This guy is so much fun.
We met Evan Taylor this past summer when he came to Sioux Falls from Mankato, Minnesota, to shoot portraits at OTA15: Sioux Falls. You can check out those smiling faces here. But there is so much joy behind that camera, and we’re excited for you to get to know Evan and see our region and the world around us through his lens. He’s incredibly intelligent, and he’s got a lot of energy to share, too. This photographer will make you smile — not just for the camera, but right along with him.
How can people connect with you?
Facebook (business): Evan Taylor Studios
Where do you live now?
Where do you call home?
Wherever my work takes me.
Give us a behind-the-scenes look at your average day.
I can’t, because there are no two days that are the same, and that’s what I love most about what I do. One week, I’ll be in Northern Africa, the next week, I’ll be in Northern Minnesota.
What projects are you currently working on, both in your career as well as hobbies or passions?
I work with a handful of clients and marketing/advertising agencies, helping them with their visual needs, both photo and video. This allows me to be on many different projects. I’m writing this as I’m flying back from Arizona, where I just teamed up with Capture Marketing, Russell Heeter Photography, and Jared Allen’s Homes For Wounded Warriors, where I photographed a ribbon cutting ceremony for a wounded veteran who was receiving a fully handicap-accessible home from Jared’s Foundation. It’s projects like this one that really make you feel good at the end of your day.
Outside of work, I just bought a house! I’ve been taking pictures of the current layout and style of the rooms and have been using my photoshop skills to “virtually paint” the house — changing the colors of the walls and carpet. I can’t wait to hang my artwork up all around the house!
If you could do any job, what would you do and why?
Before I started my professional career as a photographer, I used to be a surgical assistant for an oral surgeon, and I was also previously employed at a zoo/aquarium, working for the Biology Department/Scuba Operations. (I took care of otters and went scuba diving with all the underwater critters.) I studied many science courses in college — I was pre-med for 7 out of my 8 semesters and have a strong interest in biology and chemistry. So if I had never discovered art and photography, I would have more seriously considered following my father’s footsteps to become an OB/GYN. I also have a passion for teaching and tutoring and could see myself as a professor someday.
What’s your desert island album/book/TV show/movie?
Well, if you figure that most islands in which I have the potential to get stranded on are most likely outside of the English-speaking regions, I would probably have some sort of collection of English-to-All Languages/Rosetta Stone-type Dictionaries as my book. The word “HELP” spelled out in coconuts on the beach is not doing me any good if I’m off the coast of Madagascar. While we’re at it, let’s just throw in The Beatles’ “Help” album just for an ironic laugh. As much as I love the TV show “Friends,” it’s not doing me any good, so let’s make it one of those survivalist TV shows, like “Man vs. Wild.” But let’s be real — I’m stranded on a desert island, and we’re all sitting here assuming there’s going to be a 42” Flatscreen Sony with a DVD player? We’d for sure be missing the HDMI cable … thus, I don’t even know if I should even pick a movie — but on second thought, just give me any DVD, I’m not going to watch it, I’m only going to use the back of it to reflect sunshine to nearby planes.
Since you live in one of the OTA states:
• Why do you choose to live here? I was born in Minnesota, and while I question every December why my ancestors decided to stop here, I absolutely love the change of seasons, all of the lakes, farm/hunting land, and how nice everyone is in the Midwest.
• What is the most beneficial aspect of living in the region when it comes to your career? While my career didn’t force me to live here, I chose to live here on my own — and I think that the flexibility to live where I want to be has allowed for me to be comfortable in my career. When you’re happy, you become passionate. When you’re passionate, you become ambitious, and ambition is what drives your career.
• What’s one thing you would change about the OTA region? I’d build some sort of high-speed light rail so I could get to all corners of the region more easily.
• What’s one thing most people don’t know about the OTA region? Minneapolis is quickly becoming one of the top media outlets in the United States. Businesses and corporations are becoming more fond of areas in the Midwest and are looking to Minneapolis agencies/firms for their advertising/marketing needs. In terms of creative outlets, this region is quickly becoming as reputable as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Where do you think good ideas come from?
