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Nao Tharp

Professional Cinematographer

Nao Tharp - Wilde Ambassador Q&A

Nao Tharp is a professional cinematographer specialized in capturing imagery of our beautiful planet in a way human eyes cannot see. He was born to an American father and a Japanese mother in Tokyo, Japan where he spent the most of my adolescence and teenage life until he was 19. In 2002 he moved to California to pursue a creative profession. Since 2013, after his first daughter was born, he started his content licensing business, and now his two kids love tagging along with him on his shooting assignments.

Q: If you had to choose 3 life essentials, what would they be?

A: Camera gears, music instruments, and my own water bottle!

Q: How did you get started with your career as a professional cinematographer?

A: I became a fashion model at age 14 in Tokyo, and photography has always been around me ever since. Then I picked up the guitar to pursue a career in the music industry which brought me to the States to study digital media arts at California State University. Over the course of my creative life in California I became heavily influenced by the great outdoors and expansive wilderness of the American Southwest and became passionate about capturing its beauty in order to have the visual orchestrate along with my soundscape. It has become my lifework to create inspiring, evocative content to connect people’s consciousness to the natural world.

Q: What is it you love about cinematography? What keeps you coming back to it everyday?

A: One of my primary approaches in landscape photography is a technique called timelapse. Timelapse cinematography compresses perspective of time and light and allows us to visualize dynamic variations in a scenery, for example, changing colors of sunset/sunrise skies and drifting nebulas at the core of the Milky Way galaxy. In dealing with ever changing natural environments, I always find it interesting that no two conditions are ever the same, even at the same exact location. From galactic/planetary alignment to subtle moisture in the stratus clouds, every element contributes to an unique scenery no matter how many times you go back to the location. That is one of the reasons I tirelessly head out for “the shot.”

Q: What keeps you hungry? What drives you to keep trying to up your shoot?

A: Knowing that there’s a beautiful place out there that nobody has yet to see in person.

Q: What was the most challenging moment in your career?

A: The beginning of my career. A lot goes into creating a compelling timelapse and it takes a great amount of learning the hard way, trial and error just to nail a shot until you have failed enough times to the point where you develop confidence and gain control over your gear and the environment.

Q: What is your favorite/most fulfilling moment you had in your career?

A: Every time I’m in the field. Every fresh capture is my favorite one and I try hard to feel this way so I can keep my .

Another impactful moment was when I got to work on production of “Cabinland Season 2” with Sara Underwood and Jacob Witzling who are building beautiful cabins straight out of a fairytale in the Olympic rainforest in Washington State. It was very challenging to shoot in the temperate rainforest as camera equipment doesn't do well in a constant drizzle, high humidity and low temperature. However I was prepared enough to pull off all the speciality shots such as aerial hyperlapses and long exposure 3 axis motion controlled timelapses. The look on Sara and Jacob’s faces after seeing the resulting images was pure joy and it definitely became a strong driving force towards creativity. You can check out the series here:

Q: What is your biggest dream that you have yet to accomplish?

A: Shooting my feature film about wilderness in the West while living and working in a custom built mobile production studio on wheels.

Q: How important is nutrition/healthy diet in your life?

A: It is very crucial that I stay fit and healthy because of the nature of my work which involves heavy lifting and hiking in undeveloped terrain. Especially after I threw my back out in February, I have been conscious about my diet. I do not like leaving gears home because of weight limitation so any extra body weight needs to go before my gears.

Q: How does Wilde fit into your nutrition program?

A: Wildie is perfect for my diet because I am limiting carbohydrate intake by holding off bread, noodles, rice but I just love snacking especially for long driving. I used to gain weight just from traveling and munching, but with Wilde chips I feel far less guilty compared to traditional snacks such as potato chips and candies.

Q: Why Wilde Chips as opposed to other chip brands?

A: Wilde Chips offers one of a kind snacking option for wellness oriented people who still want to snack healthily. They are so tasteful and crispy and I’m extremely happy about the fact that my kids LOVE them and that I don’t have to yell at them to stop eating before they empty the whole bag!

Q: How did you first hear about Wilde Chips? What did you think about them before and after you tried them?

A: Through my adventure buddy. He said his kids loved them and that was the catch. My initial thought before actually trying them out was that it could resemble something like turkey bacon, pork jerkies or even soy meat. I was blown away by how crispy and savory it was when I tried them for the first time!

Q: At Wilde, our mantra is ‘Be Bold. Live Wilde-ly”. What does live Wilde-ly mean to you?

A: Being outdoors. Staying creative. And at the same time, staying healthy.

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