Elinor Kry discusses visual artistry in a visual world

A girl wearing a black shirt holds a camera at her side while posing in a sandy outdoor area.

Elinor Kry received her first camera in fifth grade, a gray Sony digital picked out by her dad from a Black Friday sale. She took the camera on a trip to Japan that winter, during which she learned the fun in capturing scenery and moments abroad. These vacation photos were followed by a series of self-portraits taken at home, showing years of skill which now comprise the emotive, cool-toned artistry of her current portfolio.

This semester, the Tisch sophomore works as a visual intern for the global media brand Highsnobiety, and she previously was a photo intern for Document Journal. Her personal and professional work have led her to work with musical artists such as Kelela, Madison Beer, Lil Yachty, The Japanese House and Brynn Cartelli and companies such as The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Apple Music and Chrome Hearts.

For Kry, photography has always been a personal endeavor driven by her passion for the craft. At age 13, she shot Billie Eilish’s set at Outside Lands, having connected with the artist’s manager. During the pandemic, Kry began working with creative director Amber Park, the company develops artwork for artists such as Offset, Gunna and 070 Shake.

“I told my mom the next day, and I was like, ‘this woman wants me to come down for a music video in LA, and we live six hours away,’” Kry said. “And my mom was like, ‘what did you just do? Oh my god.’”

Kry notes a 2021 short film shot for Apple Music for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month under Park, “Unapologetically Asian,” as another driver behind one of her current goals in photography — exploring her heritage and identity. Kry also credits her photography and imaging classes at NYU — specifically the analog photography class she took in her first semester — as a strong factor in orienting her creative compass.

“[My professor] really pushed: ‘What is the meaning behind the project?’” Kry said. “For her, it was all about the story.”

Exploring her own story has been both a personal and professional mission for Kry, who is Cambodian-American and Vietnamese.

“My parents are very removed from their Asian heritage,” Kry said. “They both came here when they were really young, so I’ve always been removed from all that stuff. We never lived around family.”

In 2023, Kry conducted a series for Document Journal that chronicles the experiences of Asian-American college students in New York City through a series of portraits and interviews inspired by her own experiences and the distance she felt from her peers.

Kry aims to create her work based on candid reflections of her emotions. Her personal project, “I really tried in my head,” was a turning point in how she visualized her future with photography.

“It was about this guy I liked, and I never told him that I liked him,” said Kry. “I was so distraught over it, I made a shoot about it.”

After three months of planning and production, Kry found herself with her favorite project yet, which was displayed in Mi Casa Studios.

“That was my ‘aha’ moment,” Kry said. “I could turn my struggles and pain into real imagery that could translate.”

Kry believes her photos come out best when she has an emotional investment in their creation. But how can this sense of connection be maintained in an industry that prioritizes personal image over the photographers?

Kry herself is somewhat disaffiliated from her content, possessing no personal Instagram account and utilizing her photography account solely for her career. While practicing her craft in New York City has given her opportunities and connections within NYU and beyond, she believes there is an inherent pressure that comes with working as a photographer in a competitive city.

“How can we create a healthy environment for artists — where social media is supposed to be some sort of community — when it’s at the same time a culprit to make us all follow trends and aesthetics, where we compare each other?” said Kry. “Can it be a place where we can share our stories?”

In the end, however, Kry strives to connect with her culture and inner self through her art, which makes each piece she produces feel personal and genuine.

Kry looks to gain more experience in the realms of music, fashion and culture during her remaining time at NYU. She jokes that financial stability is her final goal, but looks forward to taking a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam post-graduation in addition to embarking on further projects and campaigns.

“When I started my freshman year, it was really like this whole coming-of-age identity thing,” Kry said. “As you’re 18, 19, 20, that’s when you’re figuring out who you really are. So I guess I’m still exploring what that looks like for me.”

Contact Eleanor Jacobs at arts@nyunews.com.

This story Elinor Kry discusses visual artistry in a visual world appeared first on Washington Square News.

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