Archive: January 2018

Images by Tarick Foteh

Tarick Foteh is a Houston-based commercial photographer and retoucher.

“When I was seven years old, my dad bought my mom a Canon AE-1 35mm camera for her birthday. Luckily for me, the multiple dials, f/stops and shutter speeds were enough to convince her to stick to her Polaroid and the Canon was relegated to a storage closet in our house until I stumbled across it one day and claimed it as my own. I remember riding my bike to Walgreens to buy my first few rolls of film only to realize that I had no Idea what the dials, f/stops and shutter speeds were for either. Since the best way that I learn is through experience, the Canon and I were a great match.

That camera stayed with me through the 9th grade when I was accepted into a magnet school for advanced visual art students. It was then, for only six weeks out of the entire semester that I would enroll in my first and only photography class. Being in a darkroom, processing my own film and printing my own photos meant I was way cooler than the other kids. I Continued to experiment throughout high school and into college where I studied graphic design and advertising at Texas Tech University. Eventually I graduated and became an Art Director for JWT. Although I had a secure job working for one of the top advertising shops, I was always searching for something better, hopping to other ad agencies in Houston, Chicago, and St. Louis.

One day a client that I was working for decided that they no longer wanted to use stock photography in their advertising. I was very excited because at this point I had moved on from experimenting with photography and this was a chance to rekindle my old passion. They had a massive budget and we hired a photographer who knew how to consume that budget very well. I showed him examples of the ways that I wanted the images lit and shot, and he showed up to the first location with a tons of lighting equipment, medium format cameras with digital backs, and all of the out-of-reach toys that a tech junkie such as myself lives for.

All of the excitement surrounding that shoot couldn’t prepare me for the disappointment that I felt once the photographer sent me the images. They were poorly lit, flat looking and left a lot to be desired. That disappointment then transformed itself into a confidence that I’ve never really felt before. For some reason, with a knowledge of photography limited to my experiences with my mom’s old film camera, I felt that I could do better.

Soon, I got the crazy idea to move back to Houston, and back into my old childhood bedroom. I spent all of the money that I had saved on digital cameras, lenses and strobe lighting that I had no idea how to use. That was totally ok because as I said before, I learn by doing. It took a couple of years for me to say “I’m a photographer” whenever someone would ask me what I do. Slowly, people began to hire me and within 3 years, I was shooting still and motion images for a great group of clients. 13 years later, I still reside in Houston, (no longer in my childhood bedroom) and my work frequently takes me nationwide to shoot portraits, products, interiors, and much more. Photography is the one thing that I have never really tried at. I just do it. So, here I am. I still have the Canon AE-1 camera that pushed my life in this direction. Unfortunately, Walgreens no longer sells film.”