Sydney Eick is firmly rooted in the power of an excellent photograph. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an area rich with memories as it is not far from where he grew up. Eick enjoys capturing life’s moments, extraordinary and mundane. He strives to make clients comfortable during photo shoots to ensure quality work, delivering candid shots that are both beautiful and meaningful to clients.
To Sydney Eick, photography is all about shining light on the magical, magnificent parts of life. In many ways, he has mastered how to manipulate light in photography – a part of taking photos that either makes or breaks the quality of the work. He chases that golden hour with his camera, the times of the day when the light is perfect, determining the difference between a good and great photo. Eick is committed to creating the best possible photos for every occasion.
While light is important, Eick acknowledges that capturing magic on film is much more than utilizing light. He believes it is about chemistry – the connection between the people in the photo and the people and him. He strives to know his clients’ stories, providing personable services beyond what most photographers offer to gather the most information possible in regards to bringing out personality and authentic charm.
Eick knows the details that make a person unique and he utilizes that potential and magnifies it in his photographs. Whether you’re looking for the perfect engagement or wedding photos or a family portrait to send to grandma, Eick can snap the perfect shot to cherish for years to come.
Sydney Eick found himself as a professional photographer in an unexpected way. As a child, he never imagined he would become a photographer. Rather, he wanted to become a firefighter, a sports hero or a police officer. His love for photography now has transformed his life, and he can hardly imagine his life without this passion for capturing the perfect photograph. He grew up in Cottage Grove, Minnesota and enjoyed what many would call a “classic childhood.”
Sydney Eick and his family frequently went boating and fishing on the gorgeous lakes, exposing him to the beauty around him, which he often says attributed to his design eye. In middle school, he saved his allowance and money earned mowing lawns to purchase his own kayak, which he used to take out on the lake whenever he wished. He enjoyed active team sports and played baseball when the weather was warm and hockey in the winter. As a young boy, he enjoyed roller blading with friends in the neighborhood.
A sports-craved young man
Sydney Eick is an avid sports fan, particularly for all Minnesota sports such as the Wild, the Twins and the Vikings. Even during disappointing seasons, he remained a faithful fan, cheering on his teams. During the spring of his sophomore year of high school, Eick’s passion for sports was put on hold as he suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament during a pick-up hockey game. That injury ended his dream of pursuing a baseball career, forcing him to discover new passions. While he was disappointed by the injury, he is thankful that the event in his life opened his eyes to photography.
After his injury, he spent most of his time outdoors, kayaking, as the activity did not put additional strain on his injured knee. Under his mother’s counsel, Sydney Eick signed up for a photography class and soon discovered he had a knack for taking pictures. After graduating high school, he fled the cold winters of Minnesota for the mild climate of Savannah, Georgia. He studied photography at Savannah College of Art and Design and harnessed his skills by capturing life and architecture in coastal Georgia.
As an undergraduate, he volunteered at the local newspaper as a photographer, a job that gave him valuable insight into the business. Even though he loved taking pictures in Georgia, he had an itch to meet new people and take pictures of events and places he had never seen or been to, so he pursued study abroad programs and international internships. The longer Sydney Eick studied photography, the more he began focusing on capturing portraits and the intricacies of people and places. He noticed the lines of an old man’s face, the freckles on a little girl’s nose, the sparkle in a woman’s eye and the scraped knee of a little boy. He used these details to tell the hidden stories of people, and he shared these narratives through his photographs of the people he met along his journeys.
Teach for China
After graduating in 2008, he was accepted to join Teach for China. This opportunity thrilled him, especially because his time abroad did not quench his desire for travel but only flourished it. He served two years in a rural village in Yunnan Province in China. There he invested in the lives of villagers who had never met a westerner. He taught children how to ride bicycles and shared his life with these people, enriching his design work as he captured the faces, places and details of the rural village.
China’s Yunnan Province
Life in rural China is hard, but opportunities are great according to Sydney Eick. Teach for China aims to erase that educational inequity and give children in every corner of China the chance to expand their educational opportunities. The organization was established in 2008 and operates as a partnership between the United States and Chinese college graduates. The graduates are used to enter into poverty-stricken and rural Chinese communities to teach students English and subjects that enhance their chances of enrolling in high school and college.
In Yunnan Province, much of the economy is driven by agriculture. Rice is the primary crop, although tea, coffee, dairy and mushrooms are also large production crops. Many of the people living in Yunnan are poor, working incredibly hard for little pay. Children grow up without sufficient resources or quality education, often destined to work in the fields without the opportunity to pursue other paths.
Teach for China supplies children with the opportunity to attend colleges, ending the vicious cycle of poverty. Teachers invest in the lives of the people in their communities, often finding themselves changed by their experiences. American teachers are confronted with their own privilege, an experience that inspires them to contribute in meaningful ways.
Teaching English is often tedious, and there is a lot of challenging material to cover. But Teach for China fellows grasp onto the fact that they are giving students a foundation that will set them up for future success. While some rural Chinese schools begin teaching their students English at an early age, the large number of students makes it easy for some to slip through the cracks.
The leaders at Teach for China believe this is unacceptable, which is why they strive to make a difference. Sydney Eick finds that living in rural China extends the opportunity to celebrate small successes and notice the similarities between those of privilege and those struggling to survive. He documented the candid moments, adding up to one large, incredible adventure shared by numerous Chinese villagers and teachers.
Back home in Minnesota
He delighted in taking their stories back with him to his hometown in Minnesota, where he now works to discover adventure, creative spirits and zest for people in need of photography services. His clients rave about his photo shoot process and his professionalism, as his enthusiasm and drive is evident in each photograph. Sydney Eick says his clients feel comfortable during every photo shoot, making it easy to capture the magic of the moment.
Sydney Eick believes the future of education impacted by Teach for China will continue to make an effort to overcome language barriers as teachers learn non-verbal ways of communicating and picking up on local dialects. He notes that many Chinese individuals are warm and welcoming, even though some of them have not met a foreigner. They are willing to open up their lives and receive American teachers flooding their schools; an effort Eick believes will lead to future success and an end to poverty in various villages.
As teachers work to overcome their own obstacles, they are reminded of the daily struggles their students face, providing them with a renewed perspective on education and opportunity. As Chinese students are changed, so are American teachers. The fellows take what they’ve learned and bring them home to America, further impacting those around them like a ripple effect. The more programs like Teach for China infiltrate areas in order to teach the value of education, the more educators chip away at the harsh cycle of poverty.
The future of photography
Eick is enthusiastic about the future of photography as technology continues to enhance. He believes that more innovation will lead to better quality photos, and in turn, a truer story behind the picture. Eick believes that photography can communicate a deeper message. The more techniques and equipment created the better forms of communication that exist.
For instance, computational photography is in many ways considered the “future of photography.” It employs the method that surpasses the single two-dimensional sensor capturing ability of current digital photography. This new technology records higher quality data sets in building its pictures, demonstrating a process closer to what the eye sees. As the camera has already evolved significantly, Sydney Eick believes the point-of-view and visible capacities will dramatically improve over the years, making the art of photography that much more difficult to learn but satisfying to master.