Nate Vomhof: Behind the Drone that Makes Milwaukee Shine

You’ve probably seen his drone footage all over social media, but who’s behind the drone that puts Milwaukee on the map?

Nate Vomhof: Behind the Drone that Makes Milwaukee Shine

You’ve probably seen his drone footage all over social media, but who’s behind the drone that puts Milwaukee on the map?

You’ve probably seen his drone footage all over social media, but who’s behind the drone that puts Milwaukee on the map? We sat down with “Drone Nate” on the podcast today to learn how he went from engineering major, to pharmacist, to professional drone videographer/photographer. Not only does his Instagram account reach hundreds of thousands of people per month, he’s shot for some of the largest brands in the city and did the drone footage for Top Chef when they were in Milwaukee. We also go in depth of Nate’s favorite shots and go to spots in the city. If you’re looking to get to better know Milwaukee and the man who makes it shine this episode is for you! 


Nate Vomhof: It was weird. You don’t know how to do these things when you pick up a camera, but then it’s when companies started asking, I was like, Oh, I might be onto something here. Northwestern Mutual wanted some photos. I shot for Top Chef. They had me for 12 hours and that day was just crazy.

Richie Burke: Hey everyone. It’s your host, Richie Burke. Welcome back to Milwaukee Uncut. Today we’ve got the man behind the drone that makes Milwaukee look beautiful. Drone Nate. His real name is Nate Vomhoff who has an interesting story of how he went from being an engineering major Turned pharmacist, which he still is as well to a professional drone photographer and videographer Also a good friend and a good guy to throw some beers back with before we dive in just a reminder Milwaukee uncut is produced in the heart of walkers point by story mark studios in partnership With OnMilwaukee and presented by Nicolet Law the midwest’s law firm and Central Standard Distillery and Russell Nicolet from Nicolet Law, the man behind all the billboards you see was on last week’s episode.

He had all sorts of crazy stories from the courtroom. We went over Wisconsin’s craziest laws and then got to learn about how he grew. Nicolay from a one man firm in Hudson, Wisconsin to where it is today. So make sure to check that episode out if you have not already. And a big shout out to our friends at Central Standard Distillery. As you’ll learn in this episode, drone, Nate at age 33 was out till 1 AM at the harp the night before this episode and still made it to this recording and then worked a pharmacy shift after this recording. So, , just a, just a genetic. Beast Drone Nate is, , just a physical and mental specimen right there.

So anyway, if you’re looking to send it, like Drone Nate, or just enjoy a casual cocktail with friends, we always recommend our friends at Central Standard Distillery. All right, on to the episode with Nate Vomhoff.

Nate Vomhof: I actually went to a school for engineering at UWM and, , I sat through a Calc 2 class and I just was like, nah, this, this isn’t it.

So I worked at Walgreens. I was like, I could be a pharmacist. So I went to pharmacy school.

Richie Burke: You were just like You’re at UWM for engineering and then were you just like working the counter at Walgreens and you’re like I could yeah pharmacy

Nate Vomhof: Yeah, I got kind of a foot in the door at the Walgreens. I worked at I worked at Oakland Locust I also worked at the Walgreens back in my hometown and just decided, you know Let me see what this is like and it wasn’t terrible.

Richie Burke: So engineering Engineering Pharmacy and photography and drone go very well together. Yeah. You’re a very skilled han being over there.

Nate Vomhof: You know, I feel like if you apply yourself, you can do anything, so I kind of, you know. Yeah. I wasn’t applying myself to go to college too though, so.

Richie Burke: So, you’re doing that at Walgreens, you go into pharmacy, when did the whole drone photography thing

Nate Vomhof: start for you?

So, for me, I, my last rotation of pharmacy school, so your last year of pharmacy school, you go on rotations, so you get that clinical experience, you’re working in hospitals, you’re working at a retail spot, you’re working, I worked with like a corporate Walgreens, , and each thing is six weeks. So my last one was on the Navajo reservation down in Arizona.

