Please enjoy this 10 minute excerpt from a panel discussion about Photography filmed Sept 2020 where Bill discusses his approach and history:
From an early age, the world and its diversity fascinated me, especially the patterns I saw in commonplace things. I soon realized that this beauty that I had found would dull with time, as experience after experience would crowd my memory. My interest in photography stemmed from a desire to immortalize this moment of recognition to relive this emotion repeatedly and for a lifetime. Life on the farm was dominated by monotonous expanses of fields and pastures. The things that really excited me, though, were the abstracts I could form from farm implements, keyholes in doors, cracked paint, and other minutia I found close to hand. Though my professional studies and career took me down the road of science and mathematics, my camera was never far from my hand. The knowledge that I acquired allowed me to look “under the hood” at both the truth and uncertainties underlying nature, which are a form of mysticism. With the camera, I attempt to integrate these two worlds: the surface beauty with the underlying unseen complexity of what the subject is and how it came to be. Always drawn by the excitement of discovery, I have exactly the same feeling discovering an object to photograph as I do in making a discovery in the laboratory. Seeing something that is ever-present yet which no one else has recognized is always accompanied by a rush of excitement and wonder. For both of these, the responsibility then becomes finding the means to convey this new vision to the viewer, either of the laboratory discovery or of the photograph. This is my goal. To discover overlooked beauty. I delight in this sharing as so I diligently seek out these elusive patterns in nature. Small objects have grandeur just as large scenic vistas do. These speak to me and in return, I contemplate, which sometimes may result in a image. The photograph then becomes the time machine with which I transport myself back to that moment of discovery, allowing viewer to share in this revelation.
Practically born with a camera in his hand in 1949, Bill Theis started his own photography business at the age of 16 doing portrait, wedding, and commercial photography. Besides being employed as photojournalist for the local newspaper and high school annual, he lettered in Football, not as a player but as the team movie photographer! During these years, Bill was living on a Texas farm where his creative side was nurtured by many abstract images of farm implements and old buildings. His interest in photography never waned while he attended college and post-graduate school, culminating in a PhD in Physics. He then purchased his first view camera when he moved to Ohio, where he photographed the Midwest, the Appalachian Mountains, and Canada which were complemented with annual trips west of the Rockies beginning in 1966, which continue to this day. Bill retired from the US Navy in China Lake, CA and has relocated to the Sonoma wine country. Bill’s photographs from over 40 years of dedication to photography can be found internationally in private collections and was selected for inclusion in the permanent collection of the Shanghai Public Library. You can still find Bill out in the wilderness carrying an antique view camera and getting excited by the forms he sees in nature.
Multiple virtual Open Studio events: ArtSpan San Francisco Open Studios (SFOS2020), Sebastopol Open Studios (SAVOS), and Petaluma Art in the Park.
Work on display at Sebastopol Gallery 150 N Main St, Sebastopol, CA 95472 starting Dec 2018.
Sonoma County Art Trails Open Studios, Sebastopol Center for the Arts annually since Oct 2018.
Art at the Source Open studios at, Sebastopol Center for the Arts annually since June 2013.
Multiple acceptances into juried exhibitions at the Sebastapol Center for the Arts, Sebastapol, CA.
5 Nov 2016: One man show “Intimate landscapes of Magic Places” at Spring Lake Village in Santa Rosa, CA.
4 Nov 2008: “Classic Moment – The American West Photography Exhibit” at the Public Library, Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China.
6 Nov 2006: One man show at Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology in Dayton, OH.
Here is a short film of the making of several photographs: