Four years ago, Evan Givens was at a pawn shop with a friend when he found a digital single-lens reflex camera for $40.
“I freaked out and bought it immediately,” Givens says. “Ever since then I have not put a camera down.”
Givens, 26, was recently named one of three 2020-21 Brandon Fellows by the Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The fellowship is designed to help young local artists develop within the arts community.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Givens moved to South Carolina when he was 14 and attended the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, where he took photography classes and learned to shoot on a black and white film camera.
“Before then, to be honest, I didn’t even know you could do fine art with photography. I was more of a drawing and painting guy,” Givens says.
Then came a long, dry spell. After graduating from the Governor’s School, Givens gave up on photography because he couldn’t afford a camera of his own — until that day at the pawn shop.
“I kind of ran rampant from there,” he says.
He made a little money and sold his camera for more than what he paid for it. He did that five times — buying better and nicer equipment — before finally settling on the camera he uses now.
As an artist, Givens says he mainly shoots portrait photography.
“I had always been obsessed with drawing faces and painting people … and how smiling more or laughing more or certain actions can change the structure of someone’s face and how you are seen to the world,” Givens says.
His main goal as a photographer is to tell his own story through other people.
“I try to isolate a feeling or a moment that I’ve had in my life through whatever model I may have with me that day and really try to push to recreate that feeling in my mind that other people can bond with,” Givens says.
He also draws inspiration from music and past traumas.
“There’s a moment where your brain doesn’t understand how to process, and that’s what makes trauma,” Givens says. “A lot of times that’s really what I try to focus on — that moment of ‘What do I do now?’ or ‘Why is this that way?’”