SmugMug Corner #82: Rick Willis

As we have done for many, many Friday's gone past, it's time for another SmugMug Corner photographer interview. Today we meet 63-years-young hobbiest photographer Rick Willis from Phoenix, Arizona. Check out his interview and a dozen+ photos of landscapes, birds, people, and more...

Name: Rick Willis

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Rick Willis and I currently reside in Phoenix, Arizona. I am the Information Systems Manager for a very large non-profit organization also located in Phoenix, Arizona. I served in the military for 22 ½ years with multiple duty assignments in Korea, Germany and various state side locations. I am married with children and grandchildren. Being 63 years young does have some physical drawbacks now but my experience makes up for them...

Male Peacock

What is your background/training in photography?

I taught myself by a lot of trial and error in the pre-digital era. Due to the cost involved, I had to learn how to compose and evaluate whether the shot was good or not prior to shooting. Digital technology has reduced bad shot costs to zero. My prior training has increased the probability of getting the shot I really want. Research via the library and a small home library have helped me to attain better photos. Prior to the digital era, I only had control of the process of the picture up to a point. My interest in photography was sparked again when computers and software became the darkroom allowing you to control the pictures process from start to finish.

Great White Egret

Male Mallard Duck

How long has photography been a passion for you? When, where and how did it start?

At approximately 5~6 years old, I started using my mother’s box camera box in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. At Sonora junior high school in California I was using a Kodak Instamatic. In 1968, my first military assignment after Basic and AIT was in Korea where I purchased a Pentax SLR as my first quality camera. Color prints were out of the question due to the expense of developing them. During this tour, I learned to process and develop: B&W film, prints, and ektachrome slides.

While on duty in Germany years later, I purchased a Canon A1 still preferring to shoot slides. As the digital age was established, I purchased three various Olympus point and shoot models at various times. Still not happy I finally made the jump to Canon 20D dSLR.

Devil Cholla Cactus

What equipment is in your camera bag? What piece of equipment will be added to the collection next?

I still have my first Canon 20D along with a Canon 30D, Canon 5D and Canon Mark III 1D. Canon lenses EF 28-70mm 1:2.8 L USM, EF-S 10-22mm 1:3-4.5 USM, Macro EF 100mm 1:2.8 USM and EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 L IS USM. Canon speedlite 580EXII. Canon Remote switch RS80N3. Manfrotto 3001 tripod with 486RC2 tilt swivel head. Manfrotto 681b monopod with 3229 tilt head. Cokin split neutral density filters. Promaster UV and circular polarizing filters in various sizes. The bag also contains extra digital media; various battery chargers; spare rechargeable batteries; cleaning supplies, etc., for all the various lenses and cameras.

What next? On the smaller scale possibly an Extension Tube set: The bigger ticket item might be a long prime lens except that I find the weight prohibitive with current choices along with all the ancillary equipment required to keep it stable. When Canon comes out with an EF 600mm or 800mm DO IS USM lens that is relatively light, I might consider it then.

Little Painted Desert, Arizona

What are your favorite places/subjects to photograph? Why?

Some of my favorite places are the more spectacular natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons; just to name a few. I also like the unknown out the way unusual places not often visited or photographed. For subjects I like to catch people being themselves with lots of color. I have found that renaissance festivals, carnivals and events like the cinco de mayo or hot air balloon/air shows provides that type of atmosphere along with other unusual items of interest. As to the question why: I find nature like birds, flowers or scenic locations filled with color and wonder. I like being able to shoot people at some distance allowing them to be involved in activities without being self-conscious or distracted by the photographer's activity.

Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Who are your biggest photographic influences? Why? What about their work influences your work?

Early influences were Ansel Adams' black and white work, National Geographic and Arizona Highways magazines for color that can't be beat. Their ability to capture and compose their objects transported you to spectacular places seeing people and animals that you would never have the opportunity to see otherwise by merely turning the page. In today’s computer age and the internet, everyone can display their photos. SmugMug has attracted some of the most talented photographers in the world.

Green on Black

Apache Junction Renaissance Festival, Arizona

How long have you been Smug with your photographs? What features do you most enjoy with your SmugMug account?

Over three years ago, I researched many internet sites before making the decision to join the SmugMug community of photographers. The fact that users have the ability to use templates to choose a style that fits their personality is the best feature for me. If none of the templates suit you, SmugMug allows you to modify your site to fit your needs. The most compelling reason for choosing SmugMug is they do the printing, shipping and cash collection allowing me to concentrate on what I do best: photography.

Maricopa Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

If you had do sum up in 50 words or less the impact SmugMug has made on your photography/photography business, those 50 words would be...

I am an amateur and photography is my hobby so I am not driven to make a profit although it is nice to have sales to defray costs. I love the opportunity to see other photographer's work and from their experience; I can attempt to incorporate it into my repertoire.


Airplanes, Glendale Air Show, Arizona

If you had to give one piece of advice to those wanting to pursue photography, what would you tell them?

Be knowledgeable and control every aspect of your camera and equipment when shooting well composed tack sharp photos critically selecting only the absolute best to process using feature rich software.

Apache Junction Renaissance Festival, Arizona

Posted by Tim L. Walker on Fri, 2010–11–19 17:12
Categories: SmugMug Corner