Stevie van der Chys

Stevie van der Chys

Before turning the lens on others, Stevie first turned it on herself taking self portraits as a means to overcome her post-traumatic stress disorder. She soon found her footing as an internationally published fashion and portrait photographer, with a certain knack for capturing her subjects in their truest form. Drawn to women for their beauty and strength, Stevie decided to put together #SVDCBodyLove series, showcasing and empowering different women as part of International Women’s Day. The series will have a special fundraising night on March 8 raising money for the Full Stop Foundation.

Hi Stevie, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte Magazine, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?

Thanks for the chat! I’m great, very busy with my business, photographing lots, and organising my upcoming photography exhibition and fundraiser on International Women’s Day. It’s going amazingly well, the support and sponsorship I’ve attained has been incredible and I’m really looking forward to the night now.

Was there a particular catalyst that made you want to put the event together?

I took self-portraits with a small camera I’d bought with pocket money during my recovery from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and I discovered how much healing it brought, so I put the call out to photograph more women in the aim to help them discover inner strength and beauty, and the response was incredible. So I started photographing more women who inspired me pro-bono and that’s when the #SVDCBodyLove Series was born.

After photographing a number of women, an exhibition seemed like a great idea. And me being me, I decided to take it to the next level and make it a fundraiser for the Full Stop Foundation on International Women’s Day!

SVDCBodyLove_Maternity

The series focuses on incredible women loving their body, why do you think that’s something that at times women can find a hard thing to do?

We are all our own harshest critic, and with changes to our bodies from babies, weight gain, weight loss, stress, illness, etc, we can get quite shy and self-conscious. It’s really important to me to help my subjects feel beautiful, strong, elegant and powerful during the shoot, and then at the end, show them just how beautiful they are, through my eyes.

Meeting and photographing all of these incredible women, has it taught you anything about yourself in the process?

Meeting all these incredible women has taught me how important connection and nurturing is to all women. I’m a sucker for nurturing (Cancerian and eldest daughter syndrome) and I just love that feeling of connecting with women.

Out of those women, have there been any encounters or stories that have stuck with you?

One of the most amazing women I photographed was Sahara. She was born in Kenya and came to Australia at age 11. Sahara opened the door of her commission flat in Collingwood with her baby boy on her hip and was instantly so warm and gentle, but also so smart and captivating as she spoke of her stories from Kenya. She was one determined, courageous woman.

Another special shoot was flying to the Blue Mountains to photograph Tara Moss, best-selling author and Patron of the Full Stop Foundation. I photographed Tara with her rescue dogs running around our feet. She was incredibly warm and friendly, and we connected really well.

Have the women seen the photos you’ve taken of them, what have their reactions been?

Yes, another part of the process is showing the women their photographs after the shoot. This is when we determine which are going to be in the series. The reactions have been amazing! One of my favourites was by Natalie, she said “As someone who never considered themselves a “woman” and who would rather wear hiking boots than heels, I can honestly say that I underestimated the comfort, ease and impact of this shoot. Stevie inspired, encouraged and made me feel and embrace being a woman”.

Another of my favourites is from Charity, “I wanted to do be a part of this shoot to inspire women to start taking the steps towards self love and body positive thoughts. I am fat, I am! I don’t use the word with negative connotations, I’m not ashamed of my body, it’s a body and there’s a zillion other bodies all around the world that look just like mine. I love my body, it does so much for me, one day it might even make a human! I think that’s pretty damn amazing. I want women to realise how AMAZING they are and how maybe even catch a glimpse of themselves the way others see them, simply beautiful.” she wrote.

What can be expected on the night for those that head along to the event?

The evening will consist of arriving at the beautiful historic Geelong Club, being ushered to the secret garden, handed a cocktail on arrival, delicious canapes and a gift bag valued at over $120. [You’ll then be] free to roam and view the art, music, a pre-recorded video message from Tara Moss speaking about the Full Stop Foundation and her experience being a #SVDCBodyLove subject & much more.

Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish?

Thank you for the opportunity. I would just like to add that tickets are available (if not sold out prior) at www.SVDCBodyLove.eventbrite.com.au

When & Where: The Geelong Club, Geelong – March 8