Interview with ‘Art of Photography Contest’ Winner

You may remember that storytelling waterfall shot, above, as the winner of our first annual Art of Photography contest sponsored by YPOC. Evan Demianczyk took home both $1,000 cash and a $300 gift certificate to YPOC for that photo of his feet shockingly suspended over a roaring waterfall.

In addition to those prizes, Evan receives a spotlight post about him and his photography. Like most people out there, Evan took up photography as a hobby. In this one-on-one interview, he describes what photography means to him and what he hopes others get out of his work. Enjoy.

Q: Can you please formally introduce yourself to our community?
A: Well, I am from Bensalem, Pennsylvania. It is a large suburb in the southernmost point of Lower Bucks County, and borders parts of Northeast Philadelphia. I was born and raised here, and like most Lower Bucks natives, when I travel, I consider myself a Philadelphian. I recently turned 21 in February, and am finishing my third year of college at Temple University as a Secondary Education major. I want to teach high school English! Yeah, dude!

Q: When did you start taking up photography? How did you get introduced to it?
A: For my whole life, I have been eating, breathing, and drinking skateboarding. I have been subscribed to Transworld Skateboarding since I was in 6th grade, back in 2001. Skateboarding and photography go together like peanut butter and jelly, so looking at photographs in skateboarding magazines is what initially triggered my interest in photography.

One of my best friends Mike McGowan is a photographer, and back in high school he shot skateboarding photos of me and my friends when we traveled to spots, and I thought the stuff he did was amazing. Hanging around Mike is what ultimately got me into photography. Looking at the work of other local skateboarding photographers like Adam Hribar, Keith Morrison, and Alec Holst supported my interest as well. In 10th grade I picked up my first camera. It was a Sony Cybershot.

Q: Your photos range from landscape to portraiture – who are some of your inspirations?
A: In May of 2009, after I completed my first year of college at Temple University, I started keeping a daily photo journal. I am still running this journal. Most days have multiple pictures. It will be two years in about 3 weeks. My life mainly consists of surrounding myself with friends and family, so if they weren't here, these photographs would not have been taken. They are the people I go out and do things with, they are they are the people I travel with, spend my entire days with; they are my life, and my life is my main inspiration. As far as being inspired by other photographers, I really like TJ Proechel, Daniel Shea, and my friend Keith recently showed me Jake Stangel. Sorry Keith, but I'm gonna talk about you…Keith Morrison's work is great.

Q: Is photography a hobby for you or are you pursuing it as your profession?
A: It's just a hobby, really. It's a surprise I even won this contest. I don't think much of my work, so I guess it's cool that some people are into it. I have been shooting on film lately. 8 of the 15 shots are on 35mm. Getting this much attention is different, and I kind of feel uncomfortable talking about myself. I hope I don't sound pretentious; I'm not used to it. Really, I'm just some dude who takes pictures, and was lucky enough to win a contest.

Q: What do you think makes a great shot?
A: This question can be answered in 25 million different ways. I don't really think there is such thing as a “great” shot. I mean, sure, there is a difference between the work one sees of professionals, and the photographs of a 14 year old kid who picks up a camera for the first time and takes “artsy” pictures of trees and close-up pictures of “cool looking” rusty things. I don't know, a great picture is something that is just very original. A great picture is something that is truthful, something that expresses realness.

What is “great” to 2011's most famed photographer may be absolute trash to an 18 year old, who in his/her eyes, takes respectable photographs, but the teenager's photographs may be junk to the big famous person. I had trouble picking photos for this interview. My friend Keith told me to just pick pictures that represented “me.” He's probably the best photographer I know, and his advice was something as simple as that. So, the only bad photograph is a photograph that doesn't come from your heart, that isn't you. Just always be yourself in anything you do. Don't worry about what other people want.

Q: What do you hope viewers will experience from your work?
A: I didn't really have a goal in mind. I hope people think some picture are pretty, I hope some people laugh at some pictures, I hope people get a general sense of my life and my home. All of these pictures were taken in Pennsylvania, with the exception of the waterfall picture (that was in Lambertville, New Jersey). This is the world through my eyes. Welcome to my world. I hope people enjoyed meeting my friends and felt welcomed to the lovely, the one and only, Keystone State.

Q: Finally, any last words?
A: Life affects my photography. A photo is special because it is a working time machine. What happens when I look at an old photo? I feel the nostalgia, I smell the smells, remember the feelings I had at that exact moment. A photo is one moment frozen in time, or several moments captured into one image, but ultimately a moment that will continue to live, even when humans no longer inhabit this place. A photograph brings me back to the places where I wish to be: my utopia. Photographs allow me to realize that I have reached ultimate happiness at a point in my life, because I am too busy living in the moment to realize it.

Without photography, without art, what would I have as such a vivid reminder? Photography allows me to get away from where I am, and go to a place where I actually want to be; photography inspires me to go to that place in the living, waking, real-time moment.

Evan Demianczyk on Flickr

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