Photographer’s Q&A – Brent Foster
This week’s Q&A is with Wallaceburg, Ontario, photographer/videographer Brent Foster. His web site is www.brentfoster.com.
What were your first steps in the industry?
My first step into the industry was showing up at the tiny weekly paper in my hometown, when I was 14-years old, and bugging the photojournalist to take me on as his intern and he did.
What were your fears as a student?
Jumping into the industry too young. I was 18 when I went to Loyalist College but I really wanted to travel and do other things first. My parents, however, made me an offer that if I went to college right away, they would pay my tuition. Otherwise, I was on my own. So I opted to go straight from high school to college.
When you were a student, what did you want to do after graduation and are you where you thought you would be now?
I really wanted to work in a large market and that wish has come to fruition. I think coming from a small town, the big city was very appealing. Funny, now I miss the country most of the time.
How did you move into multimedia?
About a year ago, I tried to sign up for the Platypus course. After finding out it was full, I contacted Dirck Halstead and the National Post agreed to fly him to Toronto to do a weekend Platypus crash course for us.
From that point on, I have been working really hard to learn as much as I can about multimedia storytelling and the all-important editing side of things.
What are your biggest inspirations?
To grow, stay passionate, and absorb.
Did you have a mentor? How important are mentors?
I have had many mentors throughout my career. Frank O’Connor, Bob Carroll, Reg Vertolli, Jeff Wasserman, Richard Koci Hernandez, John Major, Menno Meijer, Peter Jones and Frank Gunn.
Then there are people who didn’t even realize they were my mentors, like Peter Power and Patti Gower, whose careers I watched and tried to learn from.
All of these people have played a critical role in my life and career and they continue to guide and support me today.
What was a pivotal point in your career?
I think the most pivotal point in my career has been embracing and employing video into my work. I have always had an interest in moving pictures. Adding video and multimedia to my work has completely changed my career path.
Do you find you are always changing to adapt to the industry?
Yes and no. I have certainly had two major changes in my short career so far. The first was switching from film to digital after my first year of college. The second was picking up a video camera.
I don’t feel I am adapting for the sake of adapting to the industry. I am adapting because I truly believe these changes have been for the betterment of photojournalists and our abilities to allow people to tell their stories, which is what I strive to do.
How important is multimedia to you?
Multimedia is now my full-time job, so it’s very important. My new job is the first time in my career that I will be off the daily news beat and given the chance to work on still and video multimedia projects. I couldn’t be more excited.
What are some key elements to telling a good story using multimedia?
Audio, composition and editing. Spending the time to learn how to capture audio properly, and how to edit well, are very important in multimedia. Remembering our abilities to compose pictures as photojournalists when using a video camera is very important to composition.
What inspired you to be a photojournalist / multimedia shooter?
To be honest, at first I was inspired to be a multimedia shooter because it gave me the chance to get double-page spreads in the newspaper. Not only that but I got to pick all the pictures that went into the multimedia piece. So I wasn’t upset anymore when I looked at the paper the next day.
Once I got into it though, I began to realize that this is the best way that I can let other people tell their stories. I’m not sure if video and multimedia are for everyone. But I feel that combining audio with stills or moving visuals allows us the creative freedom and power to completely tell stories start to finish.
What is your favourite way to unwind?
Playing guitar, a book, the gym, a pint…or two.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being a photographer / videographer?
Shut up and let your work speak for itself. Pretty sure that my work doesn’t do that yet, but that’s my goal.