“Every shot I take of something beautiful, I’m preserving it. In the back of my mind, I know in 100 years it’s not going to look that way and possibly never again.”
Will started taking pictures when he was around 7. He would grab his dad’s camera and hope that he wouldn’t get caught. He was always nervous when his dad would take the film to be processed. Because, you know, they get developed and the gig is up… There would be some good photos in there he wouldn’t recognize, and he finally figured out it was Will who was taking them, so he gave him his own camera. That first camera was a Vivitar 110, and since then, he’s pretty much used everything from 4×5, to medium format, to 35 mm.
When he was about 18, he went on a road trip with a couple of friends fresh out of high school. They started at home in Knoxville, TN. They wanted to see Yellowstone and several other national parks along the way, with their ultimate goal of reaching Jackson Hole, WY, for the summer. He was hired at Mountain Camera in Jackson, with none other than Jon Stuart – who had been one of Ansel Adams assistants. Will used to help him research camera equipment, lenses, etc., and Jon would break out his 8×10 field camera and they’d play with that. He had a really great experience there and it kind of shaped him.
After obtaining a degree in Professional Photography from Colorado Mountain College, it came down to a coin flip between an opportunity for the LA Times as a photojournalist for the arts and entertainment division, or Fine Print Imaging in Fort Collins, CO. Will said, “It was a good coin flip.”
In Fort Collins, he became a master print maker and an ICG drum scan operator under the tutelage of Mark Lukes, founder of NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association. For nearly a decade, Will honed his craft collaborating with the finest nature photographers and artists in the world, many of whom often published in Outdoor Photographer Magazine and the National Geographic. “As a print maker I would listen to every detail of what my clients felt and saw when they were there. Then, I would try to reproduce that on print using an Iris 3047G or a ZBE Chromira. There is definitely a technical aspect, but you also rely somewhat on a feeling.”
The highlight came when he collaborated with Paul Unks at Mountain Hawk Productions. Will was responsible for remastering more than 125 of Edward Curtis’ turn of the century Native American portraits – widely considered the best and most complete photographic record of the Native American People ever recorded. The priceless photogravures, which were printed on silk and deteriorating at the Museum of Natural History in Denver, were remastered to make even Curtis himself proud. He recalled this was a “very spiritual experience.”
He is modest about his array of experiences including nearly 10 years as a top aerial and architectural photographer in Nashville, TN, working for Aerial Innovations of TN, and nearly 4,000 hours of aerial photography.
Will is an expert in color management. His past experience includes ICC beta testing for Fuji , Kodak and Praxisoft, during the development of digital photography and digital printmaking. As the recipient of numerous international industry awards, he continues to sell his fine art prints and stock images, and is published nationally.
He now resides in the 30A area of Santa Rosa Beach, FL, and enjoys working with Emerald Coast Real Estate Photography, LLC. To view all of his work, please visit: www.willsullivan.com.