Savannah, 2005

Washington Square

This is a view from my front porch. It doesn’t always look like this, of course. You would need rain, and oak re-leafing season when the leaves on the ground are so thick you could ski if they were snow flakes. And it’s been a while since the City planted this luscious tulip array. I’m sure that is at least partly a budget issue. Having gone through four City budget workshops, I’m well aware of the difficulty trying to fund everything, and that priorities must be set.

This also is my favorite time of day in downtown Savannah. In the mid 60’s, as a staff photographer for the Savannah Morning News/Evening Press, I noticed that starting around 5 PM and lasting until about 7 PM, downtown acquired a quiet stillness, as if the City had collectively taken a breath, and then held it. Back then that was largely due to the end of the work day and everyone emptying out of downtown, and then, exhaling, the City began evening social and civic activities after supper.

It’s been a while since we were that small town, and downtown doesn’t empty out anymore; quite the opposite. But I still feel that pause in the late afternoon, sitting in the square with the dog, and maybe a neighbor or two. And more times than not there is pretty or interesting light filtering through the trees and defining the old homes, and it feels like I have fallen into a fairy tale.

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North Carolina, 1998

In an A.I. world, the pleasure of a simple irony, found and photographed, will be diminished. Oh well.

Why did several generations who grew up on the Magic of Hollywood, from early Disney to CGI, ever presume any image was documentary to begin with? And all efforts to control A.I. will be modest, and ultimately fail, because technology always outruns regulation and, sometimes, evolution.

This photograph, however, is a real scene. I was driving through the Blue Ridge and Smokies, playing with one of the early (new then) point and shoot digital cameras (a little over a whopping 1 megapixel) as I made my way home from a company meeting in Virginia, and saw this along the road. The only changes I’ve made to the image are to trim some blank sky and parking lot off the top and bottom, add a little contrast and sharpening, and a black border. Trust me.

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Prague, 2001

The Marquis de Sade as a theme for a cafe seems odd to me. Maybe they have a wonderful menu, you order something that sounds really good, and then they show it to you from a distance but refuse to serve you?

Some years ago I use to drive I-95 down the Georgia coast into Florida regularly, for work, and there were billboards along the highway advertising a topless breakfast cafe, apparently a strip club’s efforts to expand their business. I was a little curious, and considered stopping a couple of times, but could never contort the mix of eggs, bacon, toast, and titillation into something that wasn’t off-putting, or just sad, and it seemed unlikely they would let me photograph there. On a recent drive to Jacksonville, I noticed the billboards are gone.

In Prague, the de Sade cafe around the corner was pretty bland looking. Maybe it was a disguise for a backroom with alternate menus, but I thought their ad here was a nice cross-marketing effort, placed between a head shop and a lingerie store.

For more of Bill’s photographs, go to

England, 2011

Ambleside, UK

We were in the Lake District for part of the photography trip/workshop, and our busload of students, staff, and instructors had all piled into the lobby of our “home” for the next few days, along with all photo gear and personal luggage. While waiting for everyone to get their room assignment and key, I decided to take care of business in the lobby Men’s Room.

As soon as I stepped in, I saw this and immediately stepped back into the lobby, grabbed my camera, and hustled back into the Men’s Room. I suspect a couple of eyebrows may have been raised, but sometimes you just know a picture is a photograph, even if you can’t explain it.

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Zimbabwe, 2011

Mosi-oa-Tunya, “Thundering Smoke”–Victoria Falls

“No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Dr. David Livingston

The Falls are at least as spectacular as you may have heard. The Zambezi River is the dividing line between Zambia (on the right here) and Zimbabwe. About five miles above the Falls the river channel starts widening, a little like a river delta, and calmly (deceptively) winding around small islands until it finds the gorge and tumbles in thunderously, then to follow an eroded meandering channel, on through Mozambique, and into the Indian Ocean.

There is a walking path on the ridge line opposite the Falls, and the views are worth the continuous shower from the mists billowing up, but for a photographer it was a little frustrating. I could not find an angle that came close to showing the volume and power of the flowing water, and even when I did see a potential shot, the ebb and flow of the heavy mist-clouds always obscured some portion of the scene.

We took the boat ride on the river above the Falls, but, as pleasant as it was for a way to enjoy a sunny afternoon, obviously there is no Falls photo from above the gorge, unless you go too close to the edge. No thank you. I quit thinking that holding a camera made me invincible sometime in my 30’s, a very long time ago.

For getting something close to a comprehensive view, a helicopter did the trick, but with little feel for the thunder, the pounding reverberating through your body, in your bones, when facing the cataract, soaking wet; an aural battering negating any other sound or sensation.

For more of Bill’s photographs, go to