William Neill | Oakhurst, California
William Neill, a resident of the Yosemite National Park area since 1977, is a landscape photographer concerned with conveying the deep, spiritual beauty he sees and feels in Nature. Neill's award-winning photography has been widely published in books, magazines, calendars, posters, and his limited-edition prints have been collected and exhibited in museums and galleries nationally, including the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Vernon Collection, and The Polaroid Collection. Neill received a BA degree in Environmental Conservation at the University of Colorado. In 1995, Neill received the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography.
The reason I photograph is to experience the beauty of Nature, of wild places. I explore the essential elements of rock and tree, of cloud and rushing water to discover the magic and mystery of the landscape. My search for beauty is romantic and idealistic. It is the spirit of the land I seek-be it in a small piece of urban wildness or in vast wilderness. Rachel Carson, in her book The Sense of Wonder, writes, "Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." Photography is a quiet, intensely meditative activity for me. Minor White, the Zen-influenced photographer, stated, "Be still with yourself, until the object of your attention affirms your presence." When the light and the subject inspire me, I am compelled to compose an image. The images that I enjoy making the most are those that rely on emotional response and perception rather than the spectacle of the scene. I enjoy isolating the details of a scene, often to the point of abstraction. By creating photographs where the content or orientation is not obvious, an intimate and enigmatic feeling can come through. I would rather make an image that asks a question than answers one, one that intrigues and arouses curiosity in the viewer.
Photographing wild landscapes, depicting an image of pristine beauty, absent of the intrusions of man, is a dangerous proposition bordering on creating a false mythology. Yet wild places do still exist. What little is left will be lost if we don't develop a new and enlightened stewardship of our earth where Nature and Man are not considered separately. Barry Lopez writes, "Wild landscapes are necessary to our being. We require them as we require air and water. But we need, at the same time, to create a landscape in which wilderness makes deep and eminent sense as part of the whole, a landscape in which wilderness is not an orphan." Perhaps the only way the world will change is for people to go through some kind of a profound aesthetic experience that makes us aware that we are personally accountable for our actions and how we affect the environment. I can only hope that my photographs convey an enduring sense of wonder, a deep appreciation of the magic, beauty, and mystery of the natural world.