The interview with Kos Evans is my pick of my features March’s etc Magazine…
Kos Evans went from taking pictures of sewage pipes to capturing James Bond. Laura Cartledge discovers her story.
Even reading Kos Evans’ biography is enough to wear you out.
An average day for the Midhurst-based photographer could include hanging out of a helicopter going 100mph in a harness or chasing powerboat world champions, all with a camera in hand.
“I know fear if I have the camera away from my face,” smiles Kos. “It can make you become immortal in some ways – you just focus on getting the picture.”
Going beyond the boundaries seems to be her signature style and arguably has helped Kos become an award-winning action sports photographer, regarded among the best in the world.
“It’s not by design – it is about going where the eye hasn’t been before,” she says. “Finding a new way of looking at it.”
Always on a quest for a fresh perspective has seen Kos search high and low – quite literally.
One memorable occasion was at the America’s Cup; a yacht sailing competition believed to be the oldest trophy in sport.
“They suggested, as a joke, that I should go up the mast of one of the yachts,” explains Kos. “I thought it was a great idea but got stuck halfway up.”
However, this didn’t put her off, having got to the top and captured her shot the birds-eye angle has become one of her most distinctive. Now Kos has scaled some of the tallest yachts in the world, including the mind-boggling 208ft high mast of the super yacht Maltese Falcon.
To the other extreme Kos is no stranger to underwater photography, with one particular experience serving up more than a dramatic shot.
“I was working for Rolex and was six metres below the surface holding on to the anchor of one of the buoys used as a racing mark,” she explains. “But, as the first racing yacht came past it sucked the buoy towards its keel with me still attached.”
Thankfully Kos managed to pull herself away from the yacht just in time and also got the picture which went on to be used in a worldwide advertising campaign.
It sounds like something out of a movie, and as it happens Kos has worked on those too.
“Bond was very exciting,” she grins. “We worked on The World Is Not Enough.”
Kos was contacted by Eon Productions to see if she could provide a high speed chase boat down the River Thames.
“It meant having a £500,000 camera mounted on the boat,” she adds. “We had an explosive expert with us and foam floating on the water with two pounds of Semtex underneath. They were meant to go off after the baddy has gone past and before us – but the timing was wrong. We were unbelievably lucky it could have blown the front of the boat off.”
The iconic opening sequence lasts only six minutes on screen but took a staggering six months to film, something which wasn’t helped by a request from parliament.
“We all had radio headsets and were told to stand down as parliament needed to have lunch and the noise from us was disturbing them,” laughs Kos. “There were loads of us just standing around for two hours.”
Despite her amazing experiences Kos regards it as “just another day in the office”. But with that office ranging from the war zones of Bosnia to clinging to a speedboat being driven by James Cracknell at 80mph, it is clearly far from ordinary.
Kos has certainly come a long way since she was given her first camera by her father and grandmother, but her unconventional style was apparent from early on.
“On holidays I wasn’t taking pictures of the family but silhouetted sewage pipes and weird things like that,” she says. “I loved the sculptural shapes.”
Later she went on to study at the London College of Printing and honed her art in the black and white darkrooms at the Observer.
“I’ve been shooting for 30 years now,” she smiles. “I used to have bikes outside my house waiting for images but now I can send things across the world via the internet. I’m working on a new book and a new art project and hope to have an exhibition towards the end of the year.”
Walking on Water is Kos’ latest book and is packed with spectacular marine images.
The book is available from Bloomsbury (www.bloomsbury.com) for £30.
Funny fact: Kos’ previous book, 20×20, weighed ten kilos, has a carbon fibre cover and measured a metre wide.
~Originally published in etc Magazine, March 2013~