Street Photographer Approaches Cops and Firefighters for Striking Photos

Nolan Regan photography

A street photographer has won a legion of fans for his impromptu portraits of cops, firefighters, medics, and anyone in uniform who “works for the public good.”

Nolan Regan boasts over 300,000 followers across Instagram and TikTok where he documents approaching uniform service folks and asking them if he can take their photo. Regan tells PetaPixel that he started out photographing random people in New York City after being inspired by his friend David Guerrero (@dgphotofolic).

“At first it didn’t get much traction,” he explains. “But I kept doing it and kept doing it and one of my family members who is former NYPD mentioned that I should do a police officer.”

Regan, who just turned 20 years old, took his family member’s advice and the post received half a million views. Afterward, he realized “Hey, you know this is actually a really good way to shine a light on the badge and to humanize the badge.”

Portrait of traffic officer

Portrait of NYPD officer

Portrait of NYPD officer

Regan’s family has a history with the NYPD: his aunt worked in Queens and so did his granddad. “My other grandpa was NY State Police in upstate New York,” he adds. “My family history goes back to 1904 in the NYPD.”

However, Regan doesn’t just photograph cops. He’s captured portraits of train conductors, pilots, medical professionals, and more in New York City and other locations across the United States.

Portrait of firefighter

Taken during a detective's funeral.
Taken during a detective’s funeral.

Portrait of an NYPD officer

“The general reaction to my requests in the beginning was a bit iffy,” he explains. “You usually don’t see a guy with a camera going up to law enforcement for something good, so until I was known more it was very hard to get them to say yes. Back then it was 20% yes and 80% no, now it’s more like 90% yes and 10% no.”

Taken during a detective's funeral.

Portrait of a police officer

Taken during a detective's funeral.

Taken during a detective's funeral.

Regan says that now he is established the reaction to his work has been positive and he is followed by the families of law enforcement officers.

He uses a Canon R5 with an RF 85mm 1.2 DS lens attached which he says is “amazing for portraits and great creamy bokeh.” He uses an Insta360 X3 for his social media videos.

More of Regan’s work can be found on his website, Instagram, and TikTok.

Image credits: Photographs by Nolan Regan.