Good ideas come from bad ideas — and here’s why. I think many people are afraid or scared that their idea will be “dumb” or “stupid,” but I think everyone could agree that we all come up with dumb and stupid ideas in our head every day. That’s just part of the thinking process, but we are able to filter them out and throw them away before they become too much a part of the plan. You can’t be afraid to go after a thought. The more reclusive you are, the fewer opportunities your imagination will have to run wild. I often find that I think of an idea, crumple it up and throw it away, and continue to do that over and over and over until I find a decent idea. Which then I quickly scramble back to the crumpled up ideas and incorporate pieces of them to make thedecent idea become great. Crumple up certain ideas, but don’t shred them. You’re going to want to be able to make sure you’re able to pull them out of the garbage if necessary, because it’s the pieces of all the different bad ideas that come together to make something great.
What’s one current trend you think will change the world?
Working remotely. I can’t begin to stress how much I love being able to work from my laptop. I’m often on the road or in the sky, traveling for work, and the fact that most of my work is digital makes my productivity so much more accessible for me. I get so much work done on planes. And it’s great, because when I get home, I can take my shoes off and enjoy some time with the people I want to be with. I’m happier because of it.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
“Congrats on getting through the easiest part of your life.”
Who is the most creative person in your life, and why?
Definitely my parents. My mom was an interior designer and is always doing great projects around the house and helping on committees, and my Dad — who works a very logistical, left-brained career and couldn’t draw a stick-figure if he was offered $100 to do it accurately — has one of the most creative, inspiring attitudes I know. He’s always keeping a positive attitude with his patients at the clinic, and I believe health-care bedside manner requires a great deal of social creativity.
Who is the most community-focused person in your life, and how do they impact their communities?
My grandparents. My great-great-great grandfather started one of the first businesses in Mankato back in 1868. From 1868-1992, the store saw a transition from a Horse-and-Buggy Corner General Store to the key shopping center in the heart of town. Through the help of the people around the community, The Brett’s Department Store stayed in business for over 124 years. Now, my grandparents in their 80s, have this incredibly admirable appreciation for the community. They help out where needed and give back to the people who help maintain and enhance the community and marketplace in Southern Minnesota.
At what intersection do you live your life?
I would put myself at one of those weird, 7-way roundabout intersections where Siri gets confused. But to sum it up, Adventure Ave. — Curiosity Ct. — Video Game Nerd Blvd. — Athletic St. — I’ve always been one to adventure — and have been known to just hop on a plane and go. I’ve always had a lot of curiosity, which has led me to learn new things and expand my horizons. It also once caused me to tie my camera and a GPS Tracker to a giant weather balloon and launch into space (upper stratosphere — I was roughly 5,000 feet higher than Felix Baumgartner! Video here). I’m also a huge video game nerd. My ringtone is from The Legend of Zelda, my favorite game is Skyrim, and I could singlehandedly take on any three OTA readers in Super Smash Bros. But when the weather is nice, I like to be athletic. In college, I participated in three sports: track and field, swimming and men’s volleyball. Outside of collegiate sports, I love snowboarding, wakeboarding and surfing.
What’s the best way to put inspiration into action?
Just start producing something. Stop thinking about the process, just produce. It really helps to have like-minded friends, too, to help you make decisions. I often call one of my best friends in the industry, Russell Heeter to help me with important decisions or simply to help get my mind going that day. Although we own our separate businesses, he’s practically like a co-worker. “Hey, Russ, what do you think I should do about this?” “Hey, Russ, which photo do you like better?” “Hey, Russ, can you work on this project with me?” “Hey Russ, you’re awful at Madden.” (Xbox Rivalry).
Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?
I just really hope to leave a sense of creativity for the next wave of creatives. And not just creatives, all kids and youth. I really enjoy mentoring students, because it’s exciting to follow them and see where they end up. I was really excited at the last OTA Event I was at, when I heard OTA gave free admission to regional students.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?
Starting my own business, absolutely. The only thing holding me back was a paycheck. But at the end of the day, if you really think about it, a paycheck is just an envelope with some numbers. It’s what you did to earn those numbers is what’s meaningful and makes you happy.