Ep 7 – Jeremy Fokkens – Award Winning Photographer

The Ambition Project – Calgary Entrepreneurial Podcast

The Ambition Project is a video series in which we interview successful and ambitious Calgary entrepreneurs and talk to them about their struggles, what they’ve had to overcome on their journey and valuable insights they have to share with up and coming business owners. The series will premiere on September 18th, 2018. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay updated or stream an episode on Spotify or iTunes.

Jonathan Hafichuk: Welcome Jeremy , Jeremy Fokkens is an award winning internationally published photographer. When I ran that passed Andy he said you hated it. 

Jeremy Fokkens: It’s just , no I don’t hate it, I shouldn’t say I hate it . It’s just , I don’t know, something about when someone gives you a title you’re like uhg , and you don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to react to it so its whatever. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Andy just said you’re too humble to accept it. 

Jeremy Fokkens: Don’t believe anything that man says. Just kidding. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Awesome. 


Jeremy Fokkens on the Ambition Project BTS

Jonathan Hafichuk: So what kind of photography do you specialize in and what do you like doing the best? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I guess what I do as a profession, I’m a portrait and advertising photographer. For me what I like to shoot is people , I like to think that I’m a people person, I like people, I’ve travelled a lot and what I enjoy most about travelling in general is people. I don’t usually go to places for landscapes or anything like that its always been for people. So yeah for me the best thing is for me is people. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What have you built your business on? What’s your core offering? Is it more on the advertising side? 

Jeremy Fokkens: It’s a bit of both I’ve dabbled in a bunch of different venues focusing on a human element in the work, i’ve done editorial work,advertising,some travel stuff as well, id say its a 50/50 mix between that. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So just to dive right in the thick of it, how do you go about capturing the emotions of the story in your photos, especially when it comes to portraits? 

Jeremy Fokkens:From the commercial side? Or more on the personal side? 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Maybe a mix of both? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Mix of both? 

Jonathan Hafichuk: I imagine there’s a lot of overlap. 

Jeremy Fokkens: Yeah for me when it comes to photographing people,I think the biggest thing is listening ,I’m very curious about where, the people that I photograph , im curious about where they come from, what they do, what makes them tick, sometimes even what makes them vulnerable , what makes them uncomfortable, I like to find out as much about an individual as I can when I photograph them, I want …this is going to sound really cheesy , I want a bit of energy to kind of come through in the image so it does capture a bit of sense of who this person is ,or the kind of lifestyle they’ve led. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: When you take the photo, how do you know when you’ve caught that? Or do you just know just from experience? 

Jeremy Fokkens: That’s a really good question, it happens, sometimes it happens very fast and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes people react differently when a camera is in front of them and I think for me my process, starting with that conversation so once we start with that conversation I want them to feel at ease,I want them to make this, I want it to be an enjoyable experience I don’t want it to feel like the dentist where its painful and I want them , my goal is to essentially forget the camera and like I said have this discussion about who they are, where they came from , and once we have this wonderful back and forth, that’s when we get into a groove and that’s when that energy that I was talking about comes through. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What do you do to make people feel relaxed when they’re nervous, when they like, the people who can’t smile and they’re just like [Nervous fake smile] 

behind the scenes with Jeremy Fokkens on the Ambition Project

Jeremy Fokkens: I talk to them,I listen to them, I sometimes ask them difficult questions I sometimes joke with them, its reading their body language,its seeing how they react to the questions im asking or if its say, an art director for a job or something. They might ask them some questions and I might follow up or piggyback on something that they are asking. I really look for those little subtle differences in how they are reacting, the goal is to make them feel uncomfortable and again like I said it’s not to make this experience painful. Having your picture taken should be an enjoyable experience and I think if you’re on board with sharing your story as a photographer, some people might disagree. I feel sometimes it is our job to make them feel a bit at ease, Yeah I think. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What’s your favourite joke to tell to get people to smile? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I don’t even think I even have a go to joke, its , I like to be a bit sarcastic with them and push the boundaries a little to see what their sense of humour is, sometimes it works , sometimes it doesn’t. Then again , its that conversation, its that back and forth ,cause that person that, whos in front lense whos trying to gauge what’s going on, is trying to read you as much as you are trying to read them.So i think as long as you’re having fun doing it and it’s enjoyable , then something is going to happen and that’s what’s so wonderful about photographing people is seeing what happens and seeing what kind of expression you can get from these individuals. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So you were formerly a professional dancer and performer? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Yes, 

