Nina Dym, '18

Alumna takes love of photography to next level, offering students, friends, family inexpensive photo shoots

Photo used by permission of Dym
Nina Dym, ’18

If you were going to get a photo taken for a special event, to whom would you go? A photography company? Maybe a professional photographer?

Well, how about a classmate?

If you choose a classmate, you’re not alone.

Twelve students from the class of ’18 felt the same way and had fellow classmate Nina Dym, ’18, take their senior portraits.

For Bryce Longoria, ’18, the decision wasn’t very difficult.

“I knew she’d take good pictures, so I didn’t really look into other photographers,” he said.

In addition, many of the others, such as Atsuo Chiu, ’18, and Jake Longoria, ’18, appreciated the ease of being able to simply call their friend to set up a photo shoot instead of having to make an appointment with a professional company.

Jake said he also appreciated the variety of locations that Dym could shoot at and how creative he could be with the photos.

Traditionally, professional photographers have photo shoots at only one specific location, but Dym allows her clients to choose multiple locations all over Sacramento.

However, Dym’s photo shoots aren’t just a casual get-together for classmates; she has her own photography business, a factor that led many classmates to hire her.

Dym said, though, that she doesn’t consider it a business. “I just take photos when people request it and charge because it takes a lot of my time and effort,” she said.

Nina Dym
Smita Sikaria, ’18, was one of 12 students who asked Dym to take their senior portraits.

Although Dym has been interested in photography for a long time, she created her business in June of 2017, when she began spending more time on photography and portraits.

“People started seeing my pictures on Instagram, and some of these people started reaching out to me to take photos,” Dym said.

Most of her jobs came from people she knew: former and current classmates who had seen her work on Instagram, along with members of her family, according to Dym.

Because many of these requests came from her friends, Dym realized that there could be many people in her class who would be interested in having their photos taken by her instead of by a company.

In order to make her services an affordable alternative to professional photographers, whose shoots typically cost hundreds of dollars, Dym charges $50 for the photo shoots.

Customers first work with her to choose a location. Dym said that she has gone to many different places for the photos; she even went to Old Sacramento.

Once at a location, Dym said that she takes at least a thousand photos of the customer in various positions and lightings.

Customers can wear whatever they choose for the shoot.

According to Dym, her role in posing depends on the customer.

“Some people I really don’t need to guide because it comes natural, (but) for some people I talk with them through the whole shoot to tell them how they should pose,” said Dym.

Dym said that she usually gives more instructions to boys and often tells them to put their hands in their pockets while standing or to lean against something.

For girls, Dym said that posing usually comes more naturally. However, if they need some help, Dym has them play with their hair, cross their arms or do something that fits with the location.

In addition, Dym said that she likes to always keep a conversation going during the shoot because it makes the customer more comfortable and reduces their focus on the camera.

“Sometimes I can get nice candids of them thinking of a reply or laughing after a good story,” she said. “It’s a nice way for me to catch up with them or get to know them better while getting them more comfortable and looking more natural.”

Afterwards, she deletes the photos that aren’t usable, such as those in which the subject blinks or the lighting is bad, until she has around a hundred photos.

Dym then edits the remaining photos on her phone with an easy-to-use app, brightening or sharpening the photos until she is satisfied with their quality, and sends them to the client when she is finished.

This process takes Dym anywhere from three-and-a-half to six hours, spending one-and-a-half to two hours shooting photos, one to two hours reviewing the photos and one to two hours editing them.

It’s hard to compare Dym’s service to a professional company because most photography work varies from client to client.

However, XSIGHT Photography and Video (918 12th St., Sacramento) was able to break down their services for the sake of comparison.

Photo used by permission of XSIGHT Photography and Video
The IMAX Theatre is one of many locations within walking distance of XSIGHT Photography and Video, where students can choose to have their photos taken.

Clients can choose to have the photoshoot in XSIGHT’s studio, within walking distance of the studio or at a different location of their choice.

The price of the photos is separate from the location costs and varies depending on what the client wants.

An in-studio or within-walking-distance session has a base cost of $200 and lasts one to one-and-a-half hours. Clients are allowed up to three outfit changes during this period.

If a client wishes to use another location, the cost will be $300, and the total cost must be at least $500.

In addition, XSIGHT also offers the services of a makeup and hair vendor for an additional cost that ranges from $150 to $400.

Although she’s finished with end-of-the-year photo shoots, Dym’s photography business is far from over – she already has multiple photo shoots scheduled during the summer.

In fact, at Dym’s uncle’s wedding, she will be the official photographer.

However, while Dym does enjoy taking photos of friends and family, it’s not what really drives her interest in photography.

Rather, Dym said she enjoys the ability to capture moments and preserve them forever, documenting different points in a person’s life.

“The ability of photos to bring back memories is really powerful, and it’s what I really love about photography,” she said.  

—By David Situ

Click here to view Dym’s photography Instagram account:

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