Stevie van der Chys is a passionate and determined young entrepreneur. During her hardest times as a teenager, Stevie found solace in photography and hasn’t looked back since. Now running a successful business called SVDC Photographer with her sister Georgette, Stevie has had the privilege of photographing well-known girl bosses such as Zoe Foster-Blake and Sophia Amaruso. Living her life as an adventure, Stevie also dedicates a lot of her time empowering women and supporting issues close to her heart.
Thanks for chatting with us today Stevie, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into photography?
It’s my pleasure, thanks for having me, I really love your Ladies We Love blog!
I have always loved photography. As a child, my sister Georgette and I would dress up in our mums clothes and take photos on an old analogue camera with our barbies and animals by our side to send into Barbie mag. It wasn’t until I was 2007 when I was 17 years old that photography pretty much saved my life. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Depression after a lifetime of family violence, and I was too unwell to finish school. This was devastating, as I’d always wanted to become a Doctor to help people. After my diagnoses, I spent 3 months under my blanket, so unwell, so afraid. The only thing that made me feel better and got me out of bed was going and taking photographs (of my sister and myself, naturally). This is where my passion and healing through photography started and SVDC Photographer was founded in 2007.
Empowering women is a big passion of yours, what events and causes have you been involved in to help women feel strong and inspired?
My biggest and most proud project to date was my #SVDCBodyLove Exhibition and Fundraiser where I photographed 20 women pro-bono, including Tara Moss, all hand chosen because they inspired me. I took beautiful authentic portraits of them in their homes, in their skin. The feedback I received from these women was beyond amazing. One of them even left an abusive relationship after her shoot, as she saw her power and beauty in the imagery, something that had been crushed in her being in that relationship. She’s now happily partnered in a beautiful loving relationship, and she thanks me for it, I feel so honoured and blessed to have made such a positive impact on her journey. As part of my event we fundraised for the Full Stop Foundation. They support Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, so their work is in putting a stop to domestic violence and sexual assault, full stop.
I also co-hosted a sold out ‘Embrace the Documentary’ screening in November 2016, and with these events combined, we raised over $7,500 in 2016 for the foundation – woo hoo!
Like Tara Moss, is there anyone else of notoriety you have had the chance to photograph?
I’ve been honoured to photograph: Zoe Foster Blake – Go To Skincare, Emma Isaacs – Global CEO Business Chicks, Damien Gameau – Director and Producer That Sugar Film (and his actress partner Zoe Tuckwell Smith), Rachel Zoe – Celebrity Stylist, Sophia Amaruso – Nasty Gal and Author of ‘Girlboss’, Michelle Merrifield – Essence of Living, Lizzie Abegg and Isabel Penefather – Spell and The Gypsy Collective sisters. Shelley Craft – The Block and Saturday Disney, Maryanne Shearer – Founder and CEO of T2, Nadia Bartel – Chronicles of Nadia, Shelly Horton – TV Host, Sarah Jane Young – Blogger, Margie Woods – Viktor and Woods, Justine Flynn – Thankyou Group, Mia Freedman – MamaMia, Lorraine Murphy – The Remarkables Group, And I’m also photographig Radek Saleh – CEO of Swisse this January.
You capture your photos through meditation, numerology readings and astrology readings, can you tell us how this is done and how does it benefit the outcome of the photos?
When I’m photographing someone, I use the same techniques that helped me to heal from PTSD and Depression, and that I use in everyday life to continue on my soul journey. It’s all about learning more about myself, and why I’m here on earth.
So when I meet a client, I ask for their birthdate, and from there I give them a summary on their Astrology and Numerology, and then we delve into their close family and friends, and I help them to understand their relationships better. I believe so much of life is connection, it what makes or breaks us. It’s fascinating and wonderful how people open up when they feel understood. I also believe highly in teaching the 5 Love Languages and I meditate (almost!) daily, so I encourage my clients to do the same. Sometimes we’ll meditate before a shoot, it helps to be calm and centred.
There are a variety of packages available for purchase on your website, do you have a favourite type of package that you like to shoot?
I carefully developed these packages as they are the 4 areas I love photographing! My favourite would have to be #SVDCBirths. I love the adrenaline of getting the call, racing to the hospital and admiring and capturing that beautiful mama and her support team, as she brings her baby earth side. I admire women’s strength, and I feel my work always captures that, especially when a woman is birthing.
I also love photographing #SVDCCorporate and Business Headshots, #SVDCBodyLove Portraits and #SVDCWeddings.
Outside of photography, what do you enjoy doing?
I love connecting with like-minded, kind, passionate women. I love hanging out with my partner Michael and our friends. I enjoy camping and finding beautiful spots to meditate – my latest favourite spot is the Californian Red Woods in the Otway’s or at the beach. I love working on my business with my sister Georgette and our team, and planning and accomplishing exciting projects.
You’re a huge inspiration to many women but how do you inspire yourself day to day?
Thank you! The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to listen to my body, and honour my feelings and energy that day.
I complete courses, read books, watch TedTalks, and educate myself constantly.
I also aim to do one thing every single day that scares me. I love this quote by Abraham Maslow “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”
I’m at a stage now where I’ve built my tribe, and I feel there is no other option than to step into my power and grow, and to continue to inspire others and myself.
Being a Geelong local, where do enjoy catching up with friends?
For coffee you’ll often find me at Two Sugars on Pako, I absolutely love the staff and service!
For lunch dates with my team, our fav spot is Sakuratei Japanese Cuisine on Shannon Ave, and for after-work or weekend drinks, it’s always Union St Wine Bar then Captains.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I dream about how many people I can inspire to step into their own power, how genuine we can all be, what stories we can tell to help others, and I hope for a better world, where all people are kind the themselves first, and in turn, kind to everyone else. My aspirations are for SVDC to be a movement of empowerment. I have big dreams and goals for SVDC’s expansion, and 2017 is a year for lots of growth.
Do you have a philosophy that you live by?
“When you discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen