‘The Newspaper Man’

For 30 years, Vince Fedoroff has been viewing the Yukon through the lens of a camera.

As a photographer for the Whitehorse Star, his long blond hair and laid-back smile have become fixtures at cultural and sporting events around the city.

To see Fedoroff is to know that you are in the right place.

Like many people, Fedoroff fell into his vocation half by accident: “I started working for The Star in 1974, sweeping the floors,” he says.

Fedoroff made the most of this unglamorous position and started inspecting other aspects of life in the newspaper business.

“I learned how to operate the press and became the back-up pressman,” he says.

His can-do attitude must have made a good impression on the editor, because when Fedoroff began experimenting with the paper’s photography equipment, no one tried to stop him.

But even as Fedoroff began to pick up the cameras and see what they could do, a job was the last thing on his mind: “It was just for me, just for fun,” he says about his initial foray into the world of captured images.

But, of course, one thing led to another. A position opened up in the dark room and Fedoroff, with natural curiosity about photography, was the natural choice.

“I developed film and printed pictures for editorials. It was a very involved job,” he says, “it wasn’t as easy as it is today.”

Still, for Fedoroff, the darkroom gave him a chance to unwind and escape from the stimuli of the outside world: “When you go into a darkroom, there are no distractions so you can just focus on what you’re doing.”

Fedoroff uses the same nostalgic tone of voice that a grandfather might use when he explains the pleasures of a simpler time.

It was inevitable that Fedoroff would eventually be promoted to full-time photographer and, in the late 70s, he undertook this new challenge with limited experience, but loads of enthusiasm.

Fedoroff has never had any formal training in photography, but he’s not ashamed of this. In fact, he’s a little bit proud: “I come from the Vince School of Photography,” he laughs.

About a decade ago The Vince School of Photography experienced a sudden shift in curriculum. The old technology of film was fading fast and digital images were on the march.

Fedoroff’s beloved darkroom became obsolete. However, unlike the sentimental grandfather who never fully trusts modern bells and whistles, Fedoroff met the challenges of the digital age head on – with his trademark smile intact.

“It was exciting being on the ground floor of a lot of new technology,” he says.

Still, at the end of the day, Fedoroff’s job isn’t about fancy equipment; it’s about the people he photographs, and he has never forgotten this.

“I get to meet and photograph athletes, politicians and artists,” he says.

But Fedoroff’s real soft spot will always be reserved for children: “Most of the kids recognize me as ‘the newspaper man’. They get so excited about being in the paper and it’s extremely gratifying to put them there.”

Peter Jickling is a Whitehorse playwright and the assistant editor of What’s Up Yukon

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