Photographer/videographer Cassie Tackett (a.k.a Northern Native) on how she got started in the industry, her must-have gear and her ideal Detroit weekend
By Perry Haselden
Featured photo via @northernnativemi
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background.
I was born and raised Downriver, so yes, I am a river rat. I recently moved to Ferndale with my golden retriever, Potter. I have been doing photography full-time for 5 years now. I run Northern Native and photograph weddings, lifestyle and portraits as well as cinematography. I love to do hybrid films that incorporate real super 8 footage.
2. How did you get started in the industry?
I think we all start out as hobbyists? I genuinely just used to do it for fun, and over time I had friends and family ask me to document their special events and it kind of just happened to me. I have always loved photography/cine and desired to be a business owner, so it worked out. Obviously as time has gone on, I know I was meant for this.
3. What is your favorite subject to photograph?
This is a tough one. I love working with other creatives. Getting to photograph them or their process is a joy!
4. What is your favorite piece of equipment to use to create photos/videos?
I am quite fond of my series of Prime lenses. I use the 35 & 85mm from the Sigma Art series and I use a Nikon 58mm.
5. What other Detroit creatives do you enjoy collaborating with?
6. Can you share some of your career highlights or moments you are most proud of thus far?
Any time I book a wedding out of state that is super rad. Having someone across the country choose you out of the huge pool of painfully talented people is such a great compliment. Other than that, I’ve had a few magazine features, which is also such a great compliment.
7. What was your biggest mistake or failure and what did you learn from it?
Thankfully I cannot pinpoint something so large that this is easy to answer! Honestly, I think for me it was not trusting myself/believing in myself for far too long. Toward the beginning of my career — and even in life — I felt like I didn’t deserve certain things just because of insecurity. Whether that was because of my looks or self-doubt, I wasted too much time not leaning into my natural instincts.
8. How do you find balance between work and your personal life?
Learning how to say “no” was a huge factor. Working with people who you connect with is so important also. When work isn’t fun anymore you have to switch it up. Enjoying what you do but also having a personal life is so important. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re in love with it. I think this is something I am still learning to balance, but letting the dust settle and constantly meditating on what you want is helpful.
9. If you didn’t get into photography/videography, what would you be doing instead?
I honestly don’t know. I would definitely still be an entrepreneur of some sort — perhaps a birthday clown?
Now onto some fun…
10. What was your first job growing up?
Other than my dad making us do landscaping to “build character,” I worked at the jewelry counter at Macy’s.
11. What’s currently on your playlist?
The song “Two Steps” by Maths Times Joy, Penny and Sparrow, Wilder Woods and as always, anything from “22, A Million” by Bon Iver.
12. What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
I mostly watched movies unsupervised as a kid, so I attribute much of my chaotic personality to Jim Carrey. I was constantly rotating “The Mask,” “Liar Liar” and “Dumb & Dumber.”
13. Three things you can’t live without?
I want to take this literally and say food, water and oxygen, but I will give the more dramatic answer: my golden retriever, Potter, a banging Spotify playlist and Jeep drives with the top down. I would honestly consider putting my head in an oven without these things (too much?).
14. Dream vacation destination?
Anywhere warm! However, I definitely daydream about a good and thorough UK trip daily.
Local love questions…
15. Your current favorite local spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
16. Your favorite place to shop locally in Metro Detroit?
17. Your go-to for a good cup of coffee?
18. Favorite thing to do on a weekend in Metro Detroit?
Pre-Covid it was stopping by Red Hook, Eastern Market. Checking out some local shops, a good lunch and obviously getting a treat from Sister Pie. Also seeing a movie, but I don’t remember what that is like anymore!
19. What do you love about Detroit?
Goodness. Our resilience, the constant collaboration, invention. I love everything about this city.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned through 2020 was to enjoy where you’re at. Quit living too far in the future and letting your days pass you by. Living intentionally and for today — that’s the current focus.
This interview has been edited for clarity and tone.