Today we are featuring Nykie Grove Eades of Auckland, New Zealand. Nykie is drawn to the uninhibited nature of children. For her business, Nykie offers clients both documentary sessions and lifestyle, but that even in her lifestyle work she takes incredible care to focus on those natural, unplanned, in between moments. You can find Nykie online on her site, facebook, and instagram. Below is a little more about Nykie, her work, and her business in her own words.
What made you focus on b&w photography? Do you approach shooting differently knowing that they will be converted to black & white?
My work has just progressed that way… I started with B&W only in my own dark room in the 90s, to then creating perfect colour images when I went pro with digital many years later, which I still love. But as time went on especially with photographing kids, the images became more about the randomness of shapes and moments, I feel like black & white strips the image down to the bare bones of a moment. Often I feel like colour distracts. I will leave it however if I think it’s adding to the feeling of the shot, or if the shot is about eyes, but more often than not I will choose black & white.
I don’t shoot for black & white specifically, but I know the second I have taken one…. they’re more often the random funny moments that happen in between, the moments when my subjects “let go”, and chaos ensues… (the best bit).
There is so much motion & action in your images and I love your choices to pan or accentuate the image with a slower shutter speed. Any tips for those who might be looking to incorporate those techniques into their work?
Practice! To learn to pan, I went to several high speed events from motocross, to running, and my own kids on water slides…. It is still hit & miss. With panning I find you’ll get the best results if you start moving with your subject WELL before you plan to click the shutter… you’ll get a feel for the speed of the movement, then keep panning well after your shutter has shut again. This way you’ll get the flow of the movement – then do it several times. Often kids are having a blast having all eyes on them over and over again 🙂
On paid jobs I will play with this effect, but I do tend to only do it when I know I have a ton of other shots in the bag. I guess it’s kind of my “me time” on a shoot. I try to play as much as I can once I feel I’ve nailed what I came to get (which also feels like play!). Aside from panning, just some good old motion blur is awesome. Kids especially are so frenetic! You do need to be open to having images that are loose and free and not necessarily sharp. Enjoy it……. let the fun of it wash over you 🙂
I love all the different perspectives you use in your photos. When you photograph a scene, do you know ahead of time the perspective you want to shoot from? Or do you shoot from several different perspectives and see what works best afterwards?
I have gotten a feel for it… If kids, for example, are immersed in an activity, like a bath, I will just shoot from many different angles because I simply have time. Quite often though I am inspired by what’s happening in the moment – With kids, I feel like their world is so much more about “the now” than us adults. I often feel inspired to lay down, or hide behind something, or climb a tree!, and just watch them and hope that I can disappear just momentarily. Also I feel like I am “in their world”, by getting an angle that accentuates their play.
Of course too the back of mind is always on composition mode. I also shoot quite wide, and I am a serial cropper… I work fast and I move a lot, and that’s just how I unashamedly roll 🙂
There’s an effortless joy and that comes shining through in your portfolio – not only with kids, but also with adults. What are a few tips you use to help clients relax and truly feel comfortable in front of the camera?
I feel people! Awkwardness hits me as if it were a stab to the chest…… I struggle with anxiety and part of that is an almost hyper sensitivity to people. Over the years I have developed an almost selfish need to put myself at ease on a shoot, which has resulted in my style developing, and I therefore need people to be genuinely having fun.
My philosophy is FUN FIRST, PHOTOS HAPPEN….. I am always honest at the start, “lets get a few awkward ones in the bag, and then we can warm up a bit”….. I find telling people they will warm up is a self-fufilling prophecy. I also have a secret weapon, which is my chicken hat. It is honestly the most dorky looking thing, I put it on and act like a fool and people loosen up. I talk a lot on shoots, sing, dance, pull faces, and genuinely enjoy peoples company. People sense that there is no ego at all coming from me, and they can relax. If dad is awkward, get him DOING stuff like interacting, tickling, piggy backs, etc… and also let him know he is “off the hook” quite early on in the shoot – and you’ll find he will probably want to keep being involved later on anyway…. Kids are tricky, but I find it’s just about respect. Use your manners, ask nicely, ask about their day… if they are super shy, it’s a good idea to start from their home and check out their bedrooms etc… Also don’t be over bearing from the beginning, chat to the parents first and let the kids see you being friendly with them, and their trust will instinctively follow.
I like the way you have put this question… “effortless joy”, for the client it really should be, but as a photographer it comes from a place of 100% commitment and effort in caring for people and reading them, and enjoying them.
What percentage of your business is lifestyle vs. documentary? Do you get more inquries about one type of session vs. another? And if so, do you ever work with your clients to persuade them into a different style of photography based upon what you are learning about them? Walk us through how you and your clients decide on the style of photo session that works for them.
Mmmm, I think I am at 50/50. Lately I have been convincing more of my lifestyle clients to get shots done at home first before we go to a location, so we can get both. I won’t push to hard on that, but the ones that do take me up usually end up really loving that portion of their shoot. I feel like here in New Zealand people are leaning more towards the unposed and unscripted style. We’re a pretty humble nation and most people are not after a large posed portrait above the fireplace. Currently I am trying to really educate more people about the joys of documentary by driving what I call the “Unposed & Funposed revolution” , I have never been into marketing that uses fear to get people to book – but I can’t help but have a genuine yearning for people to capture their families now and often before their kids get older – missing that opportunity does scare me!
If someone enquires with me, I will facebook stalk them! I can often get an idea of someones style by having a quick look at their images or house. I will also ask about kids hobbies and interests… There is usually something in there that will allow me guide them towards at least starting the shoot at home. I have to show what these images will look like too. It’s hard for people to imagine how their “every day life” will translate into anything special. But if say, a mum tells me Tommy LOVED his dinosaur collection… I’ll say “well lets celebrate that! we can go to beach afterwards when the light is pretty, but it would be awesome to be at home first and capture his every day awesome”
I will also gently tell people how amazing it is to look back on photos years later and reminisce about the way their house was, or the items in the room, the carpet, the wallpaper. My dad was an awesome photographer and our family albums are absolute treasures of every day stuff! In a nutshell, I get a sense about a person, I will push the doco a little, and sometimes not at all, and see if they bite… and if they don’t that’s fine. My lifestyle shoots will also contain a fair whack of unscripted goodness too! And just like I do with documentary, I do stop and take some camera aware portraits as well……. mix it up I say 🙂 I am all about having fun!