Jonathan Hafichuk: How did you get into that and what kind of dance did you do? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Uhh good question, I essentially followed my sister to dance class and the motivation, I’ll be honest, I was surrounded by girls so what kid at 12 years old wouldn’t want to go to a dance class. I really enjoyed it actually, it wasn’t, I shouldn’t say, it wasn’t just the girls.I really enjoyed it, I dabbled in a little gymnastics prior to being a dancer so I had that background. But there was something about it that was fun, it was expressive, I’ve never done well in school, me and school have never agreed with me, since I was in grade 2. I can remember I always really hated school but I always liked using my body and dance was this wonderful expression that , that’s all I wanted to do, dance and snowboarding ,that’s all I wanted to do. And the type of dance I was doing to answer your question was ; tap,jazz,ballet and then as I continued into my late teens I started dabbling a bit of hip hop , a bit of breakdancing and ,yeah I kinda just went from there. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Very cool, and how did you become a professional performer? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I started auditioning. I auditioned for jobs, I got paid to dance, I did a variety of different shows, did some TV and film, I travelled the world for 5 years on a cruise ship… 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What was that like? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Amazing! It was absolutely incredible.I got paid to travel. When you’re 18 and you’re in the Caribbean , I remember swimming in the ocean and swimming with some friends and we perform in the evenings and I remember just laying there in the ocean and being like “Oh, just made another dollar, Oh just made another dollar” every minute as we were sitting there in the ocean and I just couldn’t believe it someone my age could be paid to travel the world and I guess do what they love, you know growing up it was always this idea of you need to go to school, you need to get a degree and you need to plan for the future and it never agreed with me, to me it just seemed like the most ludacris thing to follow this kind of cookie cutter mold that people tell you that it’s what you need to do and for me I went with the opposite.And I had an obviously great support from my parents but they were a bit hesitant, on you know,hey you gotta, you should go to school and I was like no,this is what I love to do, and i’m gonna make a living out of it,being a dancer,and I did,and it was fantastic. Yeah. 

Jeremy Fokkens on the Ambition Project behind the scenes

Jonathan Hafichuk: How did you end up transitioning from that then to photography? 

Jeremy Fokkens: It just randomly happened actually, I was working overseas and I remember I was in St Maarten in the Caribbean and I just had the sudden urge to pick up a camera to start documenting in these places that we were docking at, and it was in my mind for a couple years and I had a little film camera that I would take pictures with, nothing crazy , there’s no manual control on it or anything. And then when I was 20 we were docked in Vancouver we were doing the Alaska run, I went into a camera store in Pacific Place and I think I pointed at some camera behind the glass and I had no idea what I was doing and I just said “can I see that camera?” and the guy looked at me a little bit weird and he was like “uhh ok”, handed it to me and I think I asked him, “Is it good?” ,he probably like who the heck is this kid, and he’s like “yeah it’s a good camera” and he showed me another one and I’m like “Oh this feels ok!, yeah i’ll take this” and just started shooting film and documenting all these places that I was travelling in and I found it really enjoyable I really enjoyed this process of going out shooting film, saving…well not saving but being really 

