DJ Cobalt 60: Why do love creating images and what does the female form mean to you?
Maura Evelyn: Creating images just feels good and at this point I couldn’t imagine not doing it. It’s like any other expressive outlet – it releases tension…I crave it when I’m not able to shoot, and it opens doors to new experiences.
The female form to me is everything I love about human nature. I think we represent this alluring mystery of chaos and unspoken power all bundled up into this amazing shape of skin. We are extremely hard to explain in words, but we come through loud and clear in photographs and art.
DJ Cobalt 60: How long have you been modeling for? Was it something that came your way by chance?
Maura Evelyn: I’ve been weaving in and out of modeling since I was fourteen. I always had terribly awkward long legs so modeling just seemed like the right route to explore I guess. I started off in FORD’s women runway division in New York but I really wasn’t ready for that. I forgot about modeling professionally but was always encouraged throughout the years to take it up again. I would test, sign with an agency, and lose interest again. I think I had a certain idea in my head of what modeling with an agency should be like, and when that wouldn’t happen, I would give up. It’s only been about a year that I’ve taken it up again, agency free and 100% dedicated to whatever it is I want to do within the industry.
DJ Cobalt 60: Are you inspired by other models? Who or what informs your style?
Maura Evelyn: Unfortunately I’m pretty terrible at keeping up with the pop culture of fashion and modeling. I know the classic icons of the modeling world but I don’t know enough about them to take one on as my idol. They are all beautiful and have done unique work. These days I love seeing candid photos ofCara Delevingne. She seems pretty badass and true to her weirdness and I like her style. But my style just comes from what feels right to me. Sometimes I look at my photos and think “wow, that’s really beautiful” and sometimes I see others and think “this is really awkward and bizarre” and I like them both as long as I recognize myself in them.
DJ Cobalt 60: So far you have shot a lot of fashion, life style and editorial work, do you consider yourself to be a specific type of model or is the term model an open ended one for you?
Maura Evelyn: I guess I’m an open ended model. I know that I model…but I don’t consider myself a model at all. I do some fashion work and it’s great to make money off of it, but I just love to create fun images that (at my best) express how I feel and who I am. I suppose that fits best under editorial and lifestyle…but if I had the choice to be called anything, I want to be considered an artist. I have the most fun when I’m able to collaborate with the photographer and make-up artist and stylist instead of just showing up for a shoot that is already planned and there’s no room for error.
DJ Cobalt 60: You model frequently in swim wear and I think you have a real talent for it. Seeing you in a bikini just sort of feels right like Adriana Lima wearing angel wings or Jason Statham in a suit. There is a genuine love for the wardrobe present in your photos that you can’t manufacture. Now to stand out in swim wear can be sort of tricky because its be done so often to leave a substantial impression on people you need to bring your A game and make the images your own otherwise your just another attractive woman in a bikini and that’s not very hard to find. How do you try to fully inhabit the wardrobe you pose in?
Maura Evelyn: First of all, thank you! What an incredible compliment. I don’t try to fully inhabit everything I wear though. I wear (and do) what makes me feel comfortable with myself and ultimately I think that’s what releases my inner sexy. When I’m not comfortable in something, it definitely shows and there’s a difference in the images. I WISH I could fake it and rock anything with full confidence because that’s definitely what makes a model successful, but I just don’t have that gene I guess. What does work in favor for me though is that I absolutely love swimwear and lingerie. I love it, so I’m able to move about as my true self and that’s when you get the good stuff.
DJ Cobalt 60: On the subject of swim wear I want to ask you about what it was like shooting with photographer Eric A. Reid? It’s because of the photos he took of you in a one piece bathing suit for his “Endless Summer Project” that brought you to my attention.
Maura Evelyn: Shooting with Eric was an amazing experience. He was so easy going and laid back that it’s hard not to get along with him. I had followed him through social media for a while before he contacted me to shoot “Endless Summer Project” and I was really honored that he even noticed me.
DJ Cobalt 60: Eric also shot an editorial with you for sticksandstonesagency.com titled “Sink or Swim” the set has a very different feel from the rest of your work, it’s very somber and melancholy not quite as upbeat as your other photos. What was the initial concept for the shoot? Whose idea was it to use your apartment?
Maura Evelyn: So Eric approached me with his project idea to shoot me in my natural surroundings just being myself and doing what I love and I was super excited but extremely torn and disappointed because my first initial reaction was “No!” I had shot many times with different photographers just being my normal self but they always took place on location because I am very passionate about nature. Eric wanted to shoot me in Los Angeles, in my home, and it just seemed entirely different to me to invite someone into my personal home life with a camera and say, “here I am, this is the real personal me, this is where I sleep, this is where I cook dinner, this is what I wear lounging around, and this is the pool where I spend all my free time.” It felt like publishing a journal. I made the decision based on personal signs I was seeing all around. I was planning on moving right around the time he contacted me (though I didn’t want to leave my place) and always considered this spot of mine and the time I spent here like a permanent summer vacation. His “Endless Summer Project” title and my visions of my life in this place matched up perfectly and I thought, if there’s one way I want to always remember my apartment it would be through his photographs so fuck it, I’m going to open up a little. And now I’m super glad that I did. Not only did I meet a great person, but we got some great images for “Sink or Swim” which was originally encompassed in “Endless Summer Project”. But yeah, the images are more melancholy and somber because that was my mood at the time I guess. I felt the “Endless Summer” portion of my life was coming to an end and even though I fully embrace change, it’s never easy.
DJ Cobalt 60: A shoot of yours that I love and think is a great example of your body awareness as a model is the black and white set you collaborated on with photographer Jace Downs. By design all the attention is in on you, there isn’t a whole lot for you to work with, you’re essentially standing in front of a blank white wall in a studio and yet you are in complete command using your whole body from head to toe to draw in the viewer. Did knowing how to move and pose in front of the camera come naturally to you?
