This month’s featured f/22 photographer is Evan Prince. Evan is a photographer I met last summer while in Missoula, and he now resides in his beloved Austin, Texas. It was great to get to know Evan as the areas of photography we focus on is quite different. Evan enjoys the lights of the studio, while I prefer the natural light. Needless to say when getting to know other photographers you start to learn some of their techniques and embrace a bit of their style in your own work over time letting you grow as a photographer.
How long have you been photographing, and what got you started?
I got involved in photography when I was 16 years old. In high school I needed to choose a fine art elective and based on a friend’s recommendation, I went with photography. It was a pretty basic photo course based around darkroom printing. We didn’t really have assignments, but we were encouraged to photograph anything we liked and I think that freedom was pretty attractive to me since almost every other class you take in high school is forced upon you.
What is the current focus of your photography and where do you want to see it going in the future?
Currently most of my work is editorial portraiture. I’ve gotten a taste for commercial work and I would really like to get more involved in it. Sometimes editorial assignments are really run-and-gun. You show up and have to quickly scout the location and then sometimes you only have half an hour ( or less ) with the subject. It can be exciting but it’s definitely hectic. Commercial work allows you to be more of a perfectionist and it is also more collaborative. You work with a stylist, hair and make up artist, models, assistants, etc. so it becomes a team production and everyone contributes to the final images. I should also mention that commercial jobs have much higher budgets and everyone earns more which is nice when you aren’t booking as many jobs as you’d like.
In the past year you have helped out all over Texas as an assistant on photo shoots. What have you learned from assisting photographers on location, and how would you suggest people interested in assisting find photographers willing to bring an assistant to a shoot?
When I moved back to Austin from Missoula I thought of assisting as a natural continuation of my photo education as well as a source of income while I was trying to book my own jobs. One thing about assisting is that it can mean a lot of different things. Some photographers want you to be really hands on while others want you to set up and then leave them alone until the shoot is over. It’s nice to work repeatedly with a few photographers and develop a relationship with them so you know exactly what they expect from you on set. It can be a great learning experience watching how other photographers light scenes or interact with subjects and I’ve had a chance to work as an assistant on editorial, commercial, fashion and stock shoots so I’ve seen the photo industry from a lot of different angles. Some of the most important things I’ve learned however are the little aspects of a photo shoot that you don’t learn in school. Like how to work with an Art Director, how to book models or stylists, how to prepare for shoots, how to deal with egos, and how to get your equipment from your studio to a set in another city. I’ve been lucky to work with some great photographers in Austin who have taught me a lot about professionalism as well as teaching me that each photographer has his/her own way of doing things. I have been fortunate to work with guys like Randal Ford, Brent Humphreys and Matt Lankes among others who all make great images but shoot in very different ways, using different equipment. I’ve also learned that not all photography goes on in New York or Los Angeles. as I’ve done jobs in such unglamorous locations as Pampa, Elgin, and Waco, Texas. Being persistent is also very important since most people go with assistants they know and can trust so you have to work your way up. Most of the people I work with now I had to call/email every couple of weeks before they gave me a shot and that’s because their normal guys were unavailable. Just stay after it and make sure that everyone knows you’re still out there and interested in working for them. The most important thing about assisting however is to remember that you’re goal is to become a pro photographer not a pro assistant. Make sure you have time for your own projects or assignments and continue your growth as a photographer so that one day you’ll be the one teaching your own assistant.
With the focus of your work being portraits do you find that you enjoy working in your studio more, or to be out creating environmental portraits in the subject’s natural surroundings?
Working in a studio is nice because it’s very controlled. All your equipment is there, you can control the environment, you know that you’ll be able to work there and get the job done. However, I definitely like working on location too. It can be very challenging if you are headed into a location that you haven’t scouted beforehand and you don’t know if there are power outlets, if there will be space for lights, of if there will be a place to shoot which looks good. The truth is that I like both. Photographing a person in their own environment can create a compelling portrait but taking someone out of their surroundings and shooting them against a back drop can be just as interesting (just ask Richard Avedon).
In looking at your images I notice a style in the studio work, is this something you continue to carry on or do you just find it comes natural with your subjects and the thought of how the images will be used?
As far as style is concerned, I think in my case it comes from experimentation and creativity. For me it’s always changing as I come up with new ideas or am influenced by new photographers’ works. I like to experiment and try lighting portraits in new ways but I know that I can always fall back on everything I’ve learned or tried before in order to make an image. I should also say that my style is somewhat unconscious. I do like to plan shoots in advance but at the same time I take pictures a certain way because that’s how I’ve learned to do it and when I’m working quickly I fall back on what I know and can count on.
Do you have any personal projects you are currently working on with your work and what was the thought process behind selecting these projects?
The big project I’m working on now is getting my portfolio printed. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I’m always tinkering with the images I want to put in so now I’ve just given myself a deadline to get it printed otherwise I’ll go back and forth on it forever.
What photographers do you follow on a regular basis, and what about their work inspires you?
I follow a LOT of photographers. I’m a big fan of looking at other photographers work. I think it influences you and can motivate you during uncreative periods. It’s also an a great way to see what other photographers have done before you and what kind of images are/were popular during a given period. I check out any photo book I can from the library as well as looking at a lot of websites and magazines. I definitely look at the blogs/websites of other RMSP grads as well as all the guys that I assist for but on a more national level some of the people who’s work I really like would include Dan Winters, Chris McPherson, Jeff Lipsky, Platon, Mark Seliger, Norman Jean Roy, Matthew Rolston, Peggy Sirota, Michael O’Brien, and Peter Yang. This list could really go on and on but I think everyone gets the idea that I look at a lot of other people’s work.
Is there any one lesson you have learned while pursuing a career in photography which others can learn from as well?
The main lessons I’ve learned are you have to be persistent. You have to keep calling people, putting your work in front of them, improving your work etc. I’ve recently become very goal oriented. Instead of just saying I want to work more I come up with specific goals that I want to accomplish that way I can always be sure I’m working towards that goal and not just spinning my wheels. The other thing I would stress is know what you want to do, that way you don’t waste any time. If you want to shoot fashion don’t waste time showing your portfolio to a lifestyle magazine. If you can be specific about want you want to do then it will be easier to work towards that goal and you’ll see results a lot faster. Don’t get disappointed, just keep working and things will start to go your way.
Some of Evan’s Work
Thank you Evan for taking time and being the f/22 photographer for this month. You may checkout more of Evan’s work by following the links below.
Look for another f/22 profile in October.