Evan Kaufman’s Tiny House Photos Are Full of Big Ideas

Nov 9, 2018
Photographer Spotlight

Eugene, Oregon-based photographer Evan Kaufman has done work for Buddha Eye Zen Temple before, which is how he found out about their joint volunteer and fundraising effort with Cultivate to build and sell a tiny and architecturally unique house. Evan talks about the techniques he used to capture this modest house in its best and true form, and he succeeds at accentuating the charms of life in a small space.

Photographer Evan Kaufman for Cultivate Tiny House Project

What originally drew you to working with Buddha Eye Zen Temple?

Zen has an interest in doing things the best way possible, be it making dinner to painting a picture. This care and attention is the foundation of my own work and is something that clients of mine tend to share. Working with Buddha Eye and any project they are affiliated with is exciting as I get to practice with others that are as interested as I am in both the process and result. In terms of my own life, I have been involved with awareness-based practices for the past 20 years or so. I’m very interested in how teachings such as those found in Buddhism can help us understand ourselves better and serve as a lens to analyze life through and make better choices to live a happier life. 

Photographer Evan Kaufman for Cultivate Tiny House Project

What was this shoot like?

The shoot was planned after the property was moved to the homeowner's location and before the rain started in Oregon in the fall.  The site the home was to be located on was under construction when I arrived with a large trench dug for running water and electricity to the home; this would require a a lot of work in retouching later to remove from the photos. The shoot itself was first conceptualized, then staged, and finally shot waiting patiently for light to do what I wanted for each image. Post production was fairly involved, as is the case for all architecture work I do. I spent about 30 hours on the images to get them to the final results seen here; image retouching was primarily a combination of exposure blending and compositing with a lot of attention paid to the final colors to ensure the woods and materials used looked true to life. 

Photographer Evan Kaufman for Cultivate Tiny House Project

Did you collaborate with a stylist on this project?

Staging was handled by myself and the architect, Dylan Lamar. It was important to the architect that his personal style came through so we used furniture and other elements that he felt represented his design style.  The architect's own style was easy to work with so there was no friction in how the property should be staged and I was given control over this aspect and trusted that it would be a good result. 

Photographer Evan Kaufman for Cultivate Tiny House Project

What’s different about photographing a tiny house vs. a regular-sized house?

A critical element to shooting architecture this small was the use of a medium format camera. The widest lens I used was equivalent to a 24mm on full frame, but because of the much larger sensor, the field of view was equal to something like a 14mm. This seems like a minor detail, but it enabled me to photograph a very small space without the perspective distorting. If I would have used a full-frame camera, the results would have been poor with extreme perspective distortion making the space seem unrealistically large.  Understanding this before attempting the shoot was important to capture the results seen here and is something that is critical to consider when photographing small spaces.

Photographer Evan Kaufman for Cultivate Tiny House Project

How did this fundraiser for Buddha Eye Zen Temple work?

The home was sold to a buyer outside the community at a fair retail price, all the proceeds went to the temple community. All labor was 100% volunteer so there was a fairly large amount of money that Buddha Eye Zen Temple collected that went toward fundraising.  The home was sold successfully before construction began, and it's possible the community may do it again as there seem to be many buyers who are interested in this type of structure. 

Photographer Evan Kaufman for Cultivate Tiny House Project

See more of Evan at evankaufman.photo!

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