A morning walk.

It’s January 9 and it’s warm enough to go for a walk in jeans and a tee: that doesn’t feel normal at all – but the skies were beautiful and the light was definitely favoring photographers so I grabbed my camera and went for a walk.

2020

How did we get to 2020? In some ways it doesn’t seem all that long ago since we chimed in the Millennium, but in others that feels like a lifetime ago; but here we are. 2020 – A new year and a new decade.

I’m not a big one for resolutions – I’ve always thought it was strange how people would only really plan changes to their lives and the goals that related to what they wanted to do with their lives to a single burst once a year.

I plan daily, every day – I have a set of goals I want to achieve, some are literally things to do that day, others are parts of projects and commitments that may carry over weeks, months or even years – but following up with those plans every day means I never lose sight of the goals I’m setting myself and of the cadence of progress and the realism of my self-imposed deadlines.

I have high hopes for 2020, I’m already working toward many goals and waypoints that I hope to complete this year, some indeed cover this whole year and into the next and the one after that. It’s going to be an exciting year, my newly reorganized and rebranded agency has an ambitious set of expectations that will not only test my abilities but also mean that I have to step up my game and beat back bad habits that I know hold me back. I’m launching my own YouTube channel for creatives and makers and our plans to move to North America will continue to come together; it’s going to be a year of hard work, investing in myself, continuous improvement and learning and putting my head clear above the parapet once again.

I can’t wait!

B-roll

I love B-roll, I think it’s probably the most overlooked part of so many YouTube channels that get all up in your face without even showing you the world they exist in. It’s important to set the scene of your story, and over the last few days I’ve been shooting some b-roll around my studio and around London to give a bit of life to my upcoming YouTube channel.

I definitely want to keep the best of it for the videos, but this time lapse was too pretty not to share: this was shot on a go pro with a clockwork motion mount capturing a frame every ten seconds, it was color graded in Adobe Premiere using the BorisFX Continuum plugin.

I also wanted to see what the 4K 24fps was like off the iPhone X when it was conformed and color matched for those times when I might want to capture something but not have my SLR or an action cam with me. I have to say I’m quite genuinely impressed with the way this footage of sugar slipping into an espresso in my kitchen came out, considering it’s shot under very average IKEA LEDs on a phone; the footage took color correcting nicely and the image was sharp even when scaled to 1080p.

The things you carry with you

The internet is obsessed with flat lays and I was asked on my instagram to do a flat lay of my gear for work, but I took one look at the multiple flight cases of gear and thought better of it – because we’re all allowed to have lazy moments eh?

I promise I will get around to a proper break down of the kit that we use day to day in the production studio – but I thought that would actually make a much more interesting video than just a plain read with a few photos, so stand by, it’s on my list of things to shoot.

What I will share today is my daily carry: these are items that I almost always have on my person or in my immediate vicinity, and having taken the photo earlier I’ve already realized that it’s missing at least two essentials that I never have far from my person: those being ‘a’ watch – as I don’t like being tied to just one watch – and my Moleskine which I use literally every day for my daily lists and idea iteration.

For those that might be interested, what we’ve got here comprises:
Shades: Oakley Frogskins™ Grips
Wallet: Herschel Supply Roy Wallet
Pen: Fisher Pen Co. Bullet Pen
Earbuds: Sony MDR-EX450AP
Lighter: Zippo with custom USA plate
Knife/Multi-tool: Generic (Actually it’s a gift from ATI Radeon)
Phone: Apple iPhone X with @productred case.

So there you go, I promise a video detailing the production tools I use at Neil Evans / Creative will be online at YouTube soon, but I hope you’ve found this interesting – share in the comments or back on instagram or twitter the daily essentials you won’t be found without, I hope to hear from you soon!

Youtube!

I’ve been a content producer of one sort or another for a very long time – since before I’d even left high school I was writing zines, and since then I’ve created material for radio, magazines, tv, film and online in the form of blogs and forums and apps.

I’ve created content that ranges in scope from; just for myself to materials that were developed intentionally for broadcast, sometimes recorded – sometimes even live in front of a studio audience.

It’s not like I’ve been ignoring Youtube all together , there’s a lot of material on YouTube that I’ve had something to do with, whether it’s a channel that my agency has produced, recordings of me on other platforms, films and music videos we’ve made, or whatever – but I’ve always shied away from being the focus of the output myself; which is weird in that I’ve been a broadcaster for a long time, but I’ve always struggled to find a motivation to use YouTube in that way when there’s already so many other great content producers on the platform producing materials that cover so many of the topics I’m interested in.

