Friday 23rd September – Clubnight with David Foster, the Ragman

“The Prince of Darkness” is his title in Russia – to the rest of the world he’s known as The Ragman . The name on his passport is David Foster and he’s a County Down man whose photographs are the link between a small studio in Millisle and online friends on every continent.

David presented a fascinating account of his international adventures to the members – a welcome return to the Ward Avenue venue where he’d been a member and Competition Secretary for many years. Five years ago another interest, hockey called him away and since then he has been restoring the fame and fortunes of the University of Ulster Ladies’ team. However he never lost his passion for the clicking shutter and merely diverted his enthusiasm into the internet via Red Bubble, an international community of photographers and artists. David’s online name,The Ragman far from being derogatory is a compliment to his ability to see potent, dramatic images in the most banal ,everyday situations and objects. Railway lines, manhole covers and brick walls feature regularly in his portrayals and with the creative use of lighting he illustrates the difference between merely looking and seeing.

David Foster with Eddie Wright and Trevor Craig

The “Prince of Darkness” sobriquet is a nod to his penchant for high contrast, monochrome pictures with a touch of intrigue, mystery or even menace. His style is now widely recognised and he illustrated his portfolio with audio-visual presentations.

Red Bubble is like a vast, international camera club, he explained but instead of fifty or sixty members seeing your images there could be hundreds or even thousands viewing, assessing and offering feedback on your entries.The site attracts up to half a million visitors a day and given the Irish influence in America there is added interest from that country  in any contributions from this part of the world. The community also caters for specialist interest groups and David administers one which specializes in pictures of Northern Ireland. Many lasting friendships have been forged over the message boards and David has visited members from Spain and Cornwall as well as receiving visitors from various European countries. He related the delightful story of one couple from Greece who arrived at his village and not knowing his real name or address proceeded to knock on doors and ask where they could find The Ragman!

Although there is a commercial side to the site- members can offer their pictures and designs for use on tee-shirts, hoodies and  the like, David enjoys it mainly for the bond amongst photographers of many different races and cultures.

John Bennett


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