Interview with Ty Foster, Photographer
Interview with Ty Foster, Photographer
Ty Foster is a Connecticut born photographer who formerly worked in the insurance industry, and later changed directions and begun photographing anything he could, finally settling on animals as his subject. Ty Foster’s publisher recently reached out to me concerning Ty Foster’s recent book, LICK, comprising photographs of dogs in mid lick! You can view a behind the scenes video in conjunction with the book, LICK, here. A selection of Ty Foster’s work is displayed below. Please visit Ty Foster’s website to view more of his work.
KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a photographer and when did you realize it would be your chosen form of expression?
TY FOSTER: I wasn’t a kid who grew up with a camera. I photographed my friends mountain biking and doing jumps and things, but I never took it seriously. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in England that I really started to engage and take photography more seriously. From then on, every year I started photographing more, reading more, refining my images until I decided to quit my full-time job and pursued it as a career.
KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?
TY FOSTER: I graduated with a degree in marketing and a minor in graphic design; however, I never took any photography courses and related courses that involved photography.
KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating photographs was absolutely something that you had to do?
TY FOSTER: I think it was something that evolved out of a set of certain circumstances. I worked at a job I did not enjoy for three years and, during that time, photography was my escape and it just evolved into something I really became passionate about.
KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin photographing dogs?
TY FOSTER: I am not really sure what it was that actually triggered me into wanting to focus on photographing animals. I’ve always been really passionate about animals and animal welfare so I am sure that had something to do with it.
KATHERINE CARVER: How has your dog inspired your work?
TY FOSTER: I don’t think there is an animal photographer or dog photographer alive that hasn’t had an animal or a dog himself/herself. I think everyone has a muse that’s close to him or her that has inspired him or her at some point. All the animals in my life have certainly been inspirations, and fortunately enough they’re all extremely patient. Tech, our Rhodesian Ridgeback, has actually learned to count the shutter clicks and when he’s heard about seven to eight clicks, he comes trotting over for a treat.
KATHERINE CARVER: Where did the idea come from for your work and new book entitled, LICK?
TY FOSTER: It wasn’t planned at all. I was working on a shoot for a client at the time and I grabbed some peanut butter as a last resort to keep the dog in the studio a little bit longer. As soon as we gave him peanut butter, he wouldn’t stop licking and we got these wonderful, ridiculous portraits. I knew immediately that I had to try this with different breeds and different ages to see what reactions and emotions we could capture.
KATHERINE CARVER: How did your new book, LICK, get published?
TY FOSTER: The LICK series went viral, so to speak, and various blogs picked it up and, before I knew it, LICK spread all over the internet. Jen Bilik, the founder of Knock Knock, sent me an email and asked if I would be interested in making a book. Obviously, I was extremely excited and honored to be asked!
KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative,” mean to you?
TY FOSTER: Getting excited about the work you are putting out into the world. With all aspects of life, there are those who do things to impress others, and then there are those who do things to impress themselves. Thinking of ideas and watching them grow from a sketch or doodle on a piece of paper to a print is such a rewarding process.
KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?
TY FOSTER: I think staying creative and inspired. Actually taking a photograph represents such a small percentage being a photographer. There are many different things to juggle from finances, to marketing, to the day-to-day tasks. It’s a real challenge juggling all the responsibilities of running an actual business.
KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?
TY FOSTER: Being passionate about what you do, regardless of what you do in life, even if it is something you absolutely love to do, there are always going to be good days and bad. I believe understanding what your true interests in life are, and then weaving them into a career will certainly help keep you motivated.
KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your work?
TY FOSTER: When ideas pop into my head I’ll jot them down and let my subconscious crunch on it for a while. Then, I’ll think of another part of the idea and soon I’ll have a fully formed idea. Not everything I write down initially turns into an idea either and I think that’s the exciting part, determining which idea(s) I want to run with.
KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?
TY FOSTER: Currently, I am working on a sequel to LICK and I have a few non-dog related projects that are still in the idea phase.
KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?
TY FOSTER: Oh, this is a tough one, especially since I pull from so many different sources. Nick Brandt’s work is phenomenal, Ralph Steadman, Zaria Forman, Elliott Erwitt, Dan Winters … the list could go on and on.
KATHERINE CARVER: What advice can you provide for aspiring photographers and artists?
TY FOSTER: Be true to yourself and photograph things that excite you! There are many people already photographing what’s in style or what’s trending now, and there will always be people who are mimicking the latest trends. Find your style or your niche and be true to it and push yourself. Also, find a mentor or someone who look up to and reach out to them. A mentor is priceless.
KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your recent book, LICK?
*All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Ty Foster.
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