Photographer Profile: Braden Fastier

Braden Fastier’s interest in photography can be traced back to some of his earliest memories. He recalls the childlike excitement that would build in the lead up to one of his father’s slideshows of family and friends.

Braden Fastier

Braden Fastier, Manly Daily

Mr Fastier recalled: “The slideshows used to be one of my favourite things to look forward to. The images were always so well composed. I think I just fell in love with the imagery, the ability for photographs to capture a moment.”

At high school he experimented with black and white film and discovered the magic of the darkroom where his first images emerged like an illusion under liquid and coloured lights.

“Shortly after, I got some of my images published in the free local newspaper. It was one of the most exciting moments,” Mr Fastier said.

“From then I decided I wanted to have photography as part of my life … particularly newspaper photography, because the medium is accessible to people.”

Braden Fastier

Braden Fastier won best sports photo in last year’s Community Newspaper Association awards for this image taken at the 2011 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships

He went on to study photography full-time at Southland Polytechnic in New Zealand for two years and spent every weekend of his second year of study photographing sport and submitting images to the local newsroom in the hope they would be deemed good enough to print.

The Southland Times in Invercargill soon offered him a job working alongside four other full-time photographers. He stayed at the paper for five years before moving to The Manly Daily where he remains, four and a half years later.

“The newspaper environment is something I love,” said Mr Fastier, citing deadlines, planning resources around the news-cycle, plus pushing boundaries, as some of his favourite aspects of the job.

“I find with newspapers there are boundaries and certain styles they prefer, but that makes it more interesting because they are things you can challenge.”

“Nine times out of ten it might not work, but for that one time, it’s worth it because you get something different and they like it. To me that’s what it’s all about: challenging yourself and challenging the traditional newspaper style of photography.”

Braden Fastier

An image from Braden Fastier’s award-winning ‘Mud Bath’ series.

Mr Fastier has won two major awards in 2012. He took out the Walkley community/regional photography prize and he also collected the sports photograph of the year gong (rural/regional/suburban category) at this year’s PANPA Newspaper of the Year Awards for an entry titled ‘Mud Bath’ – a superb photo essay of a rugby union game played in atrocious conditions.

“Sports photography is definitely one of my favourite areas of newspaper photography,” Mr Fastier said.

“It’s down to you to capture what’s happening and find some compositional way to show the movement and action, as well as making the most of the available light and conditions. It certainly one of the most challenging types of photography and it can be very rewarding.”

After more than nine years in the media industry, Mr Fastier is now seeing the well-established and traditional newspaper publisher model reposition itself as a multi-platform, seven-day operation amidst the biggest changes to hit the industry in the last century.

The changes have already seen many News Limited colleagues take redundancy, but luckily for Mr Fastier, the new digital-first environment is set up to reward innovation and his technical skill set.

Mr Fastier uses a Nikon DSLR and he carries a laptop and smartphone because the modern-day newsroom requires greater flexibility and mobility.

“With a lot of the jobs we go on now we’re required to file our photos straight afterwards,” said Mr Fastier, recalling an incident last year when a man attached a collar bomb to a Mosman schoolgirl’s neck.

“Pretty much after getting a few frames with my camera I took a photo with my iPhone and emailed it straight away for online.

“You just need to get a photo away as soon as possible and the iPhone is just perfect for that … the image can be up within three or four minutes, it’s amazing.”

Braden Fastier

Andrew McKinnon who takes part in international jousting competitions was photographed in his full suit of armour by Braden Fastier at Manly Beach.

A fan of social media, Mr Fastier is active on Flickr, Instagram and Twitter.

“With newspapers there are only certain news or events that make the printed publication. I use my phone throughout the day to capture moments around me that have no news angle or place in the newspaper.”

Breaking news events are the bread and butter of commercial media, but on social media, small everyday occurrences take centre stage, according to Mr Fastier.

“Social media provides an amazing platform for capturing the small things that happen in the world around you,” he said.

“A lot of it for me is finding some nice natural lighting opportunities, an interesting juxtaposition, and filling the frame with something or someone.

“All the stuff I do on Instagram and Twitter is shot on my iPhone, because that’s the challenge.

“It’s all about capturing something special with limiting and new technology.”

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