We had the good fortune of connecting with Rod Foster and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rod, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
The most meaningful and fulfilling assignments are those when get to tell stories of hope, compassion, justice and truth. One of my favorite organizations to photograph for is Purpose Jewelry, who empowers survivors of human trafficking by providing healthcare, community, education and practical skills. One side of their story is shooting product and lifestyle images that help increase sales which support the women who make the jewelry. The other side is traveling to the countries where the victims come from and taking photographs which tell the story of their journey from vulnerability & exploitation to opportunity and ultimately freedom. The success of a non-profit project is measured in the impact it makes on the hearts of the audience, rather than approval, likes, shares, accolades or payment
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a professional commercial & advertising photographer but my love is conceptual and abstract imagery. I started my career willing to take almost any photo job to support my family while working construction on the side. The early years included shooting for newspapers, sports & races, weddings, portraits, products, and food which helped me build a well-rounded knowledge of a wide variety of subjects. The challenge with my approach was that the conventional wisdom back then was to specialize one specific category of photography, rather than diversify. But the advantage of building a multidisciplinary photography business, was that I became valuable to creative agencies who needed to tell the stories of a wide variety of clients. So, instead of simply taking photography jobs based on the subject I “liked” to shoot, I was now sitting in the strategy meetings where my photography became part of a larger brand story of the client. In that way it was actually photography that opened my eyes to my passion of storytelling as a whole
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in the middle of the biggest playground on the planet! When friends and family come to town, the opportunities are endless. Where else on the planet can you surf in the morning, snowboard by lunch and finish the day watching the sunset on a desert sand dune? My favorite spots around town to show people are: the Arts District street art, tunnels, rooftops & the LA River, Roscoe’s on Manchester, The Original Pantry Cafe, Beverly Hills (to people watch), Griffith and Hollywood (because you have to at least once), volleyball at Manhattan beach, Sunken City, surf 18th Street in Newport or if it’s really big check out the Wedge, snorkel or scuba Shaw’s Cove in Laguna, cliff jump at Tablerock, longboard at Doheny, coffee at Bear Coast dinner at South of Nicks in San Clemente, Heritage BBQ in San Juan, bike to Trestles (especially during a surf contest), La Jolla kayaking, Jet Skis in Mission Bay, jump across the border for tacos at El Taconazo, slot canyons in Anza Borrego, roll down Imperial Sand Dunes, Bombay Beach Salton Sea, Joshua Tree, Big Bear (snowboard in the winter, mountain bike and wakeboard in the summer), an head home for some rest. And that’s just the SoCal loop!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife, Colette has been my biggest fan, praying for me and cheering me on to continue pursuing what I love even through the hard times. My biggest motivator was Dave Lauridsen, a friend from high school and one of the best environmental portrait photographers on the planet. When I was first considering shooting professionally, I met with Dave in his Pasadena studio, which was in the basement of an old church. When I asked him for advice on pursuing a career in photography he replied, “Don’t do it!” I often look back on tough days and wonder if I should’ve trusted his foresight and taken a “real” job instead. But, his words served more as a challenge over the years and have worked to prove him wrong ever since!
Jeremiah “Miah” Klein has been my #1 source of inspiration and encouragement throughout my career. I bought Miah a breakfast burrito and in trade he shared with me a wealth of knowledge. Since then he’s been a valuable source technical skill, artistic direction and even of wisdom, parenting, and faith.