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BetterPhoto Photography Interview with William Neill - Part II

You have been writing a popular Outdoor Photographer magazine column - "On Landscape" - for 10 years. You provide so much insight in the column... far beyond the strict technical aspects of f/stops and shutter speeds. Could you share your thoughts and goals behind the column? Also, do you find that the process of thinking about the column - as well as the actual writing of it - has helped you in the continuing development of your own photography?


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William Neill:

My goal for the column has been to inspire, encourage, prod and ponder. I try to be helpful both technically and creatively regarding landscape and nature photography, with the hope that readers will push themselves creatively. I want readers to think about what they want to say with their images. Writing the columns (71 and counting!) is a very difficult process, especially when I am trying to extract ideas in my head and put them on paper (well, on my computer). However, the process does help me focus in on ideas that are important to me, and therefore, my work.

What do you like MOST about your professional life?

William Neill:

Creating photographs that reconnect me to the experiences I've been lucky to have is a great joy. Having viewers of my images feel moved and inspired is very rewarding!

What do you like the LEAST about running your professional life?

William Neill:

Since I am the sole employee here, I do all jobs or they don't get done. It is very hard work that doesn't match up with the idealized picture many folks have about the nature photography business. I find time to photograph about 5% of my working hours.
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Having lived in or around Yosemite National Park for many years, do you have any tips for photographers coming to the park?

William Neill:

Having lived in the Yosemite area for the past 30 years, it has been a blessing to watch the seasons change, to see the magic light created by passing storms, and to witness uncountable sunrises and sunset. I love the challenge of creating images that go beyond the ordinary. Iconic scenes surround photographers visiting the park, and so one has to make an effort to move past creating derivative imagery.

To me, there is a process that leads to making fresh images. First, one needs to find a strong composition, with great light, and then click the shutter. Then push beyond that first exposure, and experiment. Try using more sky or no sky or a longer lens or whatever might bring a different look to the composition. Try a different angle or viewpoint, away from the usual locations. Study the light and weather patterns. Then come back, and try again!

< -- Part I   Part III -- >

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