So, I wanted to have a nice camera to take photos of the great American Southwest. So once that happened, I picked up my first camera. , when I got back here, I just started taking photos of the city and the following year I figured it’d be cool to capture different perspectives. So I bought a drone.

Richie Burke: What year was

Nate Vomhof: that?

Richie Burke: 2018. How did it evolve from then? When did you start posting stuff on Instagram and getting your following there?

Nate Vomhof: So the photos I kind of just posted along the way, for me, it was more about, you know, This angle of the city school. This is something that I enjoy, you know, like it was never about a following at that point and it isn’t really now either.

I’m just trying to have fun. So finding new perspectives and just, you know, capturing that, , that’s, I don’t know. Yeah.

Richie Burke: When, , was there a moment when you really started to see things take off?

Nate Vomhof: Yeah. So it’s been a constant learning curve. So the first, Thing like people just were like, hey, how do I buy this photo?

So I’m sitting here trying to figure out like, how do I sell a photo? What

Richie Burke: was the first time someone asked you to buy a photo? What

Nate Vomhof: was that like? It was weird Like you don’t know how to do these things when you pick up a camera you’re just like oh You you want to buy this? How do I order a photo? So you just order it online and I like packed it up myself.

I shipped it to myself and sent it off and But then it’s when companies started asking. I was like, Oh, I might be onto something here. So, Northwestern Mutual wanted some photos and I was like, this is, this is crazy. So, and then you have to figure out how do you price a photo? How do you price a video? And it’s just been constantly learning.

Richie Burke: Yeah, you don’t learn that in engineering or pharmacy school. No, unfortunately

Nate Vomhof: not.

Richie Burke: Was there a certain point where like a video or photo took off on, online that was a bigger break than others for you? Or has it just been all pretty gradual since you started?

Nate Vomhof: So most of it’s been gradual, but every once in a while something hits.

Like the Harley Davidson lightning shot. I’m sure you guys have seen. , that one went crazy. I mean people are excited about the Harleys. People are excited about Milwaukee. So you just combine the two and It goes crazy, but it’s crazy how the algorithm works and everything. So I don’t really count on anything actually doing well, but when it does, I’m

Richie Burke: happy.

That’s a good way to look at it. It is kind of hard to predict. Yeah. I’ve been on both, , both sides where some just shoot off and you’re hitting refresh and there’s a ton of new people and others where you’re hitting refresh and there’s complete crickets and you’re like, shit, I thought that was really good.

I put a ton of time into that and

Nate Vomhof: like, no one is liking this. No. And then you throw something together in 20 minutes and it was crazy. It’s just like, you know,

Richie Burke: The value of putting stuff out there. You just, yeah, you don’t, you don’t know. You just gotta throw it up there and see what sticks. , just going on to some, some, some quicker questions.

What is the craziest shoot that you’ve

Nate Vomhof: ever done? Craziest shoot? , I shot for Top Chef and that day was just crazy. , they had me for 12 hours. The first shot they wanted me to do was to fly down Kilborn. I was hovering above a car and they’re like, we’re going to open the sunroof of the car, but we want to have sightline of the driver driving.

And they wanted me to be super low. And there’s like crosswalk signs that are above the street. So I’m trying to just avoid, you know, hitting the sign, but also this is the most technical shot I’ve ever done. I’m just trying to follow this car. And then they want me to pull back and expose the city that I got there.

And I did the shot. I think we did like five takes on it. Okay. I didn’t feel like any of them were exactly what they wanted, but they were excited about it still. But, , I was like, this is going to be a long day if you got me for 12 hours. That was how it kicked off? That was the beginning, yeah. Was it easier after that?

It got a lot easier, yeah. The other shots were just straight, just fly throughs,

Richie Burke: so. Any crazy weather? You run out to you get some good shots in the winter

Nate Vomhof: so Whether if there’s low fog, I am always trying to get out there for that Just because I have this shot in mind. I just want to see the top of the buildings exposed from the fog , but I want nighttime, but I haven’t been able to capture that yet nighttime will fog.

