Photography instructor: 'The camera is a great device to get to know people'

Wherever Leland Foerster looks, he sees something he’s never seen before. His camera, a constant companion, sees even more.

INSTRUCTOR PROFILE: Leland Foerster, Photography

“At the most basic level, I enjoy looking carefully at things,” said Foerster, a 20-year UC San Diego Extension instructor in the photographic arts. “If you stop and look at something carefully, you’ll see much more detail. I’ve always really liked that.”

Ever inquisitive, Foerster’s evocative works have dealt with the people and culture of rural Baja California and the Imperial Valley.

For each project, he immersed himself in those harder-edged cultures for months at a time. Recently, he also completed a series of DVDs dealing with family health and childhood obesity.

Now he’s ready to embark on another legacy project, one aimed at capturing daily life in the largely Latino community of San Diego’s Barrio Logan.

“I’ve always thought it would be interesting to have my best students teach what they’ve learned,” he said. “We’ll provide the cameras and our students will provide the inspiration.”

 Foerster and a select group of former UC San Diego Extension photography students will mentor high-school students in Barrio Logan who have an interest in the photographic arts. They will tell stories about their lives.

For the course, UC San Diego Extension will join with Balboa Park’s Museum of Photographic Arts and the San Diego Public Library branch in Barrio Logan.

Foerster hopes the course will ignite the same passion that has directed his life. In high school, he went to Brazil as a foreign exchange student. His father, an amateur photographer, handed his son a camera and told him to keep snapping.

“That’s when I learned the camera is a great device to really get to know people,” he said. “If you’re interested in their stories, most people are willing to let you into their lives.”

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