That said, I’m taking the plunge – I’m at a stage in my career where I want to be able to pass on knowledge and ideas, I want to be a mentor and a helping hand to other creators, makers and innovators; and I believe that YouTube is exactly the platform to do that on. So over the last few months I’ve been planning, testing out some formats, getting a set up together for filming that’s professional enough to satisfy my expectations of quality without also turning my studio or my home into a full scale film production every time I want to share something new and shiny.

So stand by, a video that basically says what this blog post says now will be arriving very shortly, after that I think I’ll be using this digital space as a scrapbook and archive for the materials on the channel. If I want to write I still will – and that long form will end up here – but at heart, I’ve always been a broadcaster: and I’m happiest when I’m using that medium, so that’s the new adventure that I’m about to embark on with YouTube, you can ‘smash’ the subscribe button before there’s even any content there if you like – you’ll find my channel at: https://bit.ly/34JX8O6

Daily bread

I’m slowly getting the hang of bread – after many years of running scared from the room at the idea of making anything doughy – I’ve steeled myself and have come to terms with my fear of making a bad loaf and then consequently feeling bad at myself for having wasted my time.

I’m now quite comfortable making basic white and wholemeal loaves in rounds, batons and in traditional loaf tins, and I’ve even been experimenting with everything from additional ingredients to finishes including butter glazes straight out of the oven and more, but I have a confession to make: as nice as home made bread is it’s all very artisanal, and sometimes all I want is a fluffy white uniform store bought loaf.

There I said it, the cats out of the bag – there’s just something about the way that, loaded with sausages or bacon, it’ll stick to the roof of your mouth, absorbing all the fat, or toasted it’ll soak up butter till it’s almost soft again. It’s not classy it’s not diet friendly, but it can be supremely comforting: so I’d like to put it out there to baking friends – how can I make something that’s a good analog of your basic white store bought loaf at home for moments when only trashy will do?

Supporting Makers

Creative people don’t work for free – or at least, they shouldn’t – you can’t pay your rent with ‘exposure’; and although many, myself included, do offer pro bono work, advice and giveaways it should always be remembered that that’s done on our terms – we choose to do so because we want to share the experience.

But to continue sharing experiences you need to get out there and support makers: and what better time to share the love than in the run up to Christmas! With that in mind we took ourselves off to the Yokimono Japanese Christmas Market this morning. It was packed full of unique makers selling everything from beautiful stationary to kimono, furoshiki, stunning glassware and more.

For ourselves we picked up this stunning numbered original by Saki & Bitches – who I can totally recommend for a mash up of classic Japanese imagery mixed in a mighty blend of tattoo culture and Americana, seriously go and check them out today you won’t be dissapointed.

Soup season is upon us

Now I know these days that making your own soup might seem like an extravagance that no one has time for – especially when you’re rarely out of reach of a fairly decent range of cartons of soup that’ll satisfy most all of your soupy requirements, but I’d urge you to think twice about making your own for a few reasons.

First – you know what’s in it, you’re never going to be disappointed by it being all cheap filler or shocked by it being filled with additional stabilizers or poor quality ingredients. Second it’s shockingly easy to make really good soup: most are just a quick burst of prep that you can normally do in 10 to 15 minutes, the rest of the cooking time is rarely anything more involved than allowing it to simmer, cool and the blitzing it in a food processor, none of which lets be honest are stressful in anyway.

I first made this roast tomato and pepper soup after buying a glut of beautiful heritage tomatoes from Borough Market – I was making marinara sauce – but wildly overestimated how many tomatoes I’d need and they were just so pretty! But now I go out purposefully to buy extra just so I can make this deeply aromatic roasted tomato and pepper soup.


Roast Tomato Soup

Despite the amount of ingredients there’s actually not much prep, while you’re preheating your oven to 430°f or 220°c, halve the tomatoes, peel and crack the garlic cloves using the heal of a knife, chop your onion and potato roughly into cubes and deseed and dice the pepper.

Place the tomatoes and garlic into a deep baking tray and drizzle with 2tbsp of oil, seasoning well with salt and pepper, before roasting for 30 minutes – you’re looking for them to be soft and starting to char, that blackness is where your roast flavor is coming from, it’s the sugars caramelizing so don’t be scared of it!

While everything is roasting in the oven, heat a single tablespoon of oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion, potato and peppers over a fairly high heat stirring regularly until your onion is transparent and the potato is beginning to crisp, (this was around 8 minutes for me in my pan, on my hob – yours will be different – so keep an eye on it), once you’re there stir in the tomato paste and pour in the vegetable broth (I make mine from the jelly stock cubes and that’s just fine), season with extra salt; cover and bring the mixture to a boil.

Once you’ve reach a boil reduce the heat, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes, you want the potato to be tender so it starts to release its precious starch – that’s what will turn the watery broth into a thick hearty soup. You’re now ready to bring it all together: add your freshly roasted tomatoes and garlic to this mix at this point and throw in your basil, keeping just a little aside for garnishing if you’re going to eat straight away.

