Interview: Evan Tetreault

Evan Tetreault is a 26-year-old photographer and musician based in Los Angeles, CA. Evan discovered photography in the darkroom at 13 while attending school in Connecticut. He continued to shoot and travel while playing in bands throughout the country, drawing most of his inspiration from New England. Evan began working professionally as a photographer at 18 during his freshman year at Emerson College in Boston, where he would earn his bachelors in photography and advertising in 2014. Evan moved to Los Angeles in the fall of 2014 and continues to live and work there.

Los Angeles

Growing up in rural New England, my impression of Los Angeles (and all of California for that matter) was based off of films and books; a picture-perfect dream of a landscape, coated with a golden haze of idealism. This ongoing series is my attempt to depict the city through that vision; the blissfully ignorant picture one paints of a place or person before reality taints it/them. The less you know the better…

Thanks for taking the time to do this man.
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Ay! Course dude. What’s happening?

Not a ton man. I thought it’d be cool to interview you because not only is the work fantastic but I feel like LA is one of those cities that a lot of people consider moving to, myself included at the moment. Some people jive with it, some don’t. You seem like you’re jiving with it. When did you move there?
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I’m glad you dig it. It’s been just over 4 years now. It’s not that I jive with it 100% of the time (especially coming from the East Coast), but I’ve found my peace with the city; places I like to frequent and explore, people I can safely call my best friends. But I’m always curious to see more and romanticize LA in the way I used to see it before I ever visited or at least portray it as such.

Oh, that’s interesting. Definitely the images have a romanticism and mysticism. You’re saying that’s drawn from how you envisioned this place growing up?
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How I envisioned it and how I feel when I go somewhere for the first time and yet I feel like I’ve been there before in that weird dreamy idealistic way. Feeling nostalgic in a place I’ve never been. I like that feeling. I’m curious about that feeling.

That’s a pretty intriguing take because we all have those mental images of places based on how they’re represented in books, movies, pictures, music etc. I definitely have a version of LA in my head, NY, etc. How much contrast has there been in terms of what you imagined and what you’ve experienced?
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I do this thing whenever I’m in an intense personal moment; whether it’s experiencing anxiety or depression, or in an intensely happy situation, where I sort of take myself out of the situation. I believe it’s called “derealization”. That’s always terrified & inspired me simultaneously. Ever since moving to LA, I’ve gone through some of the best & worst times in my life, learning all along the way. This translates into the photos because they were all taken at moments of this derealization. Taking myself out of the present and capturing a moment from afar, mentally.

‪‭‬‬‬So this project was almost born out of a kind of meditation in these specific moments? Do you always shoot personal work from this place of derealization or is that specific to this project and LA?‬‬‬‬‬‬
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‬I think I’ve always shot personal work from this place. That’s what inspires me in a given moment. I used to have a camera with me at all times with the need to capture anything possible, but I’ve let off in the last few years, learning to let go of that compulsion when living in the moment is more important.
So I’ll still do it, I just have a better sense of myself and when it’s worth pulling the camera out.

That’s real. I’ve had to do the same. I used to think there couldn’t be a moment wasted not trying to capture it on camera, but that can be exhausting, and you stop living a little, and living is important to the work. Experiencing what’s happening in front of you and not always shooting it is important to the work. It’s a relief when you start to realize yourself.

Exactly!

And you’ve developed a pretty distinct style at this point. Was that something you found early on or has that really clicked the past few years?
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I don’t think I was necessarily able to “find” my voice in recent years, but more so to articulate it; search for the root of what inspires me. Not saying I’ve found the root, but things are clearer to me and I know what I like. It’s an ever-changing journey of self-discovery, and cycle of constantly being tested to realize you know nothing. I love every time I learn that lesson again and again. And I like soft light.

The opening image to the series is one of my favorites. It’s dark and vibrant, especially that orange, yet it’s smoggy and hazy, buildings and palm trees stacking against each other in the same scape. Sounds so grim but the image makes me wonder who’s discovering their dreams in the town buried behind those trees and who’s getting killed. I might find a nicer way of saying that last bit when I’m editing.

Haha, it’s exactly right. I’m always thinking about both sides. It’s that curse of “Nothing can be this perfect…where are the flaws?”

I’m also curious about the cars. That’s obviously an important part of the culture of the city for you. What’s important about the connection between the cars and the city?
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I hadn’t seen such a plethora of vintage cars until I got to LA. Because of the weather, things just last longer. From the cars to the signage and storefronts, on a walk I’ll feel like I’m in the 90s one block, then the 60s on another.

So the culture exists there so strongly to begin with that you just found yourself identifying with it. Is it similar to the courts? The basketball images almost give it that NY feel of courts every couple blocks and pickup games everywhere.
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The public courts and parks fascinate me. My favorite artificial light is stadium light. That combined with LA’s haze is so appealing to me. And culturally, the scenes that I capture are so new to me coming from the East Coast.

Where’d you come from on the East Coast again? Was there a culture shock for you when you moved?
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I grew up between Connecticut & Rhode Island. Definitely a culture shock- but a relief from 23 years in New England. First house I moved into was next to a park with a lake, lined with palm trees. I’d walk there for coffee every morning in the winter months, so grateful. But I do need breaks. Luckily work has enabled me to travel and get out fairly frequently.

Have you settled into a part of LA you like?

I’ve settled in Silver Lake and could not be happier. I actually moved to the neighborhood I used to take walks in every night at dusk and shoot.
Nestled up in the hills, feels like you’re far away from the city in a little tree house. But still walking distance from coffee, etc. I’m very happy here.

That kind of reminds me of the interior photo you have in the series.
Kind of a haven. The overlook. Close enough to the action but just far away enough from it. I want to ask you about where that was but I feel like the mystery of where that is it what makes it more special.

The less we know the better because we fill that mystery in with romance and idealism.

Is your last name pronounced “teh-tro”? First time I looked at it I was like “tet-tree-alt” and instantly hated myself.
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Ha‬haha “tay-tro”. That’s the one

I know you’re a music guy too. What are you listening to these days?
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‬I am! I play drums in a band and have a solo project of my own.

Oh let’s plug that. What are the names of those?
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I play in Velour Afternoon and my latest solo stuff is under the name Pijama. Still in its infancy, but I’m very happy about what’s to come. As far as listening goes it’s quite all over the place. Pijama is inspired by ‘60s African Jazz, South American music, samba and other Latin stuff. That combined with French-Moroccan sexiness & scores from French new wave films. If you check out the Instagram @pijama_land it’s hopefully pretty clear.

Perfect. Well that’s dope man, it’ll be interesting to hear that now that I’ve interviewed you about the pics and your LA experience and how it all relates.
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‬‬Appreciate it, dude!

Thank you for taking the time and glad we got to do it.

To view more of Evan’s work please visit his website.



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