Feb 19, 2010

An Interview With Alan Evans

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Since joining Americymru Alan Evans has contributed many interesting and provocative discussions, video clips and photographs. Today we thought our members would like to learn more about him and his photography. We’ll have to leave his many other interests for a later discussion.

Americymru: Were you always interested in photography? What other interests do you have?

Alan: I was given my first camera as a Christmas present when I was about nine years of age. Photography always interested me and seemed like a glamourous occupation. I was always experimenting but lacked the formal training. At forty I enrolled on a BA honours photography course at art college. I was still using film and the digital revolution was about to take off. The formal learning gave me more confidence and established a clearer identification of what my work was about. I have many other interests including sport, early childhood education and cookery.

Americymru: What factors influenced you to become a photographer and chronicler of people and places? Have you always had an interest in photography? How did you prepare yourself to enter the profession?

Alan: I always admired the work of French photographer Robert Doiseneau and saw his work as a benchmark to aim for. People have always interested me and I have found myself chatting to people from all walks of life. I believe that the social interaction is an important part in the process of photographing people. When the subject has relaxed you get a truer representation of the personality. I guess my preparation is based in my upbringing, one of four brothers brought up on a large working class council estate in Llanelli. There really was no place to hide and you had to deal with all sorts of life issues.

Americymru: Do you have a favorite subject matter? Why do you like shooting this type of subject? My favourite subject mater is people.

Alan: I find the human face fascinating. Everyone is equal but different. The human face can provide so much information about life itself. I love shooting portraiture because it allows me to look very closely at a fellow human being. I feel like a scientist observing the subject matter.

Americymru: What is your favorite medium, digital or film and why? Do you shoot in both?

Alan: I love shooting with film because it slows the process down. You have to think a lot more about the fundamentals of photography with a film camera. There is something that challenges your confidence when using film. There is no second chance, delete, re shoot. Everything has to be correct so you go through the technicalities over and over again. I still use film but the demand to provide images within minutes to a client means that it becoming unrealistic to use film. I tend to take digital and film only using film when things have settled down.

Americymru: What is your opinion of photo enhancement programs as a photographer? As an artist?

Alan: I am very snobby about photo enhancement. My bleief is that if you can't shoot it in camera then you're not up to it. I have not really got into photo enhancement programmes other than Photoshop for adjusting the curves which is similar to giving the negative more or less time at the development stage.

Americymru: Your portraits are especially appealing to me, that is not to say that your other subjects are not appealing. How do you get your subjects to reveal their inner selves, to you? How do you choose your subjects?

Alan: It takes time and some mutual respect for the subject. I love to chat with people and this is probable a contributing factor to the final image. I will be chatting for a while and then casually raise the camera and start taking photos. I usually keep chatting and the camera seems to become non threatening to the subject. I keep talking whilst taking the photos. Given time the subject drops their guard and you start to see the true personality. I guess it is the same for most people when you meet them for the first time. More often than not the people I photograph are not usually photographed.

Americymru: In addition to portraits and commercial photography, you have exhibited a wide variety of landscapes and seascapes in both area and time. Do you travel to a specific area to shoot landscapes and seascapes or do you just keep your eyes open for a good shot when there? How much of your time is spent on looking for “the shot”?

Alan: I tend to base my landscapes and seascapes around days out with the family. We arrive at a destination and if the light is right, I disappear for most of the day and sometimes most of the evening. we are lucky to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty so wherever we travel, there is going to be some form of landscape to photograph. I would like to spend more time looking for the shot but I am lazy. I prefer to lay on the beach all day. The window of opportunity for landscapes is early morning or dusk.

Americymru: Based on your experience, what advice would you offer to a person who may be considering photography as a career? What do you feel separates the amateur photographer from the professional?

Alan: I would say that you should find an area of photography which really interests you. Improvise with the equipment you have and fine tune your skills in your specialist area. Look at the work of the greats in your specialist area and learn from them. Experiment to a point and accept the limitations of your camera. The amateur takes photographs everywhere the professional sees photographs everywhere but only takes the ones which count.

Americymru: The recognition that all artists seek is to share their art with others, and hope that they will buy your art. Do you have any planned or existing exhibitions? How do you sell photographs which have not been commissioned? Do you have a website where our members can view or buy your work?

Alan: Like all artists I am tortured and suffer for my art. I have a continual lack of confidence in the quality and value of my work. There is a great fear of rejection when exhibiting work. I tend to stay clear of the exhibition space when my work is on display. If someone buys it then this is a bonus. My website is probably my main exhibition space although I have not really promoted my art based photography which tends to be the nude form. This is because my main website is accessed by people of all ages. Ironically it is these images which sell the most. I am passionate about the people and the area in which I live and work. I have a few websites. The Art Based work can be viewed at www.thebeautifulnude.co.uk My main site is www.alanevansphotography.co.uk My work documenting horse racing in Carmarthenshire is on www.ffoslasphotography.com

Americymru: Do you have any final comment for the readers and members of Americymru?

Alan: Keep you camera handy and the sun on your back

Interview by: Howard Evans

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