You’ve got a few choices here now: if you want to eat it straight away use a stick blender to puree the mix, and serve immediately with a garnish of shaved parmesan, extra basil and big chunks of bread or even more gluttonously some cheesy garlic bread – you won’t regret upgrading your bread here!

Alternatively this soup stores well, either in the fridge for a few days, in the freezer for weeks or pressure canned for months in a cool dark cupboard. If you’re not eating immediately leave it to cool in a sealed pan for a few minutes before blitzing in a food processor to your personal preference of smooth before transferring to a sealed container, allowing it to cool before storing.

Serves 8. Or freeze for a meal for 2 that’s ready in 10 minutes


Going the extra Mile 

This soup is perfect straight from the pan, but it’s robust enough to take all sorts of additional extras if you want to make it more exciting: pancetta roasted with the tomatoes and then chopped and saved to garnish, a swirl of extra cream, croutons you name it you can throw it at this soup, so make it your own, and as I’ve said earlier: don’t skimp on the bread – huge chunks of fresh Italian bread or deeply cheesy red hot garlic bread dunked in this will make your world a nicer place guaranteed.

Ingredients: 

  • 2½ lbs roma tomatoes
  • 1¼ lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 8 whole cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3oz potato
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • To taste salt and freshly ground black pepper

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

Shooting for the moon

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to a joint session of Congress that set the United States, and the World on a course to the moon: it was daring, ambitious, geez Louise – many thought it was downright crazy – but there it was, in black and white:

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.
John F. Kennedy

2978 days later, on the 20 July 1969 Neil A. Armstrong became the first human to step foot on another world: our world came to a stop, staring upwards collectively, our worldview permanently changed. 

Today we tend to look back and see both these events in the context of the past, seen through the success of the final achievement. But when JFK made that speech we’d barely mastered orbiting the earth – the longest American space flight up to that date was 15 minutes, the jet engine was only 20 years old – hell, a time before powered flight was even possible, was still in living memory: to say we’d step foot on another, ostensibly unknown, world wasn’t just ambitious, it was something else, something this very event gave us a word for.

This was a moonshot.

Now defined in your dictionaries as “an extremely ambitious and innovative project.” I believe Moonshots are critical to every person and business, it’s healthy to set huge goals: because it’s the huge and ambitious goals that challenge you to innovate, it’s all too easy to bumble through project after project making progress on individual jobs that pay bills but ultimately don’t add value to your overall offering. 

It’s here that having moonshot goals allows you to put skill learning, the jobs and people you work with, and your planning processes in focus: moonshots help shake out the pointless, the energy sapping, and the avenues which on quick inspection may look promising, but with the clarity of that broad picture quickly become obvious dead ends.

Moonshot goals help you define what is important, they allow you context to create genuine granular plans faster and more efficiently than you would otherwise have, because you have that end goal to place your immediate plans within – and that’s frequently where I know my short term planning can fail. There’s often so much going on I don’t know where to start; but with a larger goal to work toward you can create streams of activity which give immediate definition and purpose to everything you do, making your work focussed, efficient and engaged.

Not all took JFK seriously, many mocked his ambition, and it’s almost certain that if you set yourself moonshot goals that you’ll find people that either don’t understand their value, or through lack of vision simply mock you. The former will eventually see your progress and will often enjoy your enthusiasm and journey, the latter you can’t help – and painful as that can sometimes be – you’ll often find that if they’re willing to mock your big dreams, they’re also just as happy to impart negative energy and cynicism to your daily life as well; and seriously who needs those people in their lives? Not me.

It’s no great secret that I’ve always been ambitious, and thanks to parents and a partner that allowed me the space to dream and explore the things I wanted to do I’ve been privileged to have led a life guided by the mindset that if I put my shoulder to the door I will be able to open it.

As a result I’ve done some pretty cool stuff over the years: from broadcast presentation to running a political war room, and from organizing festivals to setting up design agencies, fashion labels and much more, it’s been a blast! But the track of my ambition was rudely derailed by the political situation here in the UK – The B word, for it shall not be mentioned here, made me reassess my goals and painfully made me realize that many of the things I’d planned for long term might not be possible here anymore.

So the last few months I’ve been back to the drawing board: and approaching 40 next year, I now have myself a new set of goals for the decade to come: emigrating half way across the world, striking out with a new business that carries my name, building a home for my family, and studio and workshop that will finally allow me to fully explore all of the avenues that my creativity wants to – and crucially to finally take all the projects that I have the skills and the time to do, but have always left simmering on the back of the hob: from radio stations to podcasts, blogs, a collection of my photography, and more: I have my big goals set for the next 15 years: they’re crazy goals, but I know I have the skills, talent, enthusiasm and support to make these happen.