particular in what you’re photographing because you only had either had 24 exposures or 36 depending what kind of roll of film you were shooting and then I find myself getting into areas I probably shouldn’t of been getting lost in and places that I probably shouldn’t have been lost in while I was working overseas, and I really enjoyed it , I really enjoyed these random encounters with people and I think that’s where the people thing started as well. I remember I was in Busan in South Korea and I ended up on this shipping barge photographing this man that was drying out these squids that were covering this boat, there must have been about 100 or 200 of them, I have the photo too still,and I remember taking his picture, and we couldn’t communicate it was just a lot of charades and hand signals and he let me take his picture and I really enjoyed it . Did I know I was going to be a professional photographer then? No. I just really enjoyed the process and as that happened , that’s when this transition started taking shape.I started photographing the dancers in my cast, I started doing peoples headshots, when I finished dancing overseas and came back in doing choreography and teaching in schools and things like that, it just became more and more enjoyable and I thought, ok I can’t be a dancer forever,obviously my body can only take so much and a dancer’s career doesn’t last very long. I knew I didn’t want to be a choreographer, so I thought I really love doing this lets have a go at this. Yeah and that’s when that transition started. Sorry that was very long ended.Sorry. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: No,no that’s great. So when you approach someone in a different country or wherever, how do you typically go about asking them for permission to take their photo? 

Jeremy Fokkens: So when I started doing a lot more travels and photographing overseas, I would usually learn about 20 phrases in the local dialect, and from there it would be things like “My name is so and so” or “What is your name?” or “How do I get here?”, “Where is the bathroom?”,“How much?” ,“Send me the bill”,”Can I take your picture?” and that’s what I would do, I would learn 20 or so phrases and that would be the start of my communication.I found when travelling overseas people were very open and receptive and seem to want to help you more if they could see that you’re just making the effort to learn a bit of the language, even just like a smile and a hello I find goes a long way as well when you’re travelling even when you don’t know the language. So just start it from there and I was able to get in some really interesting places and photograph some really great stories. 

close up of Jeremy Fokkens

Jonathan Hafichuk: So did you develop your portfolio that you used to launch into a career during your time working on the cruise ship or was that after? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Good question!, After. When I made that step to be a full time photographer, solely commit my time to shooting full-time, running a business solely on photography and not supplementing it with a dance background and career as well,was in 2011. I decided to take a year off, completely, I commited to one year only and I was going to go to Bangladesh and Nepal for a year and build a body work I was proud of. The clients that I currently have that I was shooting for, I let them know, gave them a heads up “hey I’m doing this, just so you know ,i’ll be back but this is something I need to do” and I did. I went and lived in Bangladesh,lived in Nepal and just created a massive portfolio that I was proud of and I didnt have any restrictions or boundaries it was just go and make it happen. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So you built that body of work and then you went into doing it as a career was there anything at that point that you really did from a commercial or a business standpoint to make yourself stand out? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Thats a good question, I don’t know. I think what I do, what a lot of people do but I really don’t know. It’s a question ive never really asked other people in my industry. For me , I like to meet people so a lot of my business I don’t like to do via email,I like to be in front of the person who was looking to maybe hire me or even just get a sense of who I am. So for me, I’ll take them to Gravity,is a perfect example,I’ll take them and i’ll treat them to a coffee at Gravity.For me I like to have a conversation one on one you can see reaction the tone doesnt get lost that sometimes you get that in an email. I genuinely love people, and I love building a network in my city. I love where I live and I love meeting the people that live here. So yeah. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So when you’re going after those clients , do they typically find you through referrals or do you find clients you’d like to work for and go and reach out to them? 

Jeremy Fokkens: That’s a good question, I do sometimes will reach out to people,sometimes a lot of my work is referral based i’ve noticed, which is great, it’s good to hear people are spreading the word for you which is a sign you’re doing something right. Yeah,It’s a mix of both, I’ll reach out to people I’ll jump on social media as well and maybe have a conversation on social media, not just solely for getting business but just to say hello. I like to meet people first before I even make the whole business transaction sometimes, I prefer it that way. Sometimes it doesn’t happen obviously, right? There’s a company you might want to work for and you say “hey, I think there’s an opportunity here, let’s have a coffee”. yeah. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: When you were starting out your professional career , trying to make a living as a photographer was it a challenge? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Oh yeah, I think anyone starting a small business, it’s a lot more work than people think. People think we just push buttons as i’m sure they see from you as well right? Oh god, I was just thinking about this the other day, what is the percentage of what we actually do, I think 5% of my time is shooting, 50% of the time is admin and ,what are we at now…55%? So I think like 30 ,or 20% is luck and the other time is spent editing and loathing in self doubt.Theres so much to running a small business and there’s so much behind the scenes that people don’t get a chance to see , yeah there’s always self doubt and its continuous right, there’s always those days where you’re on top of your game and you’re super excited about what you’re doing and then there’s days where its “what am I doing, am I good enough?” you know everyone goes through that and it’s just figuring out what’s important and overcoming those hurdles and just givin er. 

