Right Brain: Photographer Darren Foti runs Summit County Camera Club
September 27, 2016
Growing up in Florida, Darren Foti started snapping photos in middle school while skateboarding with friends, capturing their stunts over the years as they continued to do bigger and crazier moves. He started submitting his shots to magazines in eighth grade, and was published throughout the years, before moving to Denver to continue his passion in college.
After graduating with a photojournalism degree, Foti moved back to his home state of Florida to begin his career as a staff photographer for the Miami Herald. That was in 1996, and since then, he's had experience working in the industry as a photographic printer, selling gear, teaching photography classes and as a freelancer. In 2009, he produced more than 50 unique photo stories for the online new source, patch.com, based in San Anselmo, California.
When he first moved to Summit County in 1998, he traded in his skateboard for a snowboard, and began shooting a lot of video in hike-to terrain. He managed a photo lab in the county and at one point worked as a photographer for the Vail Daily. After a couple of years, he ventured back east, moving to Queens in New York. It didn't take long before the mountains called him back, and he was living in California when he returned to Summit in 2012.
Known around town as "the fish guy," he said, Foti helped open the aquatics department at Petco, and his photography portfolio reflects his fascination with fish.
"For almost two years I developed some friendships with customers," he said. "Even though I left six months ago, I still get stopped and asked for advice on their tank."
He now spends his days working at Mountain Sports Outlet in Silverthorne, and does freelance work for weddings and family portraits, and runs the Summit County Camera Club, which can be found on Facebook. Foti also offers individualized one-on-one photography classes.
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"Classes are tailored to each photographer, ideally doing what they want to learn," he said. "If someone wants to learn portrait lighting techniques, or using a flash effectively, the ranges are from the basics to the advanced — all explained in a way that is easy to understand and to be incorporated in the photographer's skill set."
Summit Daily News: What inspires you?
Darren Foti: Motion. I like going to shows and concerts and using the energy from band and using the lighting effects from the stage to use that energy in my photos. … There's different techniques, slower shutter speeds and multiple flashes, tricks to make it look cooler than a guy standing in a DJ booth playing a record.
SDN: What type of photography interests you most?
DF: I've gone through many phases, from aquariums; DJs, clubs and dance nightlife; to snowboarding and skateboarding. … Right now I'm doing a lot of astronomy — star photos and time lapses. Those are the things I like though, something that's hard, something I have to keep going back to because the lens fogged up or nothing happened or the clouds moved in.
SDN: Why did you move to Summit County?
DF: I chose Summit County, especially Keystone, because I like to hike and snowboard. There is a lot of terrain back there, just a five-minute hike to stuff that most people won't touch. … My main motivation to come back here was to snowboard, I'd been away from it too long in New York and then California. Keystone is one of my favorite mountains because of the hiking access. When I lived Avon, Beaver Creek is where I worked snowmaking, grooming and race crew. I love riding Beaver Creek trees, but I wanted to find some new terrain to ride and to be closer to Denver for photo gigs.
SDN: What are your hobbies and interests besides photography?
DF: Of course snowboarding and aquariums. I have one in the living room at home that's 55 gallons, a 5-gallon in the bathroom, and I'm just about to set up a display tank at MSO. It'll be the highest saltwater tank in a ski shop in the country which is pretty cool. Also, I'm in the top-10 players in the county poker league.
SDN: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
DF: To sum it up, the best thing I can say is learn your settings, learn what manual does. But also trust what the camera is telling you do, instead of trying to fumble around in manual all the time.
Master the rules of photography in order to break those rules effectively.
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