Photographer’s Q&A – Rod Frketich
This week’s Q&A is with Rod Frketich, photo editor at The Waterloo Region Record.
I haven’t shot on a daily basis for a large number of years now. My portfolio is one of front pages which I have had a strong influence editing. One of my favourite papers since joining is The Record. Strong photography throughout the paper. – Rod Frketich.
What were your first steps in the industry?
I graduated from Loyalist College in 1991. It was a difficult time to be looking for a job. I took the first job that came along. Finished school Friday and began work Monday at Barry’s Bay This Week. Barry’s Bay was the beginning of my Ontario tour of progressively bigger papers. Pembroke Daily News, Timmins Daily Press and the Orillia Packet and Times. All these papers were my first steps in the industry.
When you were a student, what did you want to do after graduation, and are you where you thought you would be now?
As a student, all I thought about was taking pictures. The idea of being a photo editor had not crossed my mind. Brian Clark, the former Record photo editor was one of my instructors at Loyalist College. Now, sitting at his old desk with his name on the stapler beside me still takes some getting use to.
What or who are your biggest inspirations?
Yousuf Karsh. He saved me from failing out of photojournalism school. I needed a big mark on my final project for Peter Robertson’s staff photography class. With only days left and the famous Canadian I was assigned to photograph ignoring me, I desperately called Karsh and asked if he would pose, never expecting him to say yes.
To my surprise, he agreed to meet me at his studio. I have never been so awestruck and scared at the same time. He was very gracious and generous with his time, looking through my portfolio, critiquing my photos and print quality. I got an “A” on the assignment and passed the class. More importantly, it was inspiring to have one of my idols take me seriously as a photographer.
Do you have a mentor?
In the formal sense, no. But there are a variety of photo editors or former photo editors who I will turn to for advice. Sometimes, it is simply saying to myself what would (insert name here) do? Much of the mentoring came from just quietly sitting and watching people like Moe Doiron, Erin Elder, Randall Wolf and Graeme Roy work. Storing away what they did and how it worked out.
What was a pivotal point in your career?
Taking a chance and quitting a full-time job as a photographer at the Orillia Packet and Times to follow my fiancée to Hamilton. That chance led to a contract at The Canadian Press. Working on the picture desk, I realized photo editing wasn’t where photographers went once their knees and back gave out but rather an interesting and rewarding career.
What are you working on now?
We have just wrapped up a project I am really proud of called A Year on the Grand. Photographers David Bebee and Mathew McCarthy spent a year documenting the Grand River in the Waterloo region. It struck a chord with readers, served as a community builder, and was just plain stunning photography.
We are getting ready to launch a new project, which will be just as exciting, within the next few weeks.
How important to you is multimedia?
Very. It’s as important as stills for the newspaper.
How do you ensure you are progressing as a visual journalist?
By listening to my photographers. They have great ideas. Twice a year, I go back to Loyalist College as part of the advisory board. The students have energy and fresh perspective. Reading at least six papers each day and breaking down what works and what doesn’t. Looking for ideas which can be borrowed for my paper.
What are some of the must-see websites you visit? Please include why you visit these sites (e.g. inspiration, guidance, information, education).
Before breakfast to get the latest local news:
During breakfast for information:
After breakfast for inspiration and guidance:
What is your favorite way to unwind?
Having three children, coming to work is the way I unwind. Actually, there is nothing like being beaten by a seven-year-old in Wii to keep everything in perspective.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being a photographer?
‘Becoming a professional photographer is a way to destroy a perfectly good hobby’ – some unnamed AECL photographer.
‘Unless you have a 1200mm lens get the hell out of the office. You won’t find any pictures here’
It is not about whether photography, writing or design wins, but rather, is the reader being served? If not, they will serve themselves somewhere else.