Pointe And Shoot
Not many people follow their passions and start a career aged 15, but that’s exactly what Eva Nys did, combining her love of photography and dance
Photography by Eva Nys
Eva Nys spent most of her childhood and early 20s in Chandler, Arizona, and it was here, aged 15 that two passions collided – dance and photography. After graduating from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship, she was already in full swing of a career in dance photography. Now aged 25, Eva resides in New York, and is making a big name for herself as she travels nationwide photographing amateur and professional dancers
Glorious: You started taking photographs when you were 15 years-old. Did you know from a young age that you wanted to pursue a career in photography?
Eva Nys: I always had an interest in capturing moments, but from a young age I was far more obsessed with videography than images. I used to dream of creating movies or documentaries; I wanted to show people the way I thought the story should be told. When I got my first DSLR, the intent was to create short films with it, but that quickly morphed into a love of photography when I realised there was a different story I could tell through imagery.
Glorious: Why did you choose dance photography?
Eva Nys: It ended up being a natural connection between two passions. I had just begun dancing again right at the same time I started enjoying photography. To this day, I continue to pursue other subjects in photography, which I enjoy, but I always come back to dancers.
Glorious: Can you tell us the importance of dance as a form of self-expression? Is this something you hope to be present in your work?
Eva Nys: Dance really is an incredible form of self expression; everyone dances, sometimes even when they don’t realise they are. I’ve heard people say many times that dance is their drug; it can be cathartic to the extent that every cell of someone’s being pulls them to it. The connection between movement and soul is my favorite to capture, but it can be hard to get to that level of artistry out of a dancer.
Glorious: Is it difficult to capture a moment and get the pose just right, or does it come fairly easily?
Eva Nys: Knowing when to freeze the movement came fairly easy for me; it almost feels like instinct clicking when it’s the peak of a movement. With that said I rarely am satisfied with the first try of a pose. I like to use the first try as a building block to refine the details. I have a mental list I run through as I look at a shot before I start suggesting corrections. The list often goes:
3. Facial expression
4. Hair placement
7. Core/rib placement
9. Hands/finger placement
Then we work to get everything to the best of the dancer’s ability!
Glorious: As you’re a dancer, would you like to be photographed performing and making poses?
Eva Nys: Although I enjoy dancing myself, it’s far more exciting for me to capture other people dancing.
Glorious: You have been photographing for 10 years, so have there been any dancers that you’ve watched grow up behind the camera?
Eva Nys: One of the most surreal parts of the journey has been the connection I’ve made with long time clients. I started this career a lot younger than most, so there are a lot of dance parents that have watched me grow up as I watch their kids grow up. It’s exciting for me to play a part in their journey, supporting them along the way and capturing them throughout the years. On the flip side of that I am forever grateful for the role their parents play continuing to hire me through the years and support my journey through all of this.
Glorious: If you had to guess, how many different dancers do you think you have photographed, and what have been your highlights?
Eva Nys: I have easily photographed over 1,000 dancers, but at this point, if it were even possible, it would take a copious amount of time to find an exact number. The highlights always include the moments you can’t plan that lead to incredible results at shoots that went in the complete opposite direction as they were supposed to. For example, one day a dancer and I got hit with a snow storm unexpectedly, it was somehow 50 degrees and snowing; in that moment we were able to take some of my favourite images and I couldn’t have planned it.
Glorious: How do you choose your backdrops or setting for your photoshoots?
Eva Nys: When it comes to studio work I chose backdrops based on a few things: the story I want to tell, the lighting I want to use, and/or the outfit I want the dancer to wear. When it comes to location there are so many moving pieces, but it usually starts with the location and then I figure out everything else.
Glorious: How important is social media such as Instagram in terms of promoting your work/ getting noticed/ casting?
Eva Nys: Social media is the reason I found success at the rate I did. Having the audience I do without social media would have likely taken the majority of my life to accomplish or have just be impossible. Nearly all of my clients find me through social media and are able to connect with me that way to book a photo shoot.
Glorious: Are there any dancers that you would love to see behind the lens of your camera?
Eva Nys: Specifically no, in general I love working with dancers who can really feel a movement. One might think, “well don’t all dancers feel the movements?” And the answer is simply no. There are many dancers that just move through the movements as they are told. It is a special ability within dance to actually be able to feel every movement and it is an extra thrill to create with those dancers.
Glorious: What advice would you give to a woman or 15-year-old (as you were), looking to break into photography?
Eva Nys: Know who you are as a person, be confident in that person and use her to create yourself as a photographer. Always find inspiration from others, but remember copying makes lazy photographers. Don’t be afraid to try new ways and fail, the only photographers who look dumb are the ones who never try new things.
Glorious: What is next for you, do you want to continue with dance photography?
Eva Nys: My goal at this time is to move away from freelance clientele work and focus more on fine art dance photography. I hope to release a book within the next year and open a small gallery where I can sell prints and host events.