Jeremy Fokkens on the Ambition Project

Jonathan Hafichuk: In your first year what were your biggest doubts? What were the most difficult things to overcome? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I didn’t really have any doubts, I think I was a bit naive I think more, I just was like well we’re just gonna do this and figure it out and that’s kind of what ive been doing, i’ve been definitely focusing more on the business side of things in the last year or two, really trying to finesse a bit of those things. But when I was starting out it was more so just meeting people, shooting the stuff I wanted to shoot, building a portfolio that I was proud of and creating value for my clients, yeah. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Did you have any specific hurdles that you remember having a challenge getting over? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I think trying to figure out how to market yourself as a photographer when there’s a lot , so many other really good photographers out there, I think it’s separating yourself amongst the pack. I think that’s probably the biggest one is really distinguishing yourself, finding your voice,your style and really showing people where and how you can shine for them and how you can create value for them,I think that’s probably the biggest one, yeah. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: I imagine that’s kind of been a perpetual process all the way through right? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Yeah I think it’s always a process as creators we’re constantly evolving and we always go through those phases of doubt and youre like “what am I doing?” but yeah I think it’s as long as for me, I trust my intuition and if it feels good, I just listen to it and keep going. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Over the last 4 years , I’ve kind of made my living mostly doing videography , and i know it has a creative, it can be really difficult to go out there and get clients, a lot of the times the people doing the creative work aren’t the types that are good at the business side and the selling side and stuff like that.It seems like in your case you have a lot of overlap in those areas your kind of good at both sides. For me typically I found in the past with clients, coming up with a cool and creative idea and going and pitching it to them has been the most effective for getting the clients I wanted to work with, what’s been the most effective for you getting the kind of work that you want to do? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Relationships,hands down relationships. I like to work with people that are enjoyable to work with, that have interesting stories to tell that need some value , that need photography. For me, I like working with people want to have a working relationship.I’ll take jobs, and I have taken lots of jobs where someone will hire me and ill probably never see them again and that’s fine.What I prefer is having a long term relationship with a client or a person or a company, again it’s that kind of volley with tennis right you wanna have that play, you want to have that fun with each other regardless if they hire you right away or 5 years from when you first met. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What do you look for in a client that you know will be a good relationship, what kind of client do you like to work with? Not like from an industry, but like from a personal standpoint? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I think open to ideas, I like offering direction, I like being at the table when they are doing consult development, I like being a person at the table even if I have nothing to say I just like to hear that conversation , I like people that want to tell their stories, and a genuine story, there’s a lot of noise out there right now and it’s interesting seeing the people that are going against that and telling a more genuine story about themselves , their company, maybe the people that work for the company, I like that. To me, I like stories and I like authenticity , I like people that are genuine and I like companies that are curious they’re not looking to explore something totally different and not what the norm is and not what the fads are, I like that. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So for noise what do you mean by that? Is that like people trying to make up a story , trying to just put on an image that they’re not or?What is that? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I swear to god if I see another person with their back to Moraine Lake I’m going to shoot myself. No just kidding. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Every photographer in town now doesn’t like you anymore. 

Jeremy Fokkens: I think you know what I mean, theres alot of stuff thats the same out there and it’s all starting to look the same.For me I really enjoy working with people that want to do something totally different that want to take a chance, that want to step out of that comfort zone or out that box and what everyone else is doing and things like that. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Not all Cyan and Orange clothes. 

Jeremy Fokkens: Exactly , exactly maybe it kinda comes from my history,I hated school,I wanted to do a career that statistically is probably one of the worst careers to make a living at you know?So it’s one of the things were yeah that’s what I enjoy. 

interview with Jeremy Fokkens on the Ambition Project

Jonathan Hafichuk: Just being in the creative industry, I have a lot of friends that are photographers a lot of people at very different levels in the game and I know quite a few of them ,especially the higher up ones are extremely adamant about everyone should charge sets sort of rates, nobody should be undercutting the industry. What is your viewpoint on that? 

