STARR PROFILE // Evan Schwartz

Evan Schwartz is not your average photographer. In fact, he’s not sure he’s a photographer at all—but he is an artist, and he did take some stunning photographs when he came by Starr Street last month.

As part of his latest experiment, he fed the hottest known peppers to a series of people and snapped their photograph mid-sensory overload. The results are both beatific and beautiful. We spoke to Evan about this project, and what’s next for his roving creativity.

Read our Q&A, and then check out more of his work at or on Instagram at @bigfauxpas

— Joey @ Starr Street


Tell us a little about yourself and your work. What's your background? What's your artistic vision and what drives you creatively?

I went to NYU for film production, and now I’m living in Bushwick working on as many film/theatre/photo projects as I can. I’ve got pretty severe ADHD, so I’m constantly obsessing over new ideas and ambitions, which feeds into my creative drive. I have to dive into things head-first before I get distracted by a new idea. I’m also way more invested in the process of experimenting with an making art than the final product, and failure excites me. I like to explore surreal, absurdist ideas to hopefully get to the core of something real, but mainly I just want people to laugh and take life less seriously, because life is really weird.

The artist himself (Photo Credit: Even Schwartz)

The artist himself (Photo Credit: Even Schwartz)

What was the focus of your Starr Street shoot? And how did Starr Street help facilitate it? How did it come out?

I wanted to use a classic headshot setup to capture people at a not so attractive moment. So I found a bunch of people willing to eat the hottest pepper in the world in exchange for a free headshot. I’d never done a studio shoot before, so my friend Ali Hale (@alisonhalephoto) showed me how to set everything up. She shot digital, I shot film. I ended up liking the objective, clinical coldness of the digital shots better. But yeah, those peppers are no joke. I don’t find joy in pain, but I believe our weaknesses unite us; after all, we’re all just animals, and when we can understand that, I think we can start to make more room for empathy and compassion.

The amazing people at Starr St Studios were so friendly and understanding when helping me with my extremely beginner questions. Studio A was such a generous amount of space for this shoot - more than enough for those who needed to lie on the couch/ground to recover from the peppers. The studio became like a cross between a party and an Emergency Room, and it was so much fun.


What's next for you and your work (at Starr Street and otherwise)?

So many ambitions! I’ve been directing music videos, which is a great way to keep the creative juices flowing on a budget. There’s a photo series I plan to shoot at Starr Street very soon. I just want keep experimenting.

Thanks for coming by Evan! We love hosting you in our space, and can’t wait to see what you create next!

Joey Rubin