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Photographer Jason Evans Captures the “First Light” of the New Year

January 11, 2017

By Lynne Schreur

© Jason Evans

First Light 2007

© Jason Evans

First Light 2008

© Jason Evans

First Light 2009

© Jason Evans

First Light 2010

© Jason Evans

First Light 2011

© Jason Evans

First Light 2012

© Jason Evans

First Light 2013

© Jason Evans

First Light 2014

© Jason Evans

First Light 2015

© Jason Evans

First Light 2016

© Jason Evans

First Light 2017

When we received Rhode Island photographer Jason Evans’ New Year email “First Light” we had to learn more about the project. For the past 11 years, Jason has been shooting the sunrise on January 1 to welcome in the New Year. The resulting images portray a haunting hopefulness of all that the new year will bring. We reached out to Jason to learn more about the project.

PhotoServe Staff: What inspired you to take your first “First Light” photo?
Jason Evans: I just wanted to take a “Happy New Year” picture to send to family and thought that sunrise on the first sounded like a cool idea that I hadn’t seen before.  Funnily enough, the sun never came out from behind the clouds that first year and I ended up with a pretty dreary first light picture. But it still served a purpose that stuck.

PSS: Did you know when you took the first one that it would become a yearly project or did it evolve over a few years?
JE: I didn’t plan on it becoming a series, but when the second January 1 came around, I had to take the picture just in case I ever wanted to do more.  Now, it is something I look forward to every year and that my friends, family, and colleagues look forward to receiving.

PSS: Are the photos all taken in the same place?
JE: Most of the photos are taken near my home in Rhode Island.  The sun rises fairly late on January 1 but you still have to get to the chosen location well before dawn. One year I was vacationing in Mexico and I took the picture there.  Another year I went to El Paso, TX and though the border was an important element to bring into the picture as it was, and still is, relevant to the current political climate. As I continue to evolve the series, I will be looking to travel more and come up with different ways to incorporate locations, people and the sunrise into the photos.

PSS: Are there any special challenges to taking photos of the sunrise?
JE: The biggest challenge of shooting these sunrise pictures is not going too crazy when celebrating the new year.  So New Year’s Eve is not a late night for me. Since I’m often out the door around 4 a.m., it’s also hard to find subjects willing to get up early on the first.  Often times it’s hard to know if the sun will be visible first thing in the morning; it could be hidden behind low clouds for a while, or sometimes never appear.  There is only one January 1 of that year, so obviously I can’t go do it again the next day.  Also, it is important to vary the picture from year to year. Now that it’s become a tradition for me, I’m looking forward to new locations and keeping it fresh.

PSS: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about the project?
JE: I’m happy that the series piqued your curiosity and I’m looking forward to adding new elements and excitement in the years to come.

To see more of Jason’s work you can view his PhotoServe gallery here or visit his website.


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