Nyk Sykes, an internationally recognised fashion photographer based in Sydney, won Silver in the single image category of Fashion: Chapter 3. The winning image is part of his "Lady of Middle Earth" series inspired by “The Lord of the Rings” film. Nyk explains: “I wanted to explore outside the conventions of fashion and beauty and look more at character and glamour. The looks were inspired by characters and creatures in the film without referencing individual characters. I used a single model to express a range of looks from the shyness of the Hobbits to the darkness of Mordor. The winning photo is an evil queen, the consort of the Dark Lord Sauron.
Nyk took up photography professionally seven years ago, having explored the creative outlets of design and poetry since leaving University. Since becoming a full-time photographer, he has photographed 12 fashion weeks in Sydney, Melbourne and Bali, has been published by many leading Australian magazines and newspapers and has won international recognition from the USA, the UK, Sweden and Russia as well as Australia. Most notably, he was a Semi-Finalist in last years Hasselblad Masters Award.
His background and training merge to create his unique style. Nyk explains: “I feel that my previous career as a magazine and newspaper designer was crucial to my quick maturing as a professional photographer. Selecting and photoshoping photos on a daily basis is central to both professions. My visual understanding comes from the long history of western art rather than just the history of photography: I trained in photography at the Sydney Institute of Technical and Further Education having previously studied the history and philosophy of art.”
Nyk is fan of entering industry competitions, feeling that they raise photographers’ status both internationally and domestically. “In my home of Australia,” he explains, “overseas success is critical to furthering a career in fashion photography. The LPA Fashion prize has provided an excellent raison d’etre for a marking campaign targeting fashion designers and editors.”
As an event photographer, Nyk has photographed model Elle Macpherson, designer Georgio Armani, actor Cate Blanchet and performer Dita Von Teese. However, his first editorial shoot remains one of his most memorable. “We were on a catamaran in Pittwater harbour north of Sydney,” he recalls. “We used both a female and male model. We had a perfect day with wonderful results...Such a perfect day that we didn’t notice the tide go out.
“We were run aground on the wrong side of Pittwater surrounded by forest and bush land . It was Saturday and we all had events to go to. The male model had a dinner date with his girlfriend! It was so funny listing to him on the phone to her - she didn’t believe him; she thought it was the worst excuse she’d ever heard. She threatened to end the relationship if he wasn’t there on time. Luckily we were rescued by a passing American tourist in a speedboat!”
Nyk has recently returned from photographing Bali Fashion Week, where he particularly enjoyed shooting their distinctive street parade of fashion which included fashion models in horse draw carriages riding down the main street and along the beach front. “The trip was topped of by staying at a five-star hotel where I was plied with free drinks by the local head barman an aspiring professional photographer - in return for photographic tips. A fair trade!”
Nyk’s next major project is shooting his 8th Sydney Fashion Week which he describes as “one of my great pleasures: demanding and exhausting.” His next exhibition is at the end of the year at SNO Gallery – Australia’s international centre for abstract art. His body of work involves photographing fashion in the context of the abstract art exhibitions at the gallery over the past two years: the abstraction of colour and form in cloth and canvas working together, and the moving human body against the stillness of paint and wood.
Nyk believes that, like fashion, photography is both an art and a business. “As an artist, I strive to develop my own style and themes. I aim to work with particular fashion designers, magazines and galleries that I feel a synergy with.”
Photograph caption: Mistress of Middle Earth
Nyk Sykes's LPA Folio