Jeremy Fokkens: The whole what should I charge , Is I feel is the wrong question someone should be asking, I get other photographers asking me that as well. “What should I charge?” and I say you’re asking the wrong question, I think the question you should be asking is “what do I need to make in order to make a living that I want to make?” So I would say you need to crunch the numbers, if you want to make , 5 high five figures then you need to figure out how many photoshoots you need to do to make that 5 figures , you need to figure out your value, you need to figure out what your niche is, you need to figure out who your audience , think in terms of long term ,now when it comes to industry standards I ask the people that are in the middle of their careers or high in their careers, “do you want this industry to be around for awhile?” having a really good relationships with your peers and your competition , i look at the craft beer industry , some of those guys have some of the best 

relationships, they are collaborating they band together, i would love to see that in the photography world. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What if somebody has really high ambitions ,like they want to be like low six figure photographer but they don’t have a lot of experience,their gear maybe isn’t there, they don’t have the eyesight for it, they’re new, theres no matter what , like they couldn’t get enough shoots to make that happen especially in their work isnt of that quality.I think the market,if they’re trying to charge a rate that someone like yourself would charge, the market is going to reject that the market is really going to determine what they can make. 

Jeremy Fokkens: And that’s value right? So if someone can’t provide value in what they’re creating well then obviously they’re going to get rejected. So I think again looking at my competition just like any business if you’re selling beer or ice cream, what is my competition charging? Is it as good as my competition we are the same as photographers.What is my competition doing? Am I as good? You need to ask those tough questions you need to not just ask your friends who are just going to blow smoke up your ass you know? You need to literally get some good feedback and be honest with yourself and if it’s not on par, well then maybe there’s some things you need to change in order to earn that 6 figure. Because it’s definitely possible, nothing is impossible so I think you definitely need to ask tough questions like in any business, you need to look at your competition , you need to ask yourself what kind of value you’re providing and like I said , when other photographers ask me , i tell them flat out what I charge, I have no secrets, im an open book and yeah we’ve all lost work to people undercutting, but like I said you get what you pay for. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So for people starting out trying to build that portfolio,do you suggest that they start out at a low price point? Start out doing work for free? 

Jeremy Fokkens: That’s a really good question,Again I would say , figure out what you need to make a living.and then figure out if your work is not on par with your competition,or the type of work that you want to shoot, go shoot it. Go take on personal projects, go do creatives, and by creative I mean doing photoshoots you want to create, create the work you want to create. For me that was going to Bangladesh and photographing fishermen in the river.Thats what I wanted to create and I think if you shoot that type of work and that’s the type of work that you want to create, you’ll get hired for the work that you create. And in terms of charging, again I cant undiss myself as my business and I can’t answer that for someone else’s business but I think there’s definitely an industry standard. And I think a person 

definitely know when they’re lowballing.As opposed to, they’ll find out, people will find out when realize they’re actually paying their client to shoot when they look at their expenses. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So once you meet with client how do you show them that value? Obviously your work speaks for itself really well, but there’s always another level to it, you need to explain the difference of what your process is and those people who are doing 100 photos or 100$ kind of thing. 

