Devyn is a Nashville-based photographer and musician, who uses a camera to expose the world as she views it, which is different to most. She sees life in all things – from the simple falling of a leaf, to the twinkle in a person’s eye when they’re smitten. It drives her love for the craft. After all, there’s no better celebration of a moment than holding it forever in a picture.
This keen artist’s passion was sparked while studying in Turkey. Immersed in the excitement of a fresh, new culture, she began to document her travels, quickly discovering her unique world view. Even photographing through a smartphone screen, she drew life from the smiles of her classmates in frame. Soon, she began to focus more intently on the process.
Humble as she is, Devyn wants to showcase her evolving work. But to reveal her true potential, she must first step out of her own way. A focused study of one genre is another of Devyn’s goals, and she knows life will reveal that to her in time. For now, she’s happy reveling in everything it has to offer.
There will always be trials and tribulations on the journey of personal growth, but Devyn believes this is where creativity comes into play. Simply put, it’s freedom. And that, she says, is the greatest feeling in the world.
Devyn Myles harbors an unabashed enthusiasm for life. Casually reserved in demeanor, her tangible warmth comes through in words. In her portraiture, too, viewers will find signs of her unique outlook, and a distinctly positive view of humankind.
“It’s the genre that suits me,” she muses. “I love to close in on a person’s facial expressions, and examine how a little dimple in their chin does something special when they’re looking at the sun. That’s what really draws me in.”
Photographing during birthdays, graduations, maternity months, and beyond, Devyn craves a bond. Under the right conditions, her subjects bloom. When they do, she’s there to document it as closely as possible. For tied into a tight frame, there is a telling of truth that cannot be ignored.
“If I step back or use a wide lens, I have this entire frame in front of me. You see all these different aspects within the picture, which detract from the subject, in my mind. When I view people closely, it’s very intimate. It’s very vulnerable. I want to share that.
“The individuals themselves are really a cherry on top – especially if I know them well, or they come to me with an interesting story to share. But let it be known that I’m going to get up close! Because I want to see you – the truest version of you.
“I feel the way I see people outside of photography is different to most,” Devyn continues. “I’m always going to lead with mercy and grace. Connection is so natural to me. We should be able to connect not through pain, not through turmoil, not through shared traumas or experiences, but simply because we are humans.”
Offered an opportunity to work with eclectic Nashville powerhouse Nicole Atkins, the young photographer approached with an open mind.
“The space was set up, ready for the video recording. I’m happy to walk in and have an incredible backdrop and great lighting right there for me, so it was perfect,” Devyn laughs. “There was a fog machine, which can really set the tone of a session, but the element that jumped out most was the lighting. The crew had placed a huge, warm LED outside the window, which came through looking like sunshine. It was a gloomy day outside, so that really opened my eyes to things I could do in future, as far as completely changing the aesthetics of an environment. Even photographing in black & white, as it came through the haze in the air, that light was so impactful.
“The backdrop was a big, burgundy, velvet curtain. It was so powerful and really emphasized Nicole and the band’s vintage look. The same goes for the flooring. It was a polished, good old 80s tan, with colorful squares. I really loved that, too, because it opened up the room.”
Ahead of the performance, Devyn found herself in an even more intimate moment with Nicole, with an opportunity to create some posed portraits.
“It was a chance to interact not only with Nicole, but my mentor Kevin, as he was working. I was so excited to see him do his thing,” Devyn effuses. “There was even a moment when he gave me his external flash. He handed it to me with a little bit of an idea where to go but left me the space to bring my own creativity. The photo turned out very cool. So, the time with Nicole was amazing – especially because I got to see it from the perspective of this high-level creative.”
Before long, the singer joined her band on stage to perform a few recent numbers. While the electricity of her performance touched everyone in the room, it was the quieter moments in which Devyn discovered true magic.
“Her switchback was very cool,” she says. “Every artist will start, then something happens, so they have to stop and start back over – and each one has their own take on it. Nicole would smile, tell a joke, but as soon as action was called again, she was right back in it. It was amazing to see that professionalism alongside the personal half of the artist. I saw these glimpses of her human nature and felt I could really connect with her on that level.”
Documenting these moments required a considered approach. Neither style nor substance make for compelling images in isolation. Already engaged firmly with the latter, Devyn began to craft her frames.
“I was down on the floor a lot. At that angle, I got a lot of expression from Nicole, and then the band as a whole. Their emotion was coming up from the bottom of their feet right up to their faces. That was my main perspective.
“I did try to get as close as possible, without being in the view of other cameras, and was able to find some emptier spaces. That’s what helped me, alongside a decent-sized lens.
“Aperture was one of the few things I adjusted on the camera, during the session. It was shaping the images and letting me highlight Nicole fully. I could darken the background slightly and have Nicole shining in the lit foreground – leaping out of the frame.”
While the particulars of Devyn’s subjects are often secondary to the fact that they are simply a fellow human being, the artist did find that Nicole Atkins offered a uniquely personal appeal. As a musician herself, and the proud daughter to a gospel singing father, the performance combined several loves for Devyn.
“Nicole was so open in her performance. It could have been dedicated to anyone in her mind, but for those of us in the room, it felt like a personal connection. That was the element that spoke to me. Even if I got an imperfect photo, I felt OK, because I was in a good space,” Devyn admits. “The music was moving me, and I was able to take pictures of all that expression. It’s a universal language. It translates to anybody.”
As a true student of storytelling, this young creative couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons she received. This experience has shaped her image making indelibly and, looking ahead, she’s enthused to put them into practice in the future.
“On my old camera, I often used preset modes. When I started using X-T4, I was amazed by the design. You have all this control at the push of a button or turn of a dial. That command is everything. I made these photos, not a preset, and that’s what I’m most proud of.
“The whole experience has shown me there’s more to learn,” Devyn concludes. “I’ve photographed indoors, and experimented with lighting, but I haven’t used my flash in a long time. It’s something I’d love to bring back in a more knowledgeable way, and with better equipment. Seeing how good the results can be without those additions, during the Artists Den performance, made me so happy. But seeing the different type of lighting set-up they had there made me hungry to bring those added layers back. Connection will always be important to me, but I also want the photos to look good. I want to know how to use all the tools available to bring my vision to life.”
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