Baker & Evans
What are your backgrounds and how did you get into photography?
Brendan Baker (BB): I grew up in the countryside near a town called Ipswich in the east of England. It doesn’t have much going for it apart from a half-decent football team. I’d spend as much time as I could out skateboarding with friends and that’s pretty much what got me in to photography. I was always more interested in the videos and magazines that were more aesthetically-driven, where the stills or footage were more considered and not so much about the trick but the image as a whole. Our little crew used to film skate videos and I’d use the ‘still’ button on my beat-up video camera to shoot photos that made their way into the final edit. That sufficed until I was a bit older and took a photography course at college and got my first proper stills camera.
Daniel Evans (DE): I grew up on the outskirts of Liverpool in a small town and spend my childhood & teenage years going and exploring places I shouldn’t have been, this is what I guess first got me into photography as I would always take my tiny digital snappy camera with me and photograph my mates climbing into abandoned buildings and making fires.
How and when did you decide to start Baker & Evans?
BB&DE: It was while we were living in the same house during the last year of university in 2011. We both had pretty similar interests in terms of photography, and spent a lot of time there just messing around and shooting, building things and generally being a nuisance to our house-mates. One evening we decided to cover the whole living room with tin-foil, for no particular reason other than curiosity. But it was because of this kind of ‘productivity’ that we decided to work on our final university project as a duo, which later became Moronic. The series was well received, and it ended up being exhibited in a few great galleries and won us a couple of awards, which is far more than we ever expected. So it was down to this that we decided to have a crack at a another project and continue working as a duo.
Could you describe the design philosophy of your company?
Do you have a specific creating process? How do you normally take on new projects?
BB&DE: It varies from project to project, depending on various factors, like time-frame, scale of production, etc. But generally we’ll be approached with a brief, which we then spend a day or so looking at and dissecting to see what would be involved. More often than not the client has a certain direction that they want the project to go in, and this acts as a little springboard for us take their idea further. So we spend another couple of days on research, drawing influence from all over the place and sometimes doing a few tests in the studio. We don’t really like to repeat ourselves too much, so if the client wants something like what we’ve shot previously then we still try to push it a little bit more, add a little something else to it so that we avoid standing still.
What main components make a good still life shot?
BB: I like the deceptively simple. When something minimal has been done for maximum effect, or there’s a narrative of sorts that just makes you second guess. I’m not so fussed about the technology side of things.
DE: Good product is a must, something that makes you excited and challenges your way of thinking.
What drives you to create, and how do you stay motivated over time?
BB: That’s quite a hard one to pin down, but I think maybe it’s the experimentation, the constant ‘what if…?’ When there’s the two of you it’s fairly easy to stay motivated; one of us might be hyped on something we’ve seen or read or heard, and then we just sort of bounce off each other from there. Hearing other people talk about their work can often be a great motivator too.
DE: Being excited by what we make and always wanting to push it further, there is no such thing as a finished image in my opinion, there is always more you can do to make it better.
How do you keep a good life/work balance?
BB&DE: We’ve got a pretty good routine going, we both get to the studio 9am everyday and when possible we try to keep weekends free. This keeps things pretty balanced, so there’s not too many of those occasions where you’re still working at 2am. It’s good to switch off every now and then.
What are your influences and how does it affect your work?
BB: We had Jason Evans as a tutor in our first year of university, and he has remained a big influence for me. He changed my perception of what constitutes a photograph. I find his whole approach, especially to commissioned work, really refreshing and constantly inspiring. Just mad little things like shooting Thom Yorke in the back of a lorry with only his bike light or using a carpet shop as the location for a fashion editorial. Genius.
Do you have a dream project?
BB: Cataloguing the sculpture department of the V&A would be sweet, where we could shoot the statues however we liked. Slight logistical nightmare but it would totally be worth it.
DE: Documenting the inside of a space station.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
BB: I still like to skate whenever I can, before my body refuses to do it anymore. Other than that, good food and drink with mates or hanging out with my girlfriend and our dog.
DE: Eating steak and drinking wine.
Tell us something important you have learned.
BB: Always back up.
DE: When starting up, keep an open mind.
If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?
BB: Professional footballer, of course. But failing that, working with my hands in some way, some sort of craftsmanship like building bike frames or something like that.
DE: Deep sea fisherman.
BB: Paint the studio floor…and maybe take a little break, travel a little bit and give some time to some new personal work.
DE: Keep doing what we are doing! It’s early days.
View all of Baker & Evans’ work.