Scotland, 2013

Glamis Castle

Robert Capa supposedly said, “If your pictures aren’t strong enough, you’re not close enough.” While the phrase might have reached cliche status through repetition, it is still no less true. Most photographs suffer from too much information. (I know you were anxious to have my opinion on that.)

Plein air painting and street photography have some things in common–leaving the comfort and control of a studio, and focusing on ordinary, pedestrian subjects, but there is one fundamental, foundational difference, and I’m making no argument for either being superior, just different. Painting is additive. One starts with blank paper or canvas or …, and adds elements to build the composition.

Photography is subtractive. One starts with a given scene or situation and has to find ways to eliminate everything non-essential in that scene. A big first step (pardon the pun) is to get closer.

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Tanzania, 2006

Serengeti sunrise

We left our bush camp pre-dawn for an early morning game drive. As the black sky became orange, we could see where the sun would break the horizon. There was this Acacia tree just standing there doing nothing. Sometimes a photograph is a gift from the universe.

Of course, you have to be there when it happens, and you have to see it in time to catch it, but other than that, nothing to it.

For more of Bill’s photographs, go to

Kuching, Malaysia, 2014

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. Politically it consists of portions of Malaysia and Indonesia, and all of Brunei. It is also one of the only two places in the world to find orangutans in the wild.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice.” I’m more inclined to think it is “detrimental” rather than such an absolutist position as “fatal,” but I do think it offers perspective, if you seek it.

There are many and varied reasons for traveling. An important one for me is the expectation that I will see something that I am unlikely to see at home.

For more of Bill’s photographs, go to