William Self Photographer. Images of Essence.
I’ve always been drawn to the profound Beauty of Nature
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, on the Eastern side of Washington State, in the city of Spokane. I attended Washington State University in Pullman and earned a degree in Zoology. While living there I was awe struck by the magnificent landscape of the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse. This inspired me to capture this Beauty on film. Thus was born my pursuit to photograph the landscape and realize on photographic paper the Essence of that Beauty.
I continued my postgraduate education in Seattle, attending the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Even then, I was determined to find opportunities to continue photographing, keeping alive my passion to capture images of landscape, architecture, and still life subjects. From this early 35mm work, I developed a style that emerged as a more abstract interpretation of subject matter.
I soon upgraded to a medium format camera (Pentax 6x7 system) and began to photograph in greater detail, the mood and subtleties of landscapes, and the fine textures of architecture and abstract subjects. My creative vision has always appreciated the value of Color, as well as Black and White, to best capture an image in a way that was imagined as a final work of photographic art. As a result, my portfolio contains both Color and Black and White images.
I thought bigger must be better, so I moved on to a 4x5 view camera and soon after followed with an 8x10 Wista field camera. Along with this increase in the size of film, I also began to use exclusively color transparency film (4x5 and 8x10 inch slides). By viewing these large transparencies on a light box, I was finally seeing for the first time, that I was near to capturing that true Essence of the Beauty of Landscape. To bring the panoramic vistas into my work I added a Fuji 6x17 cm panoramic camera and four lenses. For the last 12 years I have relied on digital capture with Canon dslr cameras and lenses. Most recently however I have shifted to the Sony a7rMrk II.
My interest has continued to focus on the landscapes of the Northwest and Southwest, however many trips to India and Thailand have provided opportunities to photograph my other passion, that being the abstract compositions of architecture. The architectural images are composed to work with the flow of lines, textures, shadows and color. There is a vibrant and dynamic impact that these images project, and it excites me to see that “magic” take shape on the ground glass of the view camera. The abstract images are an attempt to find a unique point of view that captures a "hidden composition" revealing a more artistic expression. I often make an effort to photograph landscape images with more of a "painterly" look to present an interpretation that looks more like a painting.
Photography always begins with seeing. It’s a result of a visual stimulus that draws the attention toward a particular object, but at that moment, how one responds to this visual experience is very subjective and personal. My own vision of photography is to quickly assess all of the elements that make up this moment of “seeing” and try to visualize a composition with proper rendering of light that will best capture the “Essence” of what is being viewed at that moment. Often there are contrasting elements working against the cohesive flow, chaos in constant motion. The challenge is to bring this chaos into order.
Sometimes this means returning to the same location at a different time of day to have a quality of light that balances and brings the composition into harmony. It seems that more often than not, however; it requires a frantic reaction to the beauty of that moment. The harmony is there, the epiphany is fleeting, and the moving clouds and changing light waits for no one.
Each image has a story to tell, not only in what it represents to the viewer, but what was required of the photographer, to capture in that one moment, the essential balance and harmony of Form projecting that feeling as well as the visual content of the moment.
I hope you enjoy what has been given out of Grace, and caught on film, often by skill and technique, but always by the phenomenal beauty of nature and the transcendent quality of Light.