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Art & Life with William Edwin Willis

Today we’d like to introduce you to William Edwin Willis.

William Edwin, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
As a photographer who focuses primarily on Seascapes and Ocean Art, I’m responsible for shooting and editing all the images you see on my website. I’m the co-owner of William Edwin Willis Photography, along with my wife, Tara. I bring an unusual collection of skills and experiences to bear on my photographic work. After earning a B.A. in English from Missouri Southern State University, I tried and failed to get writing jobs at every major news outlet in the country, including Rolling Stone Magazine, where I had interned my junior year. Instead, I traveled around the United States until I landed in St. Louis at the Riverfront Times, a leftwing weekly, to work not as a writer but as an executive in sales and marketing. It wasn’t until I was 40 years old that I first picked up a camera, a clunky, dysfunctional Panasonic Lumix FZ35. I quickly upgraded to the Sony a7 series cameras (and Sony and Zeiss lenses) and continued shooting mostly street photography in the city and landscapes in the Illinois countryside. I also started doing paid work for Pacific Sotheby’s Realty in and around St. Louis, which planted the seed that I could do this for a living. After my wife and I moved to Imperial Beach, I decided to start working full-time as a photographer, and today I sell my work at Art Shows in the San Diego area. You can also find me at the Imperial Beach Farmers’ Market on most Fridays, where I showcase and sell my work at the Imperial Beach Pier.

My main area of interest is the incredible San Diego coastline. In most of my images, I’m trying to render water in an interesting and unique way. There are so many different kinds of water. Within 2 miles of my house is the Pacific Ocean, the San Diego Bay, and the Tijuana Sloughs, and each of these bodies of water behaves differently depending on the time of day, the type of moon, and the weather, among other things. As a result, I’m usually trying to reconcile my ability, and artistic bent with whatever Mother Nature throws at me. As you look through my work, I hope you notice the various ways I’ve captured the rolling, roiling ocean. The ocean is always a little different every time I return to it, and I try to render that variation in my camera.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
When I go to the beach, I’m looking for a number of complementary elements. Generally, I’m looking for imaginary lines that connect actual things together. Does that make any sense? For example, does the boulder five feet in front of me line up well with the rocks that are further out? Is the tide creating a pleasing effect on all these rocks? Are the clouds working for or against the scene immediately in front of me? Does it all come together? Should I move five feet to the left or right? Do I need to slow the water down to give it a silky look? I spend the majority of my time trying to reconcile the movement of the water of the ocean and how it affects the many elements that make up the photograph I’m trying to take. I’m obsessed with the ocean and how it ebbs and flows into the coastline. People who come into contact with my work tend to have favorable reactions, and I think it’s because, among other things, I’ve carefully considered the movement of the ocean and rendered it in a compelling way.

My artisan statement is here:

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
Gosh, we’re all doing our own thing, so I guess we’re all facing different challenges. Right now I’m trying to decide if I should focus even more in Imperial Beach (where I live) and the South Bay area, or if I should stretch out to the rest of San Diego as well. And if I decide to stretch, do I have the infrastructure to do it. And will it succeed? Tough questions. I continue to create new relationships in IB and the South Bay. I just scheduled to show my work at Harborfest in Chula Vista at the end of summer. That’s exciting. I suspect I’ll do a bit of both – slowly push out while trying to maintain my current obligations.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I got my start at the Imperial Beach Farmers Market, where I still show and sell my work every Friday. I also show at the Encinitas Seaside Bazaar occasionally. I’ve done a few art shows as well, and I’m incredibly excited to show my work in this year’s San Diego Festival of the Arts.

My website, and my social media platforms (Facebook: William Edwin Willis Photography – Instagram: williamedwinwillis) are great ways to see what I’m up to. I usually post my newest work on social media first before it goes onto my website or gets printed for show.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
William Edwin Willis

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