Nancy Borowick

Hey friends! My name is Nancy Borowick, and I am a documentary photographer, storyteller, and as of late, teacher, author, and speaker.

I am originally from New York, but since early 2022 I am now a resident of the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

I have loved photography my entire life; big shout out to my amazing high school photo teacher Ms. Brady. I started working professionally in 2010 after graduating from the one-year certificate program at the International Center of Photography in New York City.

As an editorial photographer, I first focused on local New York stories, restaurants, portraits, and almost anything really; however, my passion was always in long-form documentary storytelling.

While I was not expecting to work on a super personal project just yet, life happens when it happens, and my work took a turn for the personal soon after school.

It was late 2012, and my parents were both suddenly in parallel treatments for stage four cancer. I didn’t know how to support them without completely falling apart, so I picked up my camera and decided to use it to tell their story, our story, as it was unfolding.

In doing this, I not only got to celebrate their lives while documenting their deaths, but I also got to share them and all of their wisdom and beauty with the world.

Today I continue to tell stories of life and loss, with a particular focus on motherhood. I became a mother in 2019 and am expecting a second child this Christmas Eve.

In 2017 my gear and my kit started to really change for the better. While I learned photography on black and white Tri-X film and a lovely old SLR camera in college, I moved into the DLSR realm with a Nikon D70.

Over time I stayed with the Nikon because that was what I knew, but I wasn’t happy with the weight of my gear or the quality of the digital images they produced.

While living on the Pacific Island of Guam, my friend Jun Michael Park came to visit on assignment with his Sony kit, and I was so smitten. It was compact and complete, and his images really stood out.

He loaned me his Sony Rx1R II, a cute little mirrorless with a prime 35mm, and I was instantly hooked.

The dynamic range dazzled me, and the size and capabilities of this little thing blew me out of the water. Within a year, despite my fears of going mirrorless and changing systems, I completely switched over to Sony and have never looked back.

I am not a techy person, but I just know what I like and what works for me.

While a little intimidated by all the amazing features of the Sony mirrorless technology, the learning curve was easier than expected, and now I am obsessed with all of it, especially its real-time eye focus for animals. I love to photograph my dogs.

My main body these days is the Sony Alpha 1 because it really has it all.  It’s lightweight, it’s fast, the stills are perfect, the video crisp, and the files are easy to work with.

These are qualities that are of particular interest to me as I often have my nonshooting hand/arm holding a kid on my hip. My lenses of choice are mainly the Sony 35mm f/1.4 and the Sony 85mm f/1.4 because, honestly, I am a prime snob. 

I have always been a minimalist in my gear because my background was photojournalism, and being portable was key for me. I am very comfortable with one camera body (2 if I have room) and one or two lenses.

As Robert Capa said, and I might be paraphrasing, “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough”.  Who needs a zoom lens if you have feet that can move you closer, right?

When I have room for more gear, I have other kits that I can bring along, but if I only have my:

  • Sony A1 and Sony A9II
  • Sony 35mm f/1.4 
  • Sony 85mm f/1.4, then I would feel confident in whatever I was shooting.

These all fit in my Manfrotto camera bag that I sling over my shoulder, and if I am headed on an airplane and want to bring a few more lenses, plus my laptop, I use the newest edition to the pack, my Think Tank Airport Navigator Roller Bag.

My other gear includes:

Sony Alpha 1 – this is my go-to body, as it does it all and keeps me light on my feet.
Sony a7s III – I use this one mainly for its video capabilities.
Sony a9II – I especially love this camera for its speed, so I often use it when I photograph dogs, which is something I love to do.
Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA – super versatile and sharp.
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 – beautiful bokeh
Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM – I recently started into Astrophotography, and this lens was the gateway.

Additional items include a pack of memory cards, batteries and their chargers, a neutral density filter, a Mophie portable charger for my phone, lens wipes, gum (gotta have fresh breath), and business cards with my details!

For post-production, I try to stick to the rules of the darkroom, that is, get the shots in camera. If I need to manage some contrast or exposure issues after the fact with my RAW images, I use Adobe Lightroom. It is my organizational and editing program of choice.

I always tell photographers that I wish I could tell my younger self to wear smarter footwear. This might seem obvious, but I lived in my flat-bottomed Converse, and now at thirty-seven, I have a lot of pain in my back because I chose fashion over function.

If you want to be in this business for the long term, take care of your body!

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