Maura Evelyn: Yes, it takes me a minute to get warmed up when I have to be on a completely blank background but moving does come naturally to me. I need music though or else I’m completely lost and just stand there feeling like a deer in headlights. With shoots like that, I just dance around a lot and the talented photographers capture me at the right moment with that perfect timing that they magically seem to have. You should see the hundreds of in between shots of those shoots, they’re pretty awkward and hilarious.
DJ Cobalt 60: I have to ask this, can you at all talk about the significance of the words you have tattooed on your left ribs? You might be the only model with the word uglification tattooed on themselves.
Ha, I never thought about it that way but yeah. Probably the only person as a matter of fact because it’s not a real word. The words are taken from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – the four branches of arithmetic in Wonderland. Not sure if any of this will make sense if you’re not familiar with the passage but obviously Carroll was full of ridiculousness and irony. These words struck deep with me though. They seemed like an all too familiar path that we (or at least I, many times) get stuck in. I become very ambitious over some passion, I get distracted by the realities of life that tend to bring me down, I “uglify” the ambition either by becoming discouraged by obstacles or on purpose in order to justify giving up, and finally, I take on an attitude of derision in order to cope with my failure. The words are a reminder to never give up.
DJ Cobalt 60: As a model do you only try fulfill the photographer’s vision or also add to it? Take for example your collaboration with photographer Ray Gutierrez. I am a fan of Ray’s work and can spot his photos almost immediately because of Ray’s unique style. Photographers are for the most part never in their own photos so the only way you can identify their work short of looking at the credits is based on their style and idiosyncrasies. Models on the other hand are always in front of the camera so they are usual pretty easy to recognize but, do you think if I saw an image of yours that was taken from behind with your face hidden or only an image of your hand I would be able to recognize it based only on your idiosyncrasies? Ultimately what I am asking is what makes a Maura Evelyn photo a Maura Evelyn photo? Do you feel modeling allows for the same type of self-expression as other art forms?
I always want to fulfill the photographer’s vision, but usually visions are more of guidelines. You have an idea in your head of how you want things to be, but nothing really ever turns out how you expect it to. I like to work with photographers who are flexible that way because it allows a good flow of creativity and an open door to things you may not have even thought of. Two minds together on a shoot is WAY more fun than just having to get the shot and go. Ray is not only a fabulous photographer but he has become a real friend of mine. Our images stand out because 1. (like you said) he has a very unique style but also 2. we’ve become close enough to trust one another with our ideas. We’re collaborating on a few different projects together because it’s easy for us to speak openly and let the ideas flow out without any barriers or feelings of being judged. I like working with photographers who I can call up at weird hours and say “I just had this dream that I was laying naked next to a skeleton dipping it’s bone fingers into glitter glue and I want it to be real” and they’ll say, “well I have a vision of you doing this next to a cactus and bound by daisy chains” and then we’ll get together and see what comes of it. As far as making a photo my own and recognizable, I’m not really sure. It’s hard to accurately judge ourselves and see how others see us. But if I wanted to be known for something it would be Rawness. I’m not a huge fan of photoshopping or airbrushing, I want everything to be natural.
DJ Cobalt 60: There’s only ever been a couple of times that you have decided to pose nude for the camera. I know some models can be very selective in regards to how much of their body they are willing to reveal on any given shoot, for you when does posing nude make sense?
Maura Evelyn: Being nude always makes sense…but in regards to displaying the nude photos and selecting which shoots make sense nude, yeah I can be picky because I want it to feel right. I love being naked, it makes the most sense to me, but I’m not going to take off my clothes for anyone who asks me to. If it fits with the vision and the feeling of the moment then that’s spectacular because we are probably going to get some badass images. Usually this happens for me only when I am at ease with the person I’m working with (I work 100% off of intuition and vibrations) and when I am shooting out in nature where it makes the most sense to be free.
DJ Cobalt 60: Given the opportunity money not being an issue what would your dream photo shoot be?
Maura Evelyn: I actually prefer to keep this one under wraps because I fully intend for it to happen…I can say that it will involve a lot of traveling and that raw aspect of life I was talking about earlier.
DJ Cobalt 60: The first image you would like to come to people’s mind when they hear the name Maura Evelyn?
Dark, strong, sexy…kind of mysterious. I feel like this photo he snapped of me really shows my true inner self…like you can see my passion and inner strength, which are both very important to me. It was quite a shock to see this amongst the edits. All his photos were beautiful but I was not expecting to recognize myself so much in this shot. Bonus…I’m playing in beautiful lingerie.
A GOOD MODEL KNOWS what their strengths, weaknesses, and limits are.
A PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD NEVER be fixated on one specific expectation…does that make sense? It does to me.
THE PHOTO SHOOT WHICH I’VE LEARNED THE MOST FROM does not exist. I feel something new every time I get in front of the camera, good or bad. Every shoot is a learning experience for me still.
BEAUTY TO ME is not to be defined. I like the weird and obscure and the different but I don’t expect others to.
MY IDEA OF SUCCESS is being satisfied with everything I put out there and having the guts and means to create images that define my soul.
DJ Cobalt 60: Is there any you would like to thank who has either supported you throughout your career or been instrumental to your career?
Maura Evelyn: Everyone I’ve worked with closely or plan to work with on some upcoming personal projects. My family for completely accepting the path that I’ve chosen, my friends and lover who deal with the best and worst of me and support the odd lifestyle that I choose to yield to as a model and in just trying to stay true to myself. And everyone out there who shows me genuine encouragement. Thank YOU for contacting me, I’m honored that you took notice and thought I would be interesting to speak to (there’s still time to scrap the interview and find someone else).