Artist Daniel Evans, aka DE Form Photography, is a bright newcomer to the erotic photography scene in Portland. Active for just a handful of years, Daniel has already shown work in Mantastic, Angst Gallery’s Celebration of the Male Form, and the Seattle Erotic Arts Fest group shows, just to name a few. His distinctive style primarily showcases the male form using specific materials and a signature palette of lighting to isolate his subjects and create figure studies that verge on meditations of the human form.
Inspired by artists such as Michael Stokes, David Vance and Rick Day, Daniel began his exploration of photography a couple years ago with a visit almost on a whim to the group photo shoot hosted at the Catalyst Sex Positive Place in SE Portland. The group photo shoot at Catalyst is organized by members of the PDX_PHOTO special-interest subcommunity found on FetLife.com (a social platform dedicated to all forms of kink and sexuality). As Daniel tells it, “There was a guy there who wanted to model and all of the other photographers there were only interested in women… So they paired us up because my interest was in men, so that’s where I got my very first photo shoot.”
Since then it’s been a learning process for Daniel — luckily he’s a quick study! First came getting the hang of lighting and the difference a good camera makes. In this regard, Daniel is a PDX_PHOTO success story, because sharing knowledge and experience like this is exactly one of the various purposes for which the group events are meant in the first place! “[The organizer] let me use some of his strobe lights, and I managed to produce photos that were much higher quality and better looking than I thought I was capable of,” Daniel explains.
Then, when he realized he actually liked the results he was getting enough to want to share his work with others, came the realization he needed to be diligent about gathering paperwork such as IDs and releases. Daniel regrets he likely won’t be able to ever display much of his early work because he’s lost touch with many of the people he shot, and he was a little too relaxed about getting written permission from them when he had the chance. Consequently this has become the number one piece of advice Daniel would give any other aspiring erotic photographer. “This is also my most recent frustration, so it’s probably why I bring it up first: In all situations no matter who the model is, collect an ID and have a signed consent form that at the very least shows that you can use these photos and have rights to give other people rights to use these photos — those are absolutely required if you ever want to have your work published or shown online. I approached it too much from a hobby perspective, not really thinking I was ever going to try to use these photos; I didn’t think about that well enough, up front.”
Once he finished work with the proper consent and began to post his images online, friends encouraged him to reach out to Portland-area artist and curator Pablito to participate in the Mantastic group show. Consequently, along with the opportunity to exhibit his work “in real life,” came the necessity to learn the ins and outs of printing. First came the realization that certain shadow details which didn’t show up much on a screen became distinctly problematic in print, so he had to learn how to compensate for that in his images. Then he ran into problems with some of the printers he worked with early on. Some had trouble rendering his dark backgrounds, delivering prints so saturated with ink they literally caused the paper to roll up. Then on top of that came the content issues: some services simply declined to print some of his edgier images, without any explanation or attempt to offer guidelines. After all of this trial and error, Daniel has zeroed in on Bay Photo Lab out of San Francisco as his preferred source for dependable printing services.
Daniel locates his models a variety of ways, ranging from working with his circle of friends, to finding willing candidates via online platforms like Craigslist, FetLife and even Grindr (an online social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people). “I miss Craigslist personals for no other reason than I used to post ‘Hey, do you wanna get high-quality photos of yourself?’ and I’d get people every time, and a lot of my more diverse models … I would find [older men] through CL more than any other avenue… So having that narrow down has been not so pleasant.”
Second only to his job, working on his art photography occupies most of Daniel’s time, and he’s willing to put no small effort into cultivating opportunities. Soon after being bitten by the art bug, he traveled back to his previous home in Utah and arranged an entire kink party for his friends, just so he could incorporate a voluntary photo booth on the side. Recently Daniel foresaw an uptick in his work responsibility looming, so while he still had the time to spare, he decided to take an excursion to Denver solely for the purpose of arranging art shoots. Four sessions came to fruition during his stay. Although he very much looks forward to the results of those shoots, he also ruefully observes that a good many more of his tentative arrangements didn’t materialize; a disappointment he chalks up to simply the nature of erotic photography and of being up front about everything.
Daniel is a software engineer by day, with a passionate belief in the ability of technology to improve society by empowering and liberating its underprivileged segments. “We need to be able to communicate all of ourselves, from sexuality to… Extreme political views in order to help move things in the direction they should move — the internet has been a powerful tool… not all of it is good, but I think generally, it is good.” Safe to say, Daniel’s belief extends to the freedom of artistic self-expression as well, searching for variety in his range of models to work with. “There are models I think… look really good, but I also want to have a diverse portfolio and learn how to make all kinds of men look really good, while still being true to who they really are.”
With that, let’s let Daniel take us on a personal guided tour of the work of DE Form Photography…