If you take a simple glance at Evan Tan’s Instagram page, you’ll find both faces unknown and socially glorified yet merged into a collection of photography that radiates an untold story in every subject. There’s a depiction of actuality as Evan finds solace in blemishes and other imperfections of life that cannot be tamed or edited. With this reality facing his lens, Evan Tan still effectively creates vibrancy and fantasy in what life should represent. We got the chance to talk with him about his relationship with 35mm film and elevation through his young life’s work. The result was a moment with an undoubtedly intriguing photographer as he embeds himself in illuminating the lives of his people while balancing his own self-discovery.
What’s up! How was your morning today? Are you one to have a daily routine or just follow how the day takes you?
Hello!! Well, currently I’m at my place of work, a camera store near my house. I work during the week and then during my free time I fill it with doing whatever I want, always shooting in between. Usually, I am always going with the flow; I do not like limiting myself to anything, I keep my life very free and open for unexpected adventures.
As creatives…as human beings, we’re given this open opportunity to choose multiple routes of artistic expression. Why did you choose photography?
I believe that as human beings, we are all divine in our differences, we may not know who we are or what we want, but we have the infinite potential to discover ourselves. I never really liked taking photos or knew that it was what I wanted to do until I tried it and really discovered a part of myself that I could never express before. Photography is an extension of myself, everything is a feeling, a memory, a story.
What’s the relationship like between you and 35mm film?
I have been only shooting 35mm for about two years now; I get my work developed at my work lab and scan all my own film. My relationship with 35mm is humanlike, most of the times we get along perfectly, but sometimes we have our days. Film has so much character, from the light sensitive strips to the chemical development of light into a physical form, the entire process is a tedious work of art.
With all of the work you’ve produced, is it even possible to name one of your favorite projects?
I have shot so many thousands of photos over the years I cannot keep track. The majority of my published work is available on my Instagram, but about half of my work still hasn’t been released. I would say my favorite project would be working with Kali Uchis. She has been a big influence on my artistic style, and I had the pleasure of working with her because she liked my work.
You’re consistently embedding yourself in the lives of other people, but how do you take care of yourself?
It is true I am consistently embedding myself in the lives of other people, but how do you take care of myself you ask? Well, I guess I’m still working on an answer for that question. My focus for my work has always been my subject, and sometimes I feel the same way about my personal life. I am constantly thinking about people all day, that I often put myself and my needs aside. I love people so much; sometimes I forget that I’m a person too.
With creating this illuminated world through photography, is there ever time you deem it necessary to disconnect from it all?
I believe everything has a beginning and an end, but we can never differentiate the two. There have been times where I’ve stopped shooting, and there have been times where I’ve almost deleted everything. I take creative breaks sometimes, and then I binge shoot other days, but I really only shoot when I want to, and that’s how it should be. One day, I will disappear and truly discover this world and all its mysteries. I am an artist, and I will be forever.
What’s next for you? Any goals you feel close you your reach?
Well, I’m 17 right now. I’d like to turn 18, so I can work on photographing and studying the human body. My next goal right now would be to do my first solo gallery and release a photography book of my photos throughout high school. I’m still broke though, currently looking for funding.