The various genres of photography usually each have their own unique approaches and characteristics. The photographer Bill Ward describes himself as a contemporary landscape photographer. However, when I ask about his approach and intention, I get an answer I would rather expect from street photographers: "My main interest and subject is "time": I am interested in concretely exploring what it feels like to spend this special time in this special place. He emphasizes that he is not looking for the special place where he can 'get Mother Nature to give him the image he imagined' ... he's looking for places where he can build an emotional connection that has meaning for him. And these places he likes to find in the open landscape, at 'Mother Nature' - as he calls it himself. Often and gladly at the water, at the sea. But he also finds special places in urban areas. Depending on where he is. Like many street photographers, he lets himself drift intuitively and doesn't follow a premeditated concept. Photography as celebration and expression of pausing, of looking. The exploration of the 'here' and 'now'.
Bill Ward uses photography to balance himself. Photography as the antithesis of another life world. In his main profession he is a television and theatre actor (which need not be mentioned in English-speaking countries, as he is very well known there). So he spends a lot of time with eccentric people, in energetic environments, working in staccato rhythm, always observing and highly concentrated - an atmosphere he loves, needs and can enjoy. But he also needs the opposite pole, or let's say the counterweight: the heaviness of acting and the ease of drifting and finding each other again.
Bill Ward came to photography like many of us. Already at the age of 6 years he got a Kodak Insamatic and photographed the usual subjects of little boys: cars, dogs, locomotives ... but surprisingly also landscapes. Later - in his 20 years - he travelled a lot in the world: Asia, South America ... here he already used an SLR camera. The experience of the foreign, the evaluation and processing of exotic foreign culture became more intensive and easier through photography. And as a photographer he has a good reason to just sit around and look. Photography also means to connect with the place, the things and the people - to see his existence through the camera and on later prints with different eyes. Bill Ward is also very aware that a camera provides anything but an objective point of view. That's why he also uses the technique for other perspectives and experiments quite subjectively with the means of photography. If you look at a series of his pictures, single-shot shots and multiple exposures as well as short and long exposures blend harmoniously. Because every place and moment has its own peculiarity and requires a special technique and reaction.
More than 10 years ago Bill Ward had to take a contractual break as an actor. He took the chance to work as a photographer for 3 months. It was one of the coldest winters in decades and a very special series was created. By chance he had an engagement at a theater, which also ran a gallery. There he could show his current series and since then many exhibitions and awards followed. If you look at the website of this photographer you will see that here an artist uses photography not only as a balance to everyday life. The different series show that Bill Ward is focused and intensive in his work not only as a performing but also as a visual artist and uses photography as a second professional pillar. To the usual question of why he uses PENTAX and RICOH cameras, he has given an answer that we absolutely must reproduce here in the original, because it sounds too beautiful to be allowed to write it ourselves:
"I love Pentax cameras. I've always found them extremely rugged, built for purpose, and the weather sealing is invaluable for the kind of photography I do. The magnesium alloy bodies on the cameras are strong and solid, and the full frame lens line up, from the legacy film lenses to the new DFA series, is absolutely first rate. All that, and at a cost effective price, which is hugely important in my line of work. Can't beat it."
Bill Ward's project, which we present here, is less a completed project than an ongoing series, subject to an idea and a method: ICM - Intentional Camera Movement - which in German is sometimes called 'gestural photography'. With shutter speeds between 1/20 and 2 seconds, the camera is moved, blurring details and creating movement traces. You lose the documentary sharpness and gain abstraction. By creating the approximate, the emotional expression of the images is intensified. You could also put it like this: the less I can recognize and read precisely, the more I, as a viewer, have to bring in my own experiences, memories and expectations, and thus every viewer conquers the picture very subjectively and also very intensively.
This method, which Bill Ward likes to combine experimentally with multiple exposures, has a lot to do with his general intention: learning instead of determining. In other words, to get to know a place, explore it and create an image as a deeper means of direct observation. Because the later viewing of the picture creates an additional extended experience, a renewed and different perception of the place. Not only with regard to the viewers of an exhibition, but first simply for oneself as a photographer.
The movement of the camera, the multiple exposures also have something directly to do with one of man's most natural sensory possibilities: it's like a caress, a constant touch. Or also a repeated viewing. In other words, it is a sensory experience that feeds our intuition rather than our conscious knowledge. Because experience is more than knowledge. Of course, this is already very deeply embedded in photography, but Bill Ward's method focuses strongly on exactly this level of experience ... by reducing the variety of details he strengthens the emotional values and by moving this method also comes close to performance or dance. Two expressive possibilities, which are probably close to the actor Bill Ward. And at the same time this spontaneous and intuitive method is also called the 'free jazz of photography' - without a cognitive program, i.e. without a sheet of music, just get started ...
And that sounds a bit like painting, because you can't deny that many of Bill Ward's paintings resemble the palette of his fellow countryman William Turner (1775 - 1851). Turner had the misfortune to have been a painter before the invention of photography and probably had no desire to switch to photography ... especially since it was then still reduced to black and white. So we are lucky that Bill Ward was born a few years later and makes his camera his brush.
He is using following gear: Pentax K-1 with HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8 ED SDM WR; Pentax K-70 with HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR; RICOH GR III