May 2017 Member of the Month
Benedict EvansMay 4, 2017
All images © Benedict Evans
Benedict Evans is an English photographer based in Brooklyn, New York City. His work, primarily portraiture, appears regularly in magazines such as New York, Esquire, ESPN, Out, and The Guardian Weekend. He has shot advertising projects for the likes of Budweiser and Cadillac, and has won numerous awards for his work, including being selected as one of PDN’s 30 Photographers to Watch in 2017.
PHOTO+ Group: What made you first decide you were going to be a photographer?
Benedict Evans: I think there a few moments throughout my life I could probably point to that have lead to me deciding to take photography seriously. Before I was in my teens, living for a few years in the Pacific Northwest, I used to have after school “lessons” with a real-life crazy scientist at his house in the woods, and he taught me the fundamentals of photography when I was very young. We built a pinhole camera from scratch, took portraits of each other, and processed and printed them in his darkroom which he’d also built. Then later, when I was nineteen, I studied filmmaking in New York for a few months – a few of the most exciting months of my life at that point – and when I went back to England to study literature at University, I began taking pictures more keenly as practice for cinematography, but then the stills gradually took over as my main interest. Finally, after photographing all kinds of things for a while, I was drawn to photographing people because of how difficult, and rewarding, I figured it was to make an arresting portrait of another person, and as I began to realize that the resulting photograph could be a product of the way the subject and I had interacted, and the access to people and conversations that portraiture could potentially give me.
PHOTO+ Group: What do you primarily photograph?
B.E.: People. Preferably people with a story to tell.
PHOTO+ Group: What is your favorite lens to shoot with?
B.E.: I would say my most frequently-used focal lengths on the 35mm format are 35mm and 85mm (or 45mm & 120mm in medium format), the former for environmental portraits and the latter for tighter portraits. That’s not set in stone, though.
PHOTO+ Group: Do you still shoot with film?
B.E.: I don’t.
PHOTO+ Group: Who are your greatest influences in the art world?
B.E.: Imagine my answer to that would vary quite dramatically from day to day, but (today) I love the portraiture of Jean-Fraçois Millet and Théodore Géricault, the music of Tom Waits, Prince, and Miles Davis, the cinematography of Anthony Dodd Mantle, Gökhan Tiryaki, and Gianni di Venanzo, the buildings of Oscar Niemeyer, John Lautner, and Le Corbusier, and photographically, aside from the canon (Penn, Avedon, Weston, Ritts, Watson, etc.), I love the work of many people working today such as Nadav Kander, Erik Madigan Heck, Ryan Pfluger, and Billy & Hells… among others.
PHOTO+ Group: Do you do anything before a shoot to prepare yourself?
B.E.: Over the day or so before a shoot I charge my batteries, literally and figuratively, and once everything is set up, I tend to kind of sit and think for a bit, clear my mind, and concentrate both on what I’m going to try to do, and on staying observant, focused, and open to the unexpected.
See more of Benedict’s work here: www.benedictevans.com.