Behind the Lens with Photographer Evelyn Rude

In celebration of AAPI month, we’re thrilled to spotlight Evelyn Rude—a queer, Gen-Z photographer whose editorial body of work seeks to amplify and represent POC and AAPI communities. 📸

Based in Austin, Texas, Evelyn Rude’s Vietnamese American heritage, enriched by the Japanese culture of her adoptive parents, deeply influences her work, evident in her photo series “The Lantern Siblings” and “Outside the Goldfish Bowl.” As a photographer, creative director, and UGC creator, she travels across the country working with clients and publications like Adobe, Meta, Magic Spoon, United Talent Agency, Workweek, Wieden + Kennedy, Asians for Adcolor, IGN, and numerous Gen-Z creative agencies. Her work has been featured in Mob Journal, Selin Magazine, Vigour, and more.

We connected with Evelyn to discuss everything from her creative strategy for social media vs traditional channels, how she fosters client relationships, and her creative journey along the way.

1. What is the first creative project you remember?

My first creative project that basically got me into the industry was called the K.O.I series. It was my first editorial series where I made a photo series dedicated to koi fish. The first editorial shoot was just me folding 50 origami koi fish and hanging them up in some old guy’s backyard studio in the middle of nowhere. That project ended up being published and I got my first creative agency gig because of it. Good times

2. What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

It was for my Lantern Siblings Series. I typically visit LA 1-2 times a year and do a personal project. It’s always hectic scrounging up creatives wanting to collaborate in the area and very last minute as well (because every always has something going on). But for this project we all woke up at 4 am and drove to Torrance beach to capture film and photography for this project. We spent 6-8 hours and ended the project scarfing down food in this beach diner. One of the best memories I have had during my career.

3. What are the primary challenges you’ve faced during your creative journey, and how did you overcome them?

I think this is the inner child in me but expecting things to happen and magically appear. I feel that many people who enter their new era or phase of fulfilling their passion tend to get excited and have big expectations. But in reality it takes years and patience. In the beginning I wanted to quit because I made no income from what I was doing. It wasn’t until 3 year when I kept going at it when I saw improvement. Then the 5 year mark hits and it’s when you finally get the ball rolling with things. But still even at 5 years I tend to be impatient. It’s human nature.

4. How does your strategy change when directing for social media vs. other channels?

Social media is a tough one. Instagram tends to be more polished, more branding but in a corporate way. Meanwhile platforms like Tiktok you can be really genuine and viewers appreciate stories of struggling and the process of one’s journey. When new social media arrives in the future, I’m going to be so burnt out. But this is the age of social media and marketing. You have to keep up with the times.

5. How do you cultivate strong relationships with clients?

This may be a shocker… but viewing them as human beings. Yes surprising I know. Clients are definitely intimidating, but that does not mean they don’t care about who you are as a person or how you should treat them. I tend to build great partnerships and friendships with my clients by just being normal. Make jokes, talk about trends, something funny that happened that day. Keep communicating with them even if it’s a congratulations.

6. Are there any special processes or personal rituals that help aid your work?

I think reading up on creativity and how to unlock other channels of it within myself has really improved my game. Creativity is healing. It’s not about the end goal of a piece of work or art, it’s the process. So I have to realize that process is good even if it does take time.

7. What is your most surprising or unassuming source of inspiration?

I get inspired from emotions. Whether I’m upset or someone is bashing me on the internet for not being creative enough, it sparks something within me to come up with an idea or content from it. Because why sit in the emotions when you can put it into something amazing?

8. What advice would you have for people just getting started in creative direction?

Storytelling is so key when it comes to anything creative. If you don’t have a reason behind why you’re creative directing this idea or have a story laid out to explain to clients, it’s not going to fly easily. Be genuine with it and it’s okay if it doesn’t come to you yet. Surround yourself with others who have experienced what you’re just starting out. 70% of the time they are willing to help because they understand.

9. What is your dream creative project or collaboration?

My biggest dream is to do a campaign for Loewe. When it comes to fashion, Loewe is the most creative and outgoing brand that has a distinct style. Love them.

10. What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?

It’s okay to take a break or burnout. We are not engines. We are human beings who needs sleep, face unexpected situations and hardships. You have the rest of your life to do and be whoever you want. No one is stopping you but also it’s okay to stop for yourself as well.

Follow @erude3431 on Creatively.

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