Jeremy Fokkens: I like to get in front of my client,I like to get a detailed scope of the project. I offer feedback of what it takes to get those images, I’ll tell them what type of production is involved,ill show them my work,I’ll tell them what’s involved and what it took to get some of these images that ive showed them and take the conversation there. Sometimes you need high production and sometimes you need very very low production it really depends obviously the project. So for me it’s getting all the details everything out on the table and then that way the client can make the best decision they need to make to move forward and hopefully you get chosen and sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What’s the biggest production you’ve worked on? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Oh,uhm…it wasnt with my company, it’s when I was assisting another photographer we were doing some stuff down in San Diego for FGL,Sport Chek. So that was really fun,I’ve done some travel stuff, nothing too too crazy, you know, enough. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: What advice do you have for maybe not just photographers, but creatives in general on constantly improving their skills and portfolio and really mastering their craft? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I think being genuine with your work and what I mean by that is trusting your gut, if you see a fad or a type of imagery coming up and you feel like “this is what everyones doing, I should do that” I would say ask yourself “ do I though it is something that gives me joy?” Something that you feel you need to shoot, and if the answer is no maybe you shouldnt.I alway tell people shoot personal projects,shoot long term personal projects.Spend some time honing in on your craft.If you’re in this for the long term spend the time.If this is a , anyone whos looking for a quick fix isn’t going to last long in this industry,if you’re looking to get rich in photography it’s not going to happen. You can make a very good living doing what you do but I say honing in your craft ,always push yourself to push work, try something different,look for new things you can learn and yeah pursue personal 

projects because sometimes when we get caught up in the business side of things or a type of photography were constantly hired for we can burn out like any job. For me I like to remind myself why I do this. I got into this when I was travelling , I still love to travel and I do in order to keep myself fresh and sane and constantly trying to push my work 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Yeah, I found it difficult for myself in the last couple years, most of my time, probably 80% of it is focussed on business development and I spend very little time shooting.The time I do spend shooting it’s almost never creative personal projects so, it’s actually kind of the reason, part of the reason I started this project. 

Jeremy Fokkens: And how does it feel? 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Its great, except for the massive time consumption 

Jeremy Fokkens: And that comes with the territory and we know that , right as creators and we do that sort of thing but it’s worth it and it’s a nice reminder when we get to work on those personal projects because it’s ours and there’s no restrictions ,there’s no deadlines it’s just I want to create something for the sake of creating something.And I think that’s wonderful. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Just to sort of wrap up here, you mentioned that you are currently working on a personal project,I believe you said you started in 2014 called Back To The Land. Tell us about that. 

Jeremy Fokkens: Back To The land colonized from my travels overseas so, I spent a lot of time overseas and when I came back to Canada,I realized I hadn’t seen a lot of my own country. And with that I decided to just take a chance and photograph people from small towns in remote areas.Which I used to do when I was overseas,Id go to some really interesting places and photograph people and industries and these environment and I wondered why if I could do it over in other countries where I can barely speak the language, why can’t I do it here and I thought,this is something I should explore, and I did.It started in 2014 in southern Saskatchewan,and every year ive spent anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks every year travelling to remote and small areas across the country. I haven’t completed the entire country, Canada is a very big place but i’ve covered same fair territory so far in the last 4 years, I expect to be finished in 10 years time.So again it’s a very long term project,I wish, it would be great if I could commit 100% of my time to it but I have a 

business to run, I love my clients ,I love what I do and like said its a personal project and it kind of a reminder of why I do what I do.The purpose of this project is really just a homage to Canada and people love Canada,to show a different side of Canada and I hope by focussing on people that aren’t so much in the limelight or in big cities or high profile entrepreneurs we can get a better sense of why people love this country and its voice. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: That’s really cool, what does the project look like? Is it a blog? 

Jeremy Fokkens: It is a blog right now, I blog about it on my blog if people still blog, I think probably like 4 people that blog. But the angle is a book and the angle is also public exhibitions,So im looking to then take these images from all these different areas and rural and remote areas and then take them to the major city hubs where people have never seen these places or even heard of some of these places they’ve never been to and just show a different side of Canada so they’ll be in public spaces, so they’ll be free for everyone to see and they’ll get a sense of the people in the photographs,So i’ll have a story, i’ll interview these people as well.It happens very organically so i’ll just literally getting my truck and drive,i’ll do very little research,i’ll have a paper map,and I sleep in the back of my truck so I do it very frugally but it’s good, for me I like that sense of being outside like a bit of suffering it reminds me of travelling overseas in some of the places and ways I like to travel .It’s nice I really enjoy it, it’s hard not going to lie,but it’s something I feel like I need to do and for me it’s about the people images,i’m just taking the pictures I want it to be about the people and I want to share these stories with whoever wants to hear about them. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Do you have any social media channels dedicated specifically to that project? 

