Since he was eight, he knew he wanted to be in the film industry. Approximately three years ago, Nash Hagen took a one-way flight to Hawaii to work a temp job in the lighting department on movie sets. It was during that time that he recognized that he could pursue his passion for travel photography and content creation full time, and he definitely hasn’t looked back.
Nash’s underwater photography, epic landscapes, editing trips and outdoor adventures are exceptional. His storytelling skills and entrepreneurial spirit shine through his work. Nash has completed several campaigns for Popular Pays, and we wanted to spend some time with him to learn more about his creative process.
Popular Pays: You currently have over 99k followers on TikTok. How did it all begin?
Nash Hagen: My best friend and I moved out to Hawaii for a temp job. About two years ago, he told me about a new platform called TikTok that I should check out. To be honest, I thought some of the stuff was really cheesy, but I thought, wow, maybe I can tell more of a story behind my Instagram content. That’s how it started, and now I post travel hacks, photo and video tips, how to use gear, get brand deals, and how to edit. I always want my feed to feel approachable, and I want people to feel like they can do what I’m doing with their life.
How does the environment impact your work?
Hagen: Environment 100% impacts your work. I have moved 13 separate times, and I’m only 25. Those experiences inspired me to be open to going to new locations. So many creators in Hawaii inspire me and we often bounce ideas off each other.
What’s your favorite thing about TikTok?
Hagen: I love the significant reach that platform offers, and you can connect with such random people. It’s still fairly easy to grow your account and I think of it as very experimental. I often use TikTok to test content prior to sharing on Instagram. On Instagram I feel like I personally have built into a specific niche and it’s harder to go out of that.
How is your TikTok content similar to that of your Instagram content? How is it different?
Hagen: For me, TikTok is more of a raw and behind-the-scenes version of Instagram. Instagram as a platform still seems pretty aspirational whereas TikTok is filled with practical content. I also love that on TikTok I can do a 60-second video and Reels only goes up to 30 seconds, so I have more time to tell a story.
Photos by @nashagen
How do you choose which brands to collaborate with?
Hagen: It has to be a match and something that people following me would appreciate. For example, with Popular Pays, I made a TikTok for Liist, a travel app! In the long run I want to build value for people and not just get a paycheck because at the end of the day that’s temporary. Long term I want to help people, and especially help people chase their passions.
For that campaign I didn’t even mention the brand until about 15-20 seconds in. Here I try to set up the problem and solution. I think the key is to create content that is engaging enough that viewers want to stick around for the entire message.
What would you tell someone looking to freelance?
Hagen: You have to be up for taking risks, willing to put in the work. Also, honestly, it takes time. It isn’t just a two-month thing, it often takes at least a year or two to even get started. Also, you likely are not going to make a living off solely brand deals. You must be creative in diversifying projects, while keeping your end goal in mind.
Would you define yourself as an influencer?
Hagen: Honestly, I think that there’s a stigma behind the word influencer and honestly, I hate that word. I think sometimes I think of someone trying to flex on someone or seem like they are better. If someone wants to use the word influencer, I challenge them to think, what are you influencing FOR? It’s a stigma I am actively trying to change and shift.
What makes you different?
Hagen: Everything I share has to be story based, and to me if there isn’t a story behind it, it’s pretty shallow. For example, I frequently shoot resorts, and my story may be of someone visiting that resort, and that’s the main character. It doesn’t have to be a flawless Instagram model, but literally could be anyone. That’s what inspires others to think that if they have that resort experience it could be them. That builds into the theme of what I do, I show people they can do something and that it’s totally possible.
In this Instagram age, many people see the results and think something looks easy. There’s so much more that goes into it. When someone looks at my Instagram they may think “this is highlight reel” but I try to make my content not just a highlight reel. I actually had to reach out to 10 people, get on calls, send brand kits, lead negotiations, etc. I am not ever trying to make it look easy, there’s a lot of work and you have to be willing to do it. Do you have a story you want to share that is worthwhile and what are you willing to do to get to that point?
Well, this interview certainly was worth sharing, and Nash left us with a lot to think about, and some inspiration along the way. Popular Pays is so grateful to work with creators like Nash, and we are humbled to share his story. We hope you feel inspired by his perspective and encourage you to follow along with his journey.