Bob Evans Photography
I come from a background of, perhaps one of the most creative professions, engineering. Some may think that this is not such an obvious background for an artist, however, all good engineers know that creating something from nothing gives you tremendous creative rush and oft times you find that the best engineers are frequently very accomplished musicians, artists and in my case, photographers.
I was a relative latecomer to photography although my father was an avid photographer and had a home darkroom when I was younger. I spent my early career working in engineering , designing life sciences equipment and then latterly moving into general management and marketing , or ‘the dark side’ as we engineers like to call it!. During this time my family and I have lived in England, Florida, New York and latterly in Massachusetts. I travel frequently on business and always takes a camera with me as you never know what that perfect image will appear.
During this time as I honed my expertise I found that what could best be loosely described as ‘landscape’ was my metier. Particularly in the abstraction from reality of key elements helped by almost exclusive use of black and white.
An early influence to me was Fay Godwin, a very accomplished English landscape photographer, sadly no longer with us. Her work evokes a deep empathy with the land and her keen eye and technical skill inspired me greatly. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fay_Godwin). One phrase she frequently used was to avoid the “Chocolate Box” shot and this has always stuck with me. What she meant was that boxes of chocolates in England frequently come with a picture of some flowers, garden, lake or similar on them. They don’t tell a story or reveal anything about the landscape or photographer other than that they are ‘pretty’. Most of my work is definitely not ‘pretty’!
Ansel Adams whose images of Yosemite and the American West together with the deep technical knowledge and skill in producing the finished print and treating the entire process as a pre-visualised expression was also an influence. Although, I must say, I do find his work not to my taste.
Bill Brandt and Weegee, where the technical element was secondary to the image and the emotions evoked by them were also very influential in forming my view of the photography medium. Similarly with Cartier Bresson and his ‘decisive moment’, although I have never particularly focused on people photographs, on the occasions I have you can most defiantly see there influences. I should also add that my son thinks that my people photographs are my best work!
I was an early Nikon fan, with my first ‘proper’ camera being an Nikon FM, an excellent manual workhorse that I used extensively. Over the years I’ve had many other cameras. For those ‘decisive moment’ shots I always carried a Minox 35GT, usually loaded with Ilford HP5. For my main camera I rapidly moved beyond 35mm and whilst using film my preferred outfit was a Bronica ETRS and then moved to a Mamiya RB67 and a home made 5x4 field camera.
All of my darkroom work was done at home with a full setup for black and white and colour and many happy hours spent in the darkroom. This background in the craft of photography certainly helped in the transition to digital and I now spend more time in front of the computer then I ever did in the darkroom!.
I now use Nikon digital systems exclusively, currently a D800E and keep an old D100 for Infra Red images, which have always been an interest to me. Perhaps this is driven by the abstraction from reality aspect of my work. Having an eye for an image that would tell a story has been a key guideline that I rigorously apply, no manipulation of the subject is allowed. I strongly believe in taking the subject ‘as-is’ no posing of subjects, moving items etc. While I greatly admire photographers who are expert in that technique, however, for myself, it is capturing the essential essence of the subject matter that is vital.
I have had my work published in the national press in England covering news events as well as having several shows in both the UK and in New York and am Vice President of the Blackstone Valley Art Association.
The key message I would like to leave you with is this: don’t worry about the technical details of a shot, think ‘what do I want to convey’ and compose your image accordingly and, most of all, enjoy your craft!