Ben Foster: Leaving Your Comfort Zone
A Trip to Remember
Storyteller: Ben Foster, USA
What were the reasons for your travel?
I'm a visual storyteller based out of Milwaukee, WI. Every year I like to create a passion project of sorts. This past year my good friend/colleague Eric and I got the opportunity to travel with 14 of our good friends to Thailand for a month. Our goal was to create a film of some sorts, but we had no idea what the story would be. We knew we had to use this opportunity to create something great. We wanted to avoid the typical party-montage travel video, but we also didn't want our work to sound overly inspirational or contrived. After we returned from Thailand, it took weeks of reflection to realize that maybe the best story was the real story. We were all just a bunch of college kids—confused, lost, and having a blast in one of the most beautiful places on earth. With 14 in our own crew and countless others that we met along the way, our eyes were opened to vastly different cultures and walks of life. This prompted us to ask many existential questions. These questions have often surfaced more while traveling abroad rather than at home. It seems that being outside of one's comfort zone puts everything into a new perspective. As filmmakers, we get excited even at the prospect of a nice sunset, so when the plans started to come together and it seemed like this trip might actually happen, we were beyond excited for all the photographic possibilities that Thailand was sure to display. Waking up at sunrise and hiking thousands of steps to a Buddhist temple, all the while being surround by monkeys, was one of the many moments that left a lasting impression. Being able to observe such a gorgeous land with an outsider's perspective was beyond inspiring.
What compelled you to make this photo book?
I love print making. The process of taking an image and bringing it to fruition is a very rewarding experience. Creating a travel book was not something that I had intended to do, but after culling through the thousands of photos taken, I decided that I really wanted to create something tangible that I could look back on, rather than just a few key prints to put on a wall. I wanted to tell a more complete story of the people that I experienced this trip with. It's the little moments that were captured that help bring back the most rewarding memories. This is also why I chose to showcase most of the photos in black and white. It distills the image down to its essence and helps bring the authenticity out.
What is your favorite image and why?
For part of our trip, we rented a little Airbnb on the Andaman sea. Every night around sunset this Thai fisherman would walk out a couple hundred meters and bathe himself in the sea next to his boat. In the distance, there would be sounds of people chanting the Maghrib prayer. There was a beautiful rhythm to this that's impossible to put into words. I toyed with the idea of photographing this moment for days, thinking that if I did some of the magic would be lost. However, looking back on this image brings it all back. And I'm really grateful for that.
What is your favorite story behind a single shot in the book?
In order to go get food/supplies, we would all pile into the back of a truck that we had rented and would drive it into the nearest town. It was such a foreign concept to us. Back at home you'd be pulled over by an officer in an instant for not having a seatbelt on. It was such a simple moment, but an image I love to look back on.