William Spell Jr.Welcome to my photography website where I hope to share with you a love of the pictorial expression of many things. Click “Home” on menu above or site title to view thumbnails of all works.  Though street photography is my favorite genre to work in, I also quite like urban photography along with more abstract works and occasionally landscape and portrait (usually street portraiture) photography.

Street photography excites me. I’m more puzzled than amused by web articles with titles like “Conquering Your Fear of Street Photography”. Going up to strangers and taking their pictures without them knowing it is not, to me, a scary thing. It’s an exciting thing. I suspect that among those who say they fear street photography that it is the excitement that they mistake for fear. After all, I’m about to take a moment, a decisive moment, Henri Cartier-Bresson would say, of a person’s life in time and space and preserve it forever. Hopefully, a delightful or poignant or at the very least memorable moment. And if I’m good enough, and smart enough, and fast enough, and very, very lucky, perhaps even make that moment immortal.

As for urban photography, what can I say, I’m a city boy. Jackson, my current city, isn’t big by any means, but I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia which is a suburb of Washington, DC and the southern gateway to the East Coast Seaboard. Like most older cities, Jackson has seen it’s share of declines and rebounds, often and mysteriously occurring at the same time. Urban decay fascinates me, but so does shiny neon and architectural details from beaux art and postmodern structures. Urban photography strikes me as being something of a handmaiden of street photography. Street photography without the people, as it were. Not that I’m keen on categorization. I hate it as applied to art. No artist in her right mind would categorize her art.  Nor should she. A good street photograph can be minimalist, for example. Or it can be abstract, even surreal. My menu items above are the product of much hand wringing. Like painting, photography has gravitated toward a few very general categories. Still lifes. Landscape. Street and Urban of course. Portraits. That sort of thing. But categorizing something by saying, “this is abstract”, or, “this is minimalist”, or, worse, categorizing something by “movement”, this I disdain and leave to others, although I may more or less strive for a particular effect or a certain look.  I have settled on a few categories in the menu purely for navigational purposes.

I wish I were a good enough artist to transcend all that. What would a photograph that is unclassifiable as to category or style even look like? One of two things, I figure, and one is very bad and the other is very good. No middle ground there.

Portrait of the young man as an artistMy training in photography is autodidactic. I say this knowing that to pronounce something “didactic” is to level an almost dismissive criticism of a work as strained or forced. What I mean is that I’m self-taught. I’m pretty much self taught in everything, except for English and literature and history, which I formally studied at a small college in my native Mississippi that you’ve probably never heard of. My formal training and former profession is in law. One small exception to a lack of formal art education is the tutelage of Ms. Angel Faulkner who taught me watercolor when I was a child. For a few years I would go to her studio where she would have a page cut out of a magazine of a subject which she would use to teach me painting. As well as the occasional still life she would put together from objects and fruit in her house. Such exotic objets d’art to a small boy. After a while, I had enough watercolor paintings for a show. A hundred people came. I sold a few paintings to a few relatives. I was a professional artist at the age of eight, I figured. But what remained of that has been a lifelong reverence for art, and an aspiration for it.

I have a tremendous regard for professional photographers and for those who have paid their dues in photography and in art. If I achieve something here it will be more by way of luck than by way of my personal abilities. I cannot point to any one famous photographer, or any one well known style or technique as influencing my  own artistic choices. There are simply too many that have so much to offer as inspiration. And it’s the same with contemporary photographers. I do not try to emulate anyone but believe that an artist can emulate everyone in the sense that all artists have something to show and teach in the way of creativity and expression.

Please enjoy these pictures, and if you like them, share them with your friends on your favorite social media. And feel free to leave a comment. I am delighted and honored to have you as a visitor.