Today’s interview comes from the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and features an extraordinarily talented Photographer named Evan Wade Smith. The beauty of the world and Evan’s keen eye for capturing moments have provided the perfect formula for his inspirational photography. Evan, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. It’s not every day we get a behind the scenes view of someone with such skill and passion.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I grew up in southern California and spent much of my life there. The last several years there were spent living on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains near Mt Whitney where my brother and I managed our family’s fishing and hiking resort. It is during those years in the mountains that I first started taking photos with a cheap digital camera and really started to fall in love with it. I moved east 5 years ago to be closer to my niece in Philadelphia and landed in New Hampshire because I need mountains and New Hampshire has the best there are east of the Rockies. My day job is as an ultrasound tech in vascular surgery at Dartmouth Hitchcock.
Where do you call home?
There is a lot I miss about California and the Sierra Nevadas are my spiritual place near and dear to my heart but I very much feel like my home is here in New England. Most of my family migrated here which helps make it feel like home. The pace, beauty, and values of New Englanders really resonates with me.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught? And what has been the best source of information along this journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
I am self-taught. Up until about 7 months ago, I was pretty much a casual iPhone photographer. I just liked framing and capturing light a certain way which my Instagram followers seemed to enjoy. After constant requests for prints and rooting me on to take it to the next level I gave in and bought a real camera and lens. There is so much to learn and I’ve got to say the internet is a great place to do that.
Are you satisfied with your choice of getting involved with this industry? Is there anything else you would rather be doing?
Absolutely! I love taking photos. I do not make money from my photography (yet) but I could see myself doing this as a profession. I just shot my first wedding two weeks ago successfully by myself with one camera body and two lenses. It was terrifying yet exciting. I know I was not well equipped but it was a friends wedding and it was small so the pressure was not high. I had a blast with it, learned a ton, and could definitely see myself dabbling in that industry. I also did some portrait work for a lawyer which, again, was highly educational and fun. I have a ton of passions but photography is way up top. I wish and hope I could it full time.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I’m not sure what you mean by session but I more than anything love to just drive around aimlessly looking for beauty. There is inspiration everywhere and I love just making myself available to it by never being without my camera and being out in the world as often as I can.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
Sharing my work and having it well received. I love inspiring people. I love making people feel good things when they look at one of my images. Like most artists, I want to elicit an emotional response. A positive one that makes people love this world we live in. When someone comments on how beautiful a scene is it just makes me so happy.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Obtaining the gear I want to photograph the way I want. This is an EXPENSIVE hobby!
What do you do to keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated?
To keep it fresh I just keep on trying new things. There are so many different styles and genres of photography and not to mention so many different places and types of scenery and subjects I can’t imagine ever getting bored. I want to do star photography, portraits, wedding stuff, landscape, hyperrealistic stuff, highly edited art pieces, photojournalism, wildlife…..you name it and I want to do it. I don’t want to have a “style”. I want my entire collection to be diverse and creative. Like if you took all of my photos and laid them out into a big mosaic I wouldn’t want it to look homogenous at all.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
Some of my biggest inspirations have been musicians. Something I love as much as photography is music. George Winston is a huge influence on me. His piano pieces are just so so good and my piano playing very much sounds like his. Andy Mckee the finger-style guitar player inspired me to pick up guitar which has been an amazing journey and another great creative outlet for me. As far as photographers I’d have to say Chris Burkard. He has my dream job. He sheds light on important issues, captures stunning photos from around the world, has fun doing it (he’s an adventure photographer), makes interesting documentaries, and goes to great lengths for great shots. He’s my photography hero.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I love time-lapse photography. A lot. I love capturing a sunset or sunrise then setting it to music. Seeing the movement of the clouds and light sped up makes the world seem so alive and really changes perspective on the movement of the earth. My first-time lapse was sunrise on a lake in NH. I set the camera up at about 4 am, camped out in my SUV, and waited. I was so impressed by what I had captured I’ve been addicted to it ever since. That was a special morning for me. Another favorite was a time the light was PERFECT, the fall colors were PERFECT, and this hot air balloon came drifting by overhead only about 50 feet up and then proceeded to float and hang right over the Connecticut River in some of the most PERFECT picturesque scenery. One of the most perfectly framed shots I’ve EVER experienced. I was chasing this thing on foot through tick-infested tall grass snapping like a wild man loving what I was seeing through the viewfinder. After several minutes of this, I noticed something terrible. That I didn’t have a MEMORY CARD IN MY CAMERA. This was in the early days of my learning but boy did I learn that lesson the hard way. This was a memorable moment for me because it’s a hilarious blunder but it also helped me come to terms with very real feelings of missing out. Photography is like that. Sometimes your timing is off, you miss the shot, the weather doesn’t cooperate, the gear fails, or the photographer fails. And it can be a bummer when it happens. But it’s okay…..there will be other beautiful moments to capture. That was a constant struggle for me and I learned a valuable lesson that day.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I want them to feel alive and in awe at the beauty that surrounds us.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I have a Sony A7Rii and shoot with a G Master 24-70mm f2.8 GM. That’s all I’ve been able to afford. I’m trying to get photography gigs and sell prints to raise money for another body and other lenses. I also do some drone photography with a DJI Mavic Pro
What is your favorite photography accessory?
I don’t have many but I like the apps my Sony camera has and being able to operate my camera from my phone.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I really want a 70-200mm lens. I also want to upgrade my drone.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
I use Photoshop to get rid of things I just can’t shoot around. Lightroom is also a must have for me. I may be wrong here but I doubt there is a photographer in the industry that doesn’t touch their photos. The combination of shooting in RAW and having Lightroom to fix things up allows me to take more photos in the field without taking a ton of time to tinker with settings. Either way, you look at it its time spent. I have found that I end up with more good photos if I cast my net wide by taking lots of photos and post processing than not sweating over settings in the field. That’s just me.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
I finally took a photo that had what I thought was the “it factor”. You know that type of photo that really looks professional. This was not long ago…maybe 2 months ago or so after months of playing with this fancy camera. I was pretty excited about it. I’ve been able to capture quality images ever since. It’s like I finally got to know my manual settings. Then Instagram accounts with large followings started sharing my photos. What a feeling!
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
So so many! I really want to get into portrait work, working with models both in a studio environment and outdoors, wildlife photography, macro, staged artsy stuff. I honestly want to try it all.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Absolutely! The desire to capture moments and places is deeply ingrained in who I am.