New Richmond grad finds success as wildlife videographer
Every year, college students receive endless suggestions for landing a job post-graduation — and skipping finals isn’t one of them. But that’s exactly what Nolan Swinghamer did during his last semester at UW-Stevens Point to nab his first outdoor videography gig, and he’s been working his dream job since.
“My professors were hunters, so they told me to go for it,” Swinghamer said. “That first trip helped me realize I could spend time outside doing what I love, and I could make money doing it.”
A 2006 graduate of New Richmond High School, Swinghamer started his own business, Swinghamer Outdoor Productions, just before he graduated college in 2010. Since then, he has grown from accepting sporadic assignments to signing regular contracts with big-name companies.
Although Swinghamer mainly field produces hunting and fishing shows for the Sportsman Channel, he has captured much more than walleye and white-tailed deer. His job has led him all over the globe, from Finland and England to Croatia and Namibia, and his portfolio boasts unique animals like Alaskan moose, European wildcat and Russian wild boar.
Even though Swinghamer has been in the path of considerably dangerous game, he said he hasn’t had any close calls — yet.
“Normal people might argue with that, but I travel with very ethical shooters,” he said. “I have confidence that when it’s time for them to pull the trigger, it’s game over.”
Of all the places he has traveled, Swinghamer said Argentina was his favorite. Between close-up encounters with red stag and daily two-hour siestas, the country’s wildlife and culture made it feel like a home away from home.
But Swinghamer is quick to point out that traversing the globe is not without challenges.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to travel,” Swinghamer said. “But the hardest thing about this job is being away from friends and family.”
Indeed, Swinghamer is on the road for 220 days a year and hardly ever shoots locally. That makes it especially hard for him to be home for his favorite time of year: deer season.
“This fall, I’ve been able to maneuver my schedule so that I have off for the peak of the rut,” Swinghamer said. “I’ll get to be here for the first time in four years. So even when I’m on vacation from hunting, I’m hunting.”
Though Swinghamer does personal shoots for friends and family when he’s home and covers the occasional wedding, wildlife videography is clearly where his passion lies.
“I’ve always had a love for the outdoors, and my dad had a good camera when I was young,” he said. “I would take it with when we went hiking and shoot photos of waterfalls. It seemed like a natural fit.”
He began to film his own hunting escapades when he was 15 years old, working his way up from basic gear to professional equipment. Although he now participates in multi-camera shoots with complex videography, Swinghamer has particularly enjoyed his latest project: the Sportsman Channel’s “Uncaged,” which he produces solo. The show features Matt Hughes, a nine-time UFC Welterweight champion pursuing big game all over the world.
“It’s just me and him, and I’m in charge of creating the whole show,” Swinghamer said. “It’s really fun to have the authority to produce the final package.”
When it comes to the future, Swinghamer has plans to scale back his traveling and settle into a production house — preferably his own — so that he can be with his family.
“It’s a step-by-step process, just like it has been up to this point,” he said. “If I want to step into a producer role and have a full-blown company, I’m gonna have to keep adapting and keep looking for open doors.”