They are my moonshot. Find yours.

Photo Credit: NASA Archive Public Domain
Photo Location: Sea of Tranquility, The Moon
0.655878 23.471664

To find hope, clear out the toxicity

I began this version of my website as a blank canvas with a post about hope and the future, and a few months later I’ve still felt no need to trawl my huge archive of materials going back to before the Millennium for a few reasons, the first being that they’re in the past – and that past – although instrumental in shaping where I am today is just that, the past: if I want to write about the past, I will – but I’ll do so with context, and second because I’ve been pruning: not my archive – but my digital life.

I’ve never shied away from trying out different social platforms, from mainstream to the thoroughly obscure I’ve tried a lot of them: some haven’t held my attention, others shuttered themselves, some evolved into services that didn’t interest me and others became a daily part of my life: facebook, twitter, tumblr, flickr, instagram, vsco, soundcloud, mixcloud – they’re all services that I dip in and out of during the week for differing reasons – but what are they really giving me back?

For some it’s a creative outlet, others it’s contact with friends, but by sitting down and actually assessing them I started to realize that far from them all offering something positive, many were injecting negativity into my day, and although I recognized this on some level, it wasn’t until I really gave it some proper thought that it became clear how some were downright toxic.

Identifying the toxic

Now toxicity comes in many formats: and I think it’s important that people realize this: twitter is probably the best example – sure it has some very negative people on it, it has polarized extremists, topic obsessives and people who you can’t always even be sure if they are real people, but it’s not simply the users – twitter is an attention thief.

The app assaults you with notifications throughout the day, forcing the news cycle, political agendas, petty fights and people with opinions you simply shouldn’t care about into you life, and it does so in such a way that you can’t easily fight it, it is monopolizing your hands as you pick up your phone and it is flooding your brain with reward chemicals for interacting with it.

Twitter attempts to package this in it’s marketing as interacting with a ‘global conversation’; but you don’t have conversations in real life like you do on twitter: if you’re having a conversation with someone you’ve chosen to interact with and suddenly 40 other people are jeering and interjecting, that’s not a conversation – that’s a prelude to a bar fight: and unsurprisingly that’s often how even benign conversations on social media end up playing out and you end up doing nothing but defending your rights to hold an opinion in your own social space: that is the very definition of a toxic environment.

So I made some changes

I knew I couldn’t continue living my digital life in such a negative place: the seemingly endless onslaught of notifications and any topic of interest rapidly spiraling toward a shouting match had to stop. So I started from scratch on twitter: this time with no notifications, screening carefully who I follow, and who I allow to follow me as well as maintaining a healthy block list of people and topics that I consider to be negative, and that’s not been easy – the urge to just shout into the void about the world is a strong one, but I know it’s not a healthy one.

Surprisingly also, honing the healthy topic list that I follow and tweet about has been much harder than you’d have thought: beyond politics there are many other areas – gaming and certain sports in particular – that have been all but taken over by an angry breed of obsessives who seem to have nothing else to do but tweet almost psychotically at anyone that disagrees with their world view 18 hours a day. Even for topics that you wouldn’t think could possibly illicit such craziness (such as Disney park fans) there have been a selection of toxic people that I’ve had to weed out and remove from my orbit who simply couldn’t maintain levels of positivity, decency and politeness.

Once I’d started with Twitter, undoubtedly, the worst offender – I found it very easy to become attuned to finding the positive, and it didn’t take long to find myself reaching for the deactivate and delete buttons as I shut down services that weren’t bringing me any level of positive interaction, and even I was surprised myself, to find flickr making that axe. Others while spared the axe have been excessively pruned: instagram in particular took the most aggressive edge of my social media purging, with thousands of accounts unfollowed, aggregators and the previously interesting people who had succumbed to the lure of branding themselves as ‘influencers’ who seem to now to simply recycle the same content endlessly were also sent packing.

And you know what? It’s really made a difference. I now find with notifications turned off that when I’m logging into my new twitter, or my instagram I’m finding a list of notifications that actually mean something to me, they’re comments and long form messages from friends known and new, they’re positive interactions, shared exciting content, useful critiques, and mentorship from people that have something they want to give back.

If you’re anything like me – you’re probably looking at your list of socials and thinking that it’s a mammoth task to prune: and you’re right – no way to sugar coat this – it was: it took me over a month, and I’m still at it, but let me tell you it’s made such a huge difference to the way I look at my digital life – and that newfound positivity has overflowed into my daily life, I’m happier, more optimistic and generally feel less overwhelmed by a world I’d never fully consented to, encroaching on every minute of my private life; so go try it today because this is a change that has to start with you.

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2018  
Photo Location: St.Martins Lane, London, WC2
51°30’41.9″N 0°07’37.6″W