A lifestyle and travel magazine, Tiny Atlas Quarterly (TAQ) tells stories of place through professional photography and writing. TAQ‘s editorials journey into rare natural landscapes, and, in sharing these adventures, the magazine covers the gauntlet of cultural subjects, from design and style to food and outdoor sports. The trips featured in TAQ represent a wide range of experiences, following the magazine’s dream-like aesthetic to the ends of the earth.
TAQ began as a personal project for its founder and publisher, Emily Nathan. After years of working as a travel photographer and then a commercial photographer, Nathan wanted to celebrate wanderlust and her honest experiences of the less-traveled parts of the world. She had always been drawn to “travel and all its ephemera,” and, having grown up with a National Geographic atlas in her home, she especially loved the idea of redrawing the atlas from a personal perspective. Nathan’s atlas is tiny because she does not want for the world of travel photography to seem like a great unknown. Rather, she imagines an approachable, pocket-sized guide to earth’s wonderfully small places.
As the project developed, Nathan decided to share her passion with others. She reached out to Liz Mullally, whom she met ten years ago on a photoshoot for Apple, and the two collaborated to launch TAQ as a magazine. After publishing two issues online, Nathan and Mullally saw that their project was moving faster than anticipated and that their network of photographers, stylists, designers, and writers was expanding. There was the audience and the demand for a more tangible version of TAQ, so they started a Kickstarter campaign to support the magazine’s growth and publish an annual print edition as well. They wanted reshape the online content, taking their best work from the constantly shifting web and locking it into a form that readers can hold. Putting their vision onto paper has been more challenging than originally expected, as the print medium has more boundaries than the web. The first printed annual is set for release in March of 2014.
Throughout the magazine, the influence of place shines in that TAQ’s perspective is “very California.” The West Coast ideals of going local and going outside permeate their stories, even when the team is taken to distant places. It is part of the TAQ branding that, as Nathan says, “We love cities, but when we think of vacations…we just wanna get outside.” Often, outside means ocean. There is “a big love of surf” behind TAQ. Nathan and many of the photographers are surfers, so, when they feature the sport, such as in their British Columbia story, it is important to them to show actual surfers and real, interesting waves. In terms of photography, going outdoors is great for images in natural light and full color. Virtually all of the pictures in TAQ are naturally lit, and there are no black and white pictures in the magazine. TAQ‘s bright photographs look as though they have been lifted from a dream, and they belong together.
While the pictures have a certain unity, the magazine encourages collaborators to go out and bring back their own visions of what the TAQ aesthetic can look like. In terms of how the trips are documented, there is no standard shot list of hotel balconies and latte art. There’s no shot list at all. TAQ’s stories allow photographers to follow their instincts. They focus on capturing the holistic experience of moving through a new space. Without limiting the projects to a client’s vision, TAQ allows photographers to do the work they want to do and promotes the entire production team, acknowledging everyone who helped with each story.
TAQ’s dedication to artistic freedom and acknowledgement benefits casual readers as well. The magazine offers a glimpse into the lives of photographers in the off hours, sharing their work and their knowledge of the world’s nooks and crannies. The personal stories in TAQ provide an approachable guide to travel. Additionally, at the end of each editorial, the magazine lists the TAQ team’s “Resources” so that readers can visit the same places they admire in the magazine, staying, dining, and adventuring as seen in TAQ.
Providing an outlet for creatives and a resource for travelers, TAQ shares stories that help people define their own adventures and navigate the world’s off-the-map locales. The magazine has inspired many people, from its founders to its latest followers. As TAQ‘s readership continues to grow, the team will go on layering their work with meaningful collaboration as they follow the world’s dirt roads.