Portfolio: Fredric Roberts
A Column by Kara Fox
The Magnificent Power Of Photography
“When I look at the people I photograph, I see that they have a larger vision of life, a vision that transcends monetary wealth. It is about their relationship with their god, with their land, neighbors, and family. It is the power of those relationships that I want to communicate.”
… Fredric Roberts
As we cross paths with our needs of the moment and what we need suddenly appears, I smile and wonder, why? In searching for answers I know I’ll never find, I think, “the wizard did it!” Well, perhaps it was “the wizard” who guided me towards a photograph by Fredric Roberts hanging on the wall in my friend’s home.
So powerful was this photograph that I stood, unmoving, feeling driven by that unknown force, wanting to see and know more. Who is Fredric Roberts? The man, the artist, the philanthropist? To answer the question properly, Neworldreview would have to give me the entire issue…there would be no room for even a word about anything or anyone else. Of course, this could never be, and i am hoping that our readers will embark on their own quest to learn more of this amazing man who is changing lives as he travels the world.
After a successful career in finance for 30 years, Fred Roberts retired from a life he didn’t love. He did love to travel, and after buying a new camera he embarked on a journey that was to change the direction of his accomplished life. He knew nothing about photography, not even how to insert the battery. While flying, manual in hand, he studied how to use his unblemished new camera. It was on this trip he was able to capture images so magnificent they caught the attention of some friends, who were members of the National Geographic team.
For the next 14 years the camera rested in his closet until something (perhaps the wizard) compelled him to begin a serious study of photography at The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Fortunately for the world, he was given enough encouragement for his extraordinary work to go on and become a man who is literally changing lives with the camera.
From his past, we can see how he became who he is today. A graduate of Yale University and The Hill School, he has learned how to get things done and he does not allow obstacles to clutter his path. He is an active member of the business and cultural communities in Los Angeles. He is an Emeritus Member of the Board of Directors, and former member of the Executive and Finance Committees of the Los Angeles Music Center, past President of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Also, he is Chairman Emeritus of the Music Center’s Fraternity of Friends and Founding Chairman of the Spotlight Awards Scholarship Program.
Mr. Roberts was a frequent lecturer for the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California Los Angeles and for the Young President’s Organization. He has also written several articles on corporate finance for Chief Executive Magazine.
Last, but not really last as there is simply too much more, he is the former Cellar Master of the Los Angeles chapter of the Commander de Bordeaux. If you are wondering how one man could do so much, it will come as no surprise that he has had difficulty with sleep!
Once officially retired, Fred fell in love with photography. And, as he had in business, once again, he was ‘uber’ successful. He created images unique and significant, winning many awards and critical acclaim. His work hangs in collections around the world. When asked how he gets such intimacy in his portraits, he explains that his connections are so intense and real because he genuinely likes the people he is photographing.
Before he works, he and his subject get to know each other. It is this intimacy that sets him apart from others. He produced three exquisite books, was having gallery and museum shows and in the midst of so much success, he realized his photography was becoming too much like a business. It was detracting from the good feelings he had. When he returned from the Kumbh Mela festival in India, he decided to modify the path he was traveling and he began his workshops for Third World kids.
Fredric Roberts is a philanthropist in the truest sense of the word by helping change the world in a positive way. The Fredric Roberts Photography Workshops, which Fred established more than 4 years ago, endeavors to “empower high school aged students around the world with the ability to express themselves through the medium of photography.” These workshops are led by the award-winning photographer as he brings his passion for story telling through still images. With the assistance of world-class photographers and teachers, a group of 20 students, half from rural areas and the other half from urban households, half girls and half boys, work together for seven days.
Fred developed the format of the workshop to encompass environmental issues, health issues and educational issues. Since 2011, Fred has concentrated on his workshops. In addition to exposing the kids to cameras (many of whom have never seen or touched an actual camera), the workshops get the kids to tell stories so that they might, one day, become storytellers on their own. Also, from these workshops comes a body of fabulous work to be used for fundraising and community relations by partner NGO’s. Funding for the workshops comes from old friends, and outside sources.
At the conclusion of these workshops, 2 cameras are donated with software to the workshops in order that the students can continue to further their skills and ultimately these kids will teach others. Additionally, some of the students will become teaching assistants as they hone their skills. The workshops have been held in Bhutan, Nicaragua, Tajikistan and in other countries with an ever expanding worlds in sight.
For a man so well traveled, I was curious as to his favorite place in the world. His answer was simple, “Wherever I am is my favorite place.”
“I’m a photographer now. And, while it wants to become a business, I won’t let it because I don’t want any of the strains of my old life to invade. And, my entire body of work – about people in third-world countries who, I believe have enormously rich lives but no economic wealth – is in many respects a repudiation of that old life.”
In my eyes, Fredric Roberts is using his brilliance in business, his talent as a photographer and his big heart to change the world! Look deeply as you view these images and you will feel something truly important while you view beautiful art.
Fred Roberts focus is no longer on himself. The fulfillment he has found in his own life is graciously being shared with an “us” that extends throughout much of the world.