Yep So if you can make that happen,

Richie Burke: how often are you checking the weather?

Nate Vomhof: Weather I try to pay attention. Usually it’s kind of a last minute thing if I’m going to go out. I’m just looking out the back door at my place and just, the sun is setting and the clouds are in the sky. I’m like, there could be a good sunset.

So, I rush out.

Richie Burke: How often do you shoot? You’re putting new clips out several times a week it seems.

Nate Vomhof: Probably Two to three times a week if I can sometimes I don’t go out at all You know, it really depends if it’s rainy and depressing. I don’t usually go out. So

Richie Burke: yeah, what’s your favorite video you’ve ever done favorite

Nate Vomhof: video?

That’s a tricky one. I Enjoy capturing right home cello is probably my favorite last year So

Richie Burke: you want to tell me people about home cello home cello? No. Yeah this year. I believe you can plug it

Nate Vomhof: Yeah, so DJ Shauna Eric at Light the Hone and I just kind of dreamed up this idea to have, you know, a kind of a gala on the water, but also something that was just celebrating Milwaukee’s water.

And we put DJ Shawna on a boat, , we lined up a crap ton of boats that went up the river. DJ Shawna did her set on the boat and then, , we synced her set to the bridge. And then launch some fireworks. So it’s

Richie Burke: cool. I was hanging with Ian Abstin last Friday and he was talking about it. And I think it’s really cool.

You guys did that because every gala in the city basically seems the same. It’s nice to do something different, more engaging. It seems like it’s

Nate Vomhof: more of a celebration and this year is just going to be bigger and better. So,

Richie Burke: we’re just trying to find ,

Nate Vomhof: so it’s called Honecoming this year. Hone, H O A N, C O M I N G.

Yep, , so it’ll be on August 17th, so, book that date. Check it out. , what is your favorite Milwaukee landmark to shoot? So my favorite is probably the art muse just cause it’s world class architecture right there. , second favorite is probably the water tower on top of Coakley brothers. Shout out to Ben Jewick.


Richie Burke: Great guy. Any landmark that you love shooting that people would not be aware of that’s a little bit under the radar.

Nate Vomhof: So for me it’s not necessarily a landmark, but it’s like the density of the city, you know, finding different nooks and crannies that you can kind of show off that, Maybe people haven’t explored before.

So recently I posted a shot coming down Plankton and people are like, I’ve never seen that perspective of the city. The home was in the distance and they’re like, I’ve never seen that angle before. So that excites me. That’s cool.

Richie Burke: Outside of drone shooting, what is your favorite Milwaukee activity? , I mean drinking would be the easy answer , but you got a lot of options for there any specific spot you like to drink at?

Nate Vomhof: , usually, , it’s somewhere on mlk or third street. Otherwise brady street’s always a safe bet good

Richie Burke: options

Nate Vomhof: harp

Richie Burke: Love the harp. Yeah Harp gets a shout out on just about every episode. You were there. You were there last

Nate Vomhof: night last night Yep

Richie Burke: on thirsty thursday in your thirties

Nate Vomhof: thursday. Yeah. Yeah good for you.

Good for you You So I was meeting up with Wave Chappelle. I don’t know if you know him, but, . Met him and Kyle at Brought House and then moseyed on over to What time were you out till? , probably like, one. Not, not too late. Way to go, Drone Nate. You know? Way to go. Gotta socialize once in a while here.

Richie Burke: favorite Milwaukee restaurant? I know the harp does serve food, but if we can go somewhere else, we’re just giving them too much love for not paying to sponsor the show.

Nate Vomhof: Yeah, , favorite restaurant, there’s so many good restaurants, but a favorite recently has been Toro Casino over North Water Street there.

Richie Burke: Toro Casino?

