"The Best Photography Advice I Ever Got" with Jerod Foster
I am the owner of Jerod Foster Photography, focusing on editorial and natural history freelance photography, Professor of Practice in Texas Tech University's College of Media and Communication, and Partner and Art Director for Badlands Design and Production, a high-end coffee table book publishing company.
Most Notable Achievement:
Your Favorite Camera:
Canon EOS 1N (film camerafirst to drive home my commitment to being a photographer)
The most important thing I've learned through visiting and working with a number of photographers is the value of being an expert outside photography. It goes without saying that becoming a photographic expert is crucial to, well, being a photographer, but having a keen understanding of what you are actually shooting makes for better storytelling than just technical aptitude alone.
For example, in Storytellers, I encourage photographers and students of photography to become "temporary experts" on the people, places, and things they are shooting. My mentor and state photographer of Texas, Wyman Meinzer, always impressed on me through conversation his passion for telling the state's story and his eagerness to gain more and more knowledge about such a broad subject in order to do his job even better. In essence, he is more of a historian than anything else. I see this in other photographers as well, such as Jim Richardson, who is a huge advocate for research, no matter how big the story. Through all this, I've learned that the more passionate you are about becoming an expert on a certain subject, the better the story, and on a professional note, the more likely that expertise will turn in to something of a niche area for you.
Several years back I started photographing the waning lesser prairie chicken population. I learned all I could about this rather unique species of birds, and in doing so, I became an advocate for their conservation and someone that will continue work down this path (as well as someone that other entities can turn to for related images and information). Nowadays, I try to do this for every story I shoot. Sometimes becoming a "temporary expert" involves a simple conversation, other times it might take a year of research. Either way, becoming an expert outside of photography is key to telling great visual stories, and it is definitely the most important piece of "advice" I've picked up from many of my influences.