McMaster looks beyond the lens
"Like a light at the end of a long tunnel of media coverage and reputation debate at our university, shines the story of an accomplished Concordia graduate making a difference in the world. Philip McMaster is settling down from a life of globe-trotting and adventure to mold impressionable young minds."


McMaster looks beyond the lens

Former Concordia University student puts his world expeditions on the backburner to teach DAWSON COLLEGE students

By Andrea Young

Like a light at the end of a long tunnel of media coverage and reputation debate at our university, shines the story of an accomplished Concordia graduate making a difference in the world. Philip McMaster is settling down from a life of globe-trotting and adventure to mold impressionable young minds.

"I'm passionate about passionate people," says the self proclaimed adventurer. "Every program I'm involved in all have to do with passionately pursuing dreams to ultimately to help other people."

His current ventures include two innovative specialized photography courses he has developed at the Dawson College Centre for Imaging Arts and Information Technologies. At a continuing educational level, McMaster emphasizes the development of backstage access skills and understanding human behaviour around cameras in real-life situations.

"You plan to be flexible, for what you don't know is going to happen," says McMaster. "I've been in situations where getting the shot is getting out alive."

Event, sports and adventure photography (ESA), photography and public relations (PR) are the by-products of his world travels and business experiences.

ESA has historically lead him to brazen out difficult situations such as the dangerous environments of Chiapas, Mexico to Stanley Cup riots in Montreal and from jungle expeditions in Central America to free-fall parachute jumping over the Caribbean islands. PR is the ultimate recognition and preparation for winning shot opportunities.

"What I've learned is if you want to get the shot, you must negotiate and learn people skills," says McMaster, employing his experiences from his freelance photojournalist days at La Presse. He hopes the success of the courses will develop a university level program for students missing higher learning from their field.

The psychology behind photographic methods has been overshadowed in the classroom where the focus is placed on the technical and artistic aspects. However, Concordia structures its courses around conceptual, theoretical and historical understanding and practices.

"The photography department at Concordia focuses on the artistic aspect of the medium," says Jean Pierre Duchesne, the enrolment and student affairs manager for the department of fine arts at Concordia . "What [McMaster] is offering at Dawson sounds commercially and media oriented."

Duchesne verifies that every year departments offer a number of special topic courses which exists currently on the curriculum. "The department of studio arts is looking at their curriculum to revise it," he says. "However, it is a slow process that will remain the same for another two years."

Born in Val-Morin, McMaster has lived in cities across the globe but nothing beats home. "I'm the type of person who requires a civilized environment with the right amount of "joie de vivre.' Montreal is the best place to live in the world."

He has recently completed his MBA at the Écoles des Hautes Études Commerciales and holds a degree in Applied Human Sciences from Concordia. He is proud of his almamater.
"Concordia is a non-conformist and international university with students from all over the place. Even their Canadian student population is not all from the same mold, unlike other universities," says McMaster. "People don't go to Concordia for its reputation but for its product."

"My mission is to show people that the world is not a scary place. University is the opportunity to utilize the miniature world to test out your skills for the real world," he says reassuringly. "The emphasis should be on networking, not necessarily work. You learn about the world from the people around you."

McMaster has founded and been involved with various non-profit and environmentally responsible organizations throughout his career. To name a few: Explorasport Worldwide, an international adventure company which organizes adrenaline inducing activities for its members anywhere from Hong Kong to the pyramids; Eco Task Force, a non profit group linking local environmental groups around the world and providing them with advice and volunteers; and the Cool to be Canadian project, a non-profit organization and campaign based in Montreal aimed at redefining Canadian nationalism and helping neighbors in distress. The latter had fulfilled its mandate by sending its volunteers to join the flood-relief efforts in Manitoba in 1997 and ice-relief efforts in Montreal during the Ice Storm a year later.

McMaster will be teaching on a part-time basis at Dawson and he is still looking for others to fill gaping positions. "Experience eventually comes with age and a few failures," he says. He maintains that open, interested and gregarious attitudes triumph over the pressure to be experienced in the workforce. He will devote the rest of his time to various new projects in current development.

McMaster has seen ecological destruction while journeying across the globe and ultimately wants to create a program promoting environmental sustainability.
"I want to propose a system of teaching where people can become adventure technologists whereby helping tourism companies market their programs better to reduce environmental waste and damage," he says enthusiastically.
Wishing to serve the urgent need to control and educate tourism businesses and their customers, McMaster plans on implementing training and adventure centres everywhere.

"Now the television ads, where business consulting firms are depicted as risk takers by displaying a parody of skydiving and rock climbing images to support their claim, can actually be attributed to our cause. Save the world and have a good time doing it," he says.

For more information about Dawson College's photography course go here (www.f-pro.ca/courses/ciait_course_flier.pdf) or www.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/ciait