Nate Vomhof: Yeah. I’ve never heard of it. What is it? You know where DeMoto used to be?

Richie Burke: No, no. Right off Water Street.

Nate Vomhof: Yeah. Do you know where, where like veers, where it splits from like to Brady Street and then Oh, yeah, yeah. Right, right past that bridge right there. There’s a restaurant. It’s kinda like a by the north end, A little past.

It’s by River House.

Richie Burke: Got it. Yeah. By e, , by Eagle Park? No, yeah, yeah. By Eagle Park. It’s probably a walk away from Eagle

Nate Vomhof: Park. It’s like a Italian, like Mexican fusion restaurant

Richie Burke: sort. Oh. You know, did that, what did that used to be? Okay,

Nate Vomhof: I think it was something before that. Yeah, it was something before that.

, truckadero. Yes. Yeah. Okay, I know exactly where that is. , I heard there’s a, , speakeasy upstairs too, so I need to figure out how to get in there. You don’t have those strings

to pull?

Nate Vomhof: , not yet, but I guess. Maybe after your

Richie Burke: podcast appearance you’ll be able to. Hey. Pretty big deal. , What is your favorite Milwaukee beverage?

Nate Vomhof: Beverage? , If you go to the trade, they’ve got a great like smoked Old Fashioned. It was really good. So, I’d go with that.

Richie Burke: Looking back at the following you’ve built and all the cool places you’ve highlighted, does, what are, what are you most

Nate Vomhof: proud of? , for me, I think, The pride comes from just like being able to share the city and, you know, capturing and seeing people’s excitement of the city as it grows and changes.

So for me, capturing the city as it changes is really cool. Like the couture I’ve been docenting pretty well, the new tower in the third ward, just seeing the skyline change and seeing the people really proud of their city and seeing where it’s been and where it’s going. And then I’ve had people reach out to me and, you know, ask or be inspired to like check out Milwaukee for the first time and seeing those comments and.

Seeing people actually move here is crazy to me, but if I can help inspire people to be excited about their hometown, that’s cool.

Richie Burke: Yeah, I saw some people you’ve like met some people who moved here because they discovered your footage.

Nate Vomhof: Yeah. Yeah, which is crazy. That’s nuts.

Richie Burke: And , why do you like Milwaukee so much and why do you choose to stay here?

Nate Vomhof: I feel like it’s got a good energy. , I think the pride here has changed, you know, exponentially. I think Milwaukee with Ian, Started things off really well. , and then that’s just kind of carried. So people are excited to live here. They’re proud to live here and, , I’m excited to see where it goes, I guess.

Richie Burke: Love it. Well, I appreciate all the, , how you’re making Milwaukee look in all your amazing footage. I’m proud of you for staying out till the harp at 1 a. m. last night. What are you, 32, 33? 33. Yeah. Still getting after it. Drone Nate. Yeah. Thanks for all you do. Thanks for

Nate Vomhof: coming on today. I’m inviting you out next time, so.

I will not be there on Thursday. Get ready.

Richie Burke: The combination of my relationship status and the level of my hangovers keeps me away from the harp at 1 a. m. Just the, .

Nate Vomhof: You can bring Bri with, that’s fine. I guess,

Richie Burke: that doesn’t, that doesn’t. Oakley can come too, you know. , Oakley, Oakley loves the harp. Yeah.

We brought him there in the smer. The harp allowed Oakley to stay until about 10pm when it got too crowded. Yeah. And shout out to Brandon Chalker who was just walking him around doing a lot of damage at the harp. Brando and Oakley were just a two man wrecking crew out there. It was fun to watch. I’m gonna need the footage of this.

Thank you for tuning into this episode of Milwaukee Uncut. Please subscribe and write a review wherever you are listening to this episode to support the show and keep up on this highly engaging Milwaukee content. Milwaukee Uncut is produced by Story Mark Studios right in Walker’s Point. It is in partnership with On Milwaukee and sponsored by Nicolet Law and Central Standard Distillery.