Nolan Regan captures the heroes behind the badge

“Excuse me, officer?”

In the bustling streets of New York City, this phrase often signals a moment of urgency or distress. However, for this photographer, it carries a distinct and unconventional purpose.

Meet Nolan Regan, a 20-year-old NYC-based photographer passionate about telling the untold stories of first responders. With almost 300 thousand followers on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube combined, Regan hopes to serve the community through his lens. 

Nolan Regan (Courtesy of Nolan Regan)

Regan’s journey began by taking photos of tourists in NYC. A chance encounter with a police officer in Times Square that amassed half a million views on social media was where Regan grasped the impact of his photography. 

“I realized this was a great way to spread positivity in the community,” he told amNewYork. “You only really see [police officers] when something bad happens.”

On a normal day, Regan roams the city, camera in hand, looking for any uniformed officers to capture. He approaches his target, asks to take their photos, and produces high-quality portraits in under five minutes. 

Photos by Nolan Regan

“When I first approach cops, they’re iffy about taking photos. You wouldn’t really see a guy with a camera taking photos of cops in NYC,” Regan said. “Once they see the final result, they’re really happy with it. It’s a good thing to send to their families.”

Regan has personal ties to law enforcement, making his journey that much more significant. Two of his grandparents and his aunt are former police officers. He says his family “loves” his content and the impact it has made in the law enforcement community. 

Recalling the early days of his career, Regan says his photos “were really bad.” 

Photos by Nolan Regan

“Two years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing,” he continued. “When I kept doing it, it was great practice.”  

Today, Regan is inundated with requests from officers eager to have their photos taken. After many of his sessions, officers are previously familiar with his content. Beyond the NYPD, his portfolio extends to the FDNY, MTAPD, the Marines and more. 

“When I started taking pictures, I never expected to grow this big on social media,” he said. “I just like taking pictures.” 

Through Regan’s lens, he hopes to tell the unique stories of the heroes behind the badge. He gets to “serve the community” through his camera, spreading a message of hope around New York City. 

Nolan can be found at @_nolansphotos_ on Instagram and @nolannyc on TikTok and YouTube.

Photos by Nolan Regan