New York City-based photographer Stan Evans teamed up with photographer and surfer James Katsipis in an effort to tell the photo story of Montauk, the idyllic beach town on the eastern tip of Long Island. Their project, “Real Tauk,” combines some older work with new work, and includes portraits of Montauk residents, local business owners and residents, as well as landscapes. Evans created a PDF of the project, and distributed it via email as a promo. PDN asked Evans and Katsipis, a Montauk local, how the project came together, and what they learned from the experience.
Photo District News: How did you two meet and begin working together?
James Katsipis: We became friends on Instagram. I’m the local surf photographer in Montauk; timing waves and swells is a full-time job that I have been doing for 10 years now. After Stan saw one of my posts asking photographers to make work out of their “comfort zone,” he reached out to me about doing a collaboration on the locals in Montauk.
Stan Evans: [Katsipis] had been making amazing shots time and time again. He called me back but was a bit skeptical of “another NYC photographer trying to cash in on Montauk.” But I told him my idea was about the amazing people that live there and what they do to survive.
PDN: What was it like approaching people for this project?
SE: I’m a 6’2″ black guy and I stick out in a beach town like a sore thumb. Putting myself in a situation where it could be difficult to get the shot was the motive. I told people: “I just moved to New York City, I don’t know anything about Montauk or you. If you take the time to talk to me, I’ll listen really well.”
JK: We were more than happy to have Stan come in and take some shots. We just keep a healthy suspicion of outsiders trying to capitalize on us and maybe not portraying us in a good light.
PDN: Both of you have a history of shooting action sports and athletes. What’s it like shooting “real people”?
SE: It was nice to switch gears, slow down, notice things. I’m not shooting snowboarding as much these days but other doors have opened. I’m genuinely interested in hearing these new chapters and trying to portray them in a compelling way.
JK: When I’m not shooting surfing, I shoot fashion and beauty and lifestyle. I love to capture people in their natural setting when they don’t have a board in their hand or doing something maybe a little bit different then what they are known for.
PDN: What did you learn from the experience of working together?
SE: I gained perspective about living on the coast. I was always one of those people that goes to the beach, catches a couple mediocre waves, grabs a beer at the local bar and heads home not really thinking much about the community. After hanging out with three generations of fishermen, it dawned on me. The love of the ocean – working on it, playing in it and what crazy stories this boat could share if it could talk.
Also, [Slide 8] is probably my favorite family portrait of all time. After talking Charlie into letting me climb the mast of the boat, though I burnt the shit out of my hand.
JK: I think the big misconception is that we don’t like outsiders. We don’t care about how much money you have or who you know. This is our home, our family and this is our lifestyle. Just be real with us and we’ll be real with you.