Through the Lens of Vulnerability: A Conversation with Kylie Nic
Kylie of Kylie Nic Photography has her own twist of the lens in her work. With each shoot she works, she puts full effort into making the photos more than just snapshots of the event. She digs deeper into her clients, pulling out their vulnerability in front of the camera. Her style is remarkable, and resembles that of an open story book. We decided to chat with Kylie, to see what inspired her to make her photographs so much more than paused frames of life.
Q: On your about page, you wrote that you picked up a camera in 2009 and your love began from there. What made you chose to go into photography, as opposed to another art form?
Photography found me. There wasn’t ever a point where I made the conscious choice to choose photography over another art form. I see the world differently through my lens; I see it at its best, richest, most beautiful form, and that inspired me to continue pursuing photography. Photography is how I relate to and understand the world, as well as how I relate to others. For me, photography is a communication and relationship tool.
Q: Your work tends to dive into the vulnerability of the people in front of the camera. How do you guide your clients to become so open and honest within their statures?
Wow, describing my work like that is such a compliment! Thank you! I’m a very open person, and I’m big on vulnerability. My number one goal is to establish a deep connection and trust with whoever I am photographing. I share about my own life, and I ask my clients about their own. Because we have already established a relationship and trust through these conversations in real life, I am able to capture authentic emotions and personalities in front of the camera.
Q: Where is the most unique place you have ever shot? Did you find it more challenging or more liberating to shoot?
I shot overlooking Yosemite valley in Yosemite National Park. It was the most exhilarating and magical experience. It was definitely liberating- I felt like my soul was free! Travel is my absolute favorite, and any shoot that enables me to travel is going to be magical.
Q: Many people think of the art industry as a weary path. How did you quiet the criticizing voices?
I first had to quiet the voices within my own head and heart. If you doubt yourself even the slightest, when those same doubts are vocalized by others — be it your peers, your parents, or strangers — they stick. They can latch on and slowly eat away at you. So for me, it was figuring out what I really wanted out of life, and then having the confidence to go after it. If you have confidence and believe in yourself, it won’t matter what anyone else says. Work hard and believe. I call this combination hustle & heart.
Q: How rewarding is it to find that your clients see a friend in you, and not just an outsider coming to capture moments and memories?
This is by far the greatest gift and the best part of my job. We are on this earth to love and be loved. To spread love, be in relationships (friendships, family, and romantic), and live.
Q: When you were growing up, had you always been involved in the arts, or did you see yourself in a different world?
I entered college as a math major! I thought I wanted to do something more “practical”, but photography kept showing up in my life at very meaningful times until I couldn’t ignore pursing it full time any longer. Growing up, I took art classes, played piano and violin, and danced. I was definitely artistic, but I was also a HUGE nerd (I had a 4.0 in high school- I love school!), and so I was torn for awhile about what path to follow.
Q: Of course, weddings and portraits are the traditional shoot to be taken. If you had the opportunity to shoot any way, anywhere, doing anything, who, where and what would it be?
I would photograph a couples’ or portrait session in Santorini, Greece. The white buildings and blue ocean are just so beautiful.
Q: Has there been any shoot that was particularly moving for you, both in your career and on a more personal level?
Weddings get me every time. I also do a lot of portrait shoots for musicians, and I always leave those sessions with a deeper connection with the person, a newfound appreciation for the arts, and a different perspective on life.
Q: It sounds cliche, but the best advice comes from those who have been through it or are going through it right now. What would you tell an aspiring photographer, or someone who is feeling like they just don’t have the ‘it’ factor?
Does that insinuate that I have the “it” factor? Because I wouldn’t say that I have “made it”! No one has. The second you feel like you’ve “made it” is the second you stop improving. It’s really important for me to stay humble and grounded.
As for aspiring photographers, I have a few pieces of advice. First, shoot shoot shoot! Photograph your friends, siblings, cousins, people you meet in line for coffee... anyone who will model for you. Being a master of your craft is #1. Take classes, read books, watch videos... education is bountiful nowadays. Second, be confident, but humble. Believe in yourself, but also recognize the many people who have helped you get to where you are. Third, find a community. Find other photographers in your area, and arrange a meet up. It’s so valuable to have others who are on the same journey that you are, to exchange tips, learn from each other, and support each other. Find a mentor. Reach out to local photographers and see if anyone needs an assistant!