Photo: Alex Richard
Los Angeles is famous for the glitz and glam of Hollywood, as well as the famous people who walk its streets. However, it is no secret that LA is also home to ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Take Evan Parsons, for example. He was once like any other bored and unemployed 20-something Canadian, with a mountain of student debt, until a seemingly mundane activity changed his life. He spent some time walking around the city and photographing anything that caught his attention with his girlfriend’s old Nikon, which eventually became a daily pastime until he developed a distinct style. He began posting his images online, and it didn’t take long for Hollywood production companies to notice Parsons and inquire about working in the world’s film capital.
Today, Evan is a photographer at Park Pictures, one of the finest advertising firms in Los Angeles. He photographs actors, musicians, athletes, and models for promotional campaigns for companies like Delta Airlines, Apple, Google, and Audi.
Despite his busy schedule, Evan finds time to work on personal projects that help him gain popularity and opportunities in the industry. His works have been compared to William Eggleston’s, Stephen Shore’s, and Alec Soth’s and featured in galleries in the United States and Italy.
Evan Parsons attributes his success to his willingness to try new things, as well as a lot of luck and, of course, Instagram and its algorithm.
How did you turn a simple hobby into a career?
EP: At the time, it wasn’t about getting money; it was just something I enjoyed doing. I began photographing whatever I pleased and uploading it to Instagram. Over time, I realized I had established my own style, and people started following me and purchasing prints. This led to my first job, photographing behind-the-scenes on a little independent film called “Anthem of a Teenage Prophet,” starring Juliette Lewis. And so my professional photography career began.
My work in the film industry eventually led to advertising, while my personal shots on Instagram were still getting traction. Some of the world’s largest production houses film in Vancouver, and the relationships I built there led me onto numerous big sets to capture images. I began meeting a lot of folks from some of the major commercial production businesses worldwide. Eventually, one of the largest and most prestigious companies, Park Pictures, enjoyed my work so much that they invited me to Los Angeles.
What made you decide to move to LA?
EP: Moving to Los Angeles and becoming a photographer seemed like a distant, unachievable goal while I lived in Canada. It was a strange set of events that brought me to LA. For many years, I was too terrified to say yes when someone presented me with possibilities. I decided one day to quit saying “no” despite how afraid or nervous I was about something.
It was so easy to tell myself, “You’ve never done anything like this. You’re going to fail.” But after I stopped saying “no,” I realized that no one wants you to be perfect. They hired you because of your personal style. Everyone is thrilled if you just accept it confidently and do the greatest job you can with your distinctive flair.
Fake it until you make it. I’ve spoken with many more successful people than myself, and they all agree on this point.
How is social media helping you further achieve your goals?
As an artist, it can be difficult to tell whether your work resonates with people. It’s similar to being an actor in that you must perform in front of people and observe their reactions to see if you’re doing a good job.
In this light, I saw social media as a tool for honing skills I already knew I possessed while also drawing attention to my work, eventually leading to a rewarding career.
At the end of the day, I still use social media as a personal art gallery where I can see what resonates with people and what doesn’t in real-time.
What are your future plans?
EP: I’m working on a personal top-secret photo project that will be turned into a book soon, and I’m continuing to renew my contract with Park Pictures.
The big goal would be to end up in a gallery like the Museum of Modern Art. Is that too much to hope for? Maybe. But I’m going to give it a shot nonetheless.
For more information on Evan Parsons, visit his official website and follow him on Instagram.