Not much beats seeing a photo of yourself doing what you love being featured on the homepage of a major supplier’s website (plus sent to 1000’s via email).

Robert Nissenbaum featured kayaking in Tacoma on the homepage of the NRS website 2-23-2020

The opportunity 

I am part of a few local and global kayaking groups on Facebook. In mid October, I caught this post in one of those groups:

NRS photoshoot Facebook post 10-14-2019

Howdy Folks – I’m a Seattle-Based photographer and sea kayaker who is looking to get out on the water with some new paddlers!

I’m actually doing an outdoor lifestyle shoot this coming weekend, Saturday, Sunday, Monday 10/19 – 10/21 where we’ll be doing some Rec Kayak + Sea Kayaking around the Seattle area.

I’m looking for a broad range of folks who are available to go paddling while we shoot photos in some new apparel, life jackets and splash jackets for a reputable outdoor gear brand. These are more of a shoot than a paddling trip, but the shoots are low stress and the goal is to have a bunch of fun, not take ourselves too seriously and make great imagery.

Ages: 18+ I’m specifically looking for a broad range of ages, so if you’re 40-110 years old, I’m especially looking at you! Friends and couples and great, because we always get great chemistry, but solo paddlers would be great too. We’ve got a ton of flexibility on time, so you don’t need to sign on for a full day- We’re shooting Sunrise, Midday, Sunset at different locations. From Alki, up to Kenmore.

Get at me if you’d be a good fit, or know someone who would!”


Without knowing any details and who the brand was, I added my name to the list. For me it was an opportunity to get on the water. Anything more would be a bonus (though I was still hedging a sponsorship angle for the H20 Project). 

Jacob (the photographer) reached out to me the day after his post. After a quick exchange which covered a few of my sponsors, my skills, sending a few pics, and what he was looking for, I found out the brand was NRS.   

The photoshoot was set. It was now a matter of ironing out the details as to where and when.

The back story

Once I learned who the photoshoot was for and how the photos would be used, it dawned on me (and I shared it with Jacob) on how perfect a fit this was for me. I have a sort of a crush on NRS (being a bit of a gear whore).

Back in 2016 I was looking for a new PFD. I wanted something basic but allowing for plenty of movement on the water – and on a budget. I settled on the NRS Ninja (I still have it for dragon boating and as a loaner for others). 

Since that purchase, I have amassed a collection of NRS gear – more than all the other brands I own combined (list at the end of the post and on Pinterest)

Even now, when I need new gear, they are the brand I look to first. 

Fame and fortune!

The morning started cold! I was meeting Jacob and Neil at Titlow Beach at 0715. After discussing the plan, I dressed in the gear they provided and helped carry the P&H Scorpio (a new one for me to paddle, and yes, it was fun to paddle) to the edge of the beach for the obligatory ‘carrying the boat shots’. 

I loved seeing Jacob’s thought process. He wasn’t merely getting images. He was creating a story, a scene in which NRS gear was the star, not me.

Foot braces adjusted I climbed into the cockpit and was ‘launched’. I’d normally ‘wet launch’ but not wearing full dry gear, it would have left me wet and cold. So, first class service – assisted launch! I could get used to that.

I spent a bit of time navigating the pilings to get a feel for the boat and to give Jacob some time to set up for shots and a bit of options to use later.

Robert Nissenbaum in a P&H Scorpio in the pilings off Titlow Beach Tacoma for an NRS photshoot

Shooting from the water

Neil and Jacob headed out in a sit on top to get photos further off the beach. The on-water shooting also helped bring the Tacoma Narrows bridge more into play along with the quintessential PNW shoreline to use as a backdrop. The weather was also perfectly PNW – some low morning fog, still water, serene. 

After more shooting we beached (loved the assisted landing too!) to get some product focused shots. I suddenly felt a bit out of place. On the water, I was kayaking. Now I was a model with lots of ‘gear on and gear off’ directions. By the end, we were swapping stories and having fun.

After a bit more time on the water and then it was back to being your average 50 year old kayaker – albeit a bit more famous (at least in my own mind) now. 

All in all, it was a pretty perfect morning on the water, even if there is no fame or fortune. And I can cross professional model off the list of things I have done and never intended to do.

Robert Nissenbaum on an NRS photshoot featuring the P&H Scorpio south of the Tacoma Narrows bridge

Some Footnotes

  • This is not an endorsement for NRS and I have no deals, affiliate or otherwise, with them at this time. While I do recommend their gear and clearly own quite a bit, this article is still just a story with NRS as my leading character. 
  • I was compensated for my time.
  • The images used here and on related social media posts are used with permission. Regardless of my arrangement to use them, they are still the property of NRS.

My NRS gear collection

Aside from my original Ninja I currently own:

  • Freefall dry pants
  • Flux dry top
  • 2 cVest Mesh Back PFDs
  • 2 pairs of (now discontinued Comm-3 wetshoes
  • 1 pair of Kinetic water shoes
  • 2 Pilot knives (1 titanium and one stainless steel).
  • Gloves!! Maverick, Axiom, and Boater’s
  • Wet socks
  • 2 sets of straps (9’ and 12’)

I do have my eyes are some additional gear so feel free to contribute to my obsession and I hope to see you on the water.