Name: Bill Foster
Occupation: Retired Navy, political science grad student, photographer
Where are you from?
I was born in Savannah, Ga., and moved my whole life between there and Washington, D.C.
How long have you been in Knoxville?
I’ve been traveling through for about six years, but only settled down here in the past year.
Did your life in D.C. influence your choice to pursue political science?
Absolutely. Growing up in D.C., I went on tons of field trips and even got to see Reagan driving around. When I was 16, some friends and I knocked on Tip O’Neill’s door and he showed us around. I have a passion for political science. I believe that government is good. The biggest cancer in our society is the assumption that government is evil.
Did your passion influence your decision to join the Navy?
Somewhat. But I mainly joined because I was poor. I lived in a trailer park and college wasn’t an option. I spent 20 years in the Navy as an electronics engineer, most of it in Italy and Spain. I have no regrets about joining the military. It really straightened me out and allowed me to pursue my college degrees.
How did you get into photography?
About eight years ago I started taking photos with a film camera in Spain. I couldn’t get the colors to come out the way I wanted, though. I was happy when digital came along. It gave me so many more options and freedom. At that time I was in Kosovo taking pictures of Orthodox churches that were in danger of being destroyed. I have taken photos in Serbia, Siberia, Russia, China, you name it. No matter how long my work day was, I always made it a point to take photos every single day.
How has your love of photography translated here in Knoxville?
We have a very unique, vibrant music scene. It’s not really recognized by the world at large. I’m concerned that a lot of us are influenced by clichés. I’m trying to get away from that and do something very unique. I really love this scene and I love documenting it.
How would you describe your fashion style?
I really have no personal style of my own. My style is really my girlfriend’s. She thinks men should look like men—plaid shirts and jeans. We definitely disagree on shoes, though. She doesn’t think grown men should wear Chucks. One thing I do is wear red laces in my shoes. I had a very good friend that was killed by an IED in Iraq. He always wore red laces. So now I wear them in memory of him.
Shirt: Lucky outlet store, two years ago, $12
Hat: Meyer the Hatter in New Orleans—my personal hat guy.
Shoes: Navy Post Exchange in Kosovo, 2002, $20