Jeremy Fokkens: I don’t. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: You should. 

Jeremy Fokkens: Yeah, thank you, That’s one thing I need to do ,I like writing about it ,alot , I really enjoy the writing process.I’m not a writer by any means I don’t think. I’m really enjoying that process and sharing in depth stories about these people along with the imagery and a bit of the process that goes behind in creating these images as well , I like to do a bit of time lapse behind the scenes just so people can see in what goes into taking these pictures as well, it’s not just a pretty 

picture.Its evolving,quite fast actually.I was just in Northwest territories in northern Alberta this may and the imagery is starting to shift a little from when I first started in 2014 which is really cool , which is what I expected and I expect it to keep changing in the next 10 years so, 

Jonathan Hafichuk: It would be really cool if you had a dedicated Facebook and Instagram page, humans of New York is one of the most successful things on Facebook. 

Jeremy Fokkens: And I love humans of New York,I love the questions they ask on humans of New York ,that’s a great suggestions I should , I should probably do that. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: I feel like you’d get a lot of momentum because it’s so non commercialized ,you’re not trying to sell anything. 

Jeremy Fokkens: No im not, it’s all stories , it’s about the people , I don’t want it to be about a photographer and these epic adventures and loud thunderous music. No, no I want this, I genuinely want to share these stories with people, there are some amazing stories out there,I’ve met some of the most incredible people. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Yeah endeavours like that are so rare, I feel like people really appreciate it when someone whos really going out not to try and make a profit but actually because they care about something. 

Jeremy Fokkens: I think that’s when that genuine intention comes from ,I think if you’re going to create something or if you’re going to work in anything that you do ,I think it needs to start with why am I doing this? And if money ever comes up in that big equation , I think you’re doing something, I don’t think that’s not right.I think there’s a lot more important things in this world than just monetary gain, Don’t get me wrong, we all gotta make a living but I think there’s something so wonderful about doing something because you genuinely just love it. I always ask the question other photographers “ if you didn’t make a living or you didn’t make any money doing it, would you still be doing it ?” For me that answer is an immediate yes, I would, I’d still be shooting, I’d still be shooting just as much. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: So how can people keep up with this project? Do you have a newsletter they can subscribe to? 

Jeremy Fokkens: Yes!I do, if they want to go to the blog, that’s great, just Jeremyfokkens.com/blog and on the side just a subscribe button, enter your email.I only send a newsletter for that project,I don’t sell anything, you won’t get bombarded with weekly emails,you’ll get an email anywhere between 1 to maybe 2 or 3 a month,if that, it takes a lot of time, like I said there’s only certain parts of the year that I go out because it’s the only time I really have.But I try and separate the posts as often just so then it’s a once a month, that you’re going to get a wonderful little story pop up in your inbox, you can enjoy it with a coffee it’s just solely a story about a really wonderful individual in a place you’ve probably never heard of or been to. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Very cool, I’m excited, I’m going to definitely subscribe. 

Jeremy Fokkens: Thank you , yeah I have fun doing it. 

Jonathan Hafichuk: Thank you so much for your time today , I really appreciate it. Jonathan Hafichuk: Our first sponsor is Symbol Syndication, which is a video production company that I started. We do video production and online marketing for businesses of all sizes ranging from Solopreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. 

Our second sponsor is Gravity Cafe, they have been gracious enough to give us their space, the coffee is awesome, they have live music 3 nights a week, the beer is great it’s an awesome place to come hangout. 

Another sponsor of the Ambition Project is BusinessLink. BusinessLink is Alberta’s entrepreneurial hub.They are a non profit organization that helps people navigate the steps towards starting their own businesses. Just because you’re in business for yourself doesn’t mean you’re in business by yourself. BusinessLink’s team of in house start-up experts are there to support you all along the way. 

Our next sponsor is the Better Business Bureau. Your BBB helps businesses build visibility, credibility, savings, leads, and community through BBB accreditation while funding free marketplace services with more than a million instances of service to consumers every year. Visit BBB.org/calgary to learn more today . 

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