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Looking for a Rainbow

10/26/16

Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

“So I must be going now,
I’m losing time my friend,
Looking for a rainbow,
Down this highway in the wind.”
Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie’s lyrics to This Highway in the Wind could well be the sound track of Bill Follis’ life. As a local photographer and former travel agent, Bill has experienced life traveling countless highways, byways, and large bodies of water.  Each adventurous journey chronicled in breathtaking images that inspire wonder, startle with color, and surprise in form.

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Bill moved with his family to Covina, CA when he was 14 years old. There, he spent his high school years, and upon graduation, enlisted in the USAF. During his enlistment, Bill spent two and a half years in Texas before being shipped off to Vietnam for a year. Looking back, Bill remembers his absolute enchantment with the foreign countries he visited while in the service. In fact, he was on a leave in Japan when he bought his first SLR camera and became, by his own definition, “an addict for photography.”  Once Bill was discharged from service he moved to Los Angeles to attend Cal State University, where he finished a degree program in Anthropology.  

Bill recalls, as a child, being fascinated by photographs, “It didn’t matter if they were the black and white photos in the family albums my Mother organized or the Kodachrome slides my Dad shot on his business trips across the country, I was simply “in love” with the images.” Bill did not stop there; he also remembers spending hours watching travelogues on television and perusing Life Magazine, National Geographic, and other photo-filled magazines of the time for intriguing and interesting images.

After graduating from college, Bill accepted a job with an international tour operator, which started his lifelong career in the travel industry. Bill adds, “During the last twenty-five years in the business, I opened my own company which specialized in travel to Hawaii.” It was during his time in Hawaii he learned the finer elements of image composition and the impact of color. In 2002, as the internet was slowly washing across the country, spilling into American business and homes, Bill returned to night school at Cal State University, Northridge earning an advanced certificate in web-design, which included classes in Adobe Photoshop.  t this point, with new skills in hand, Bill took over photographing his own promo shots for his brochures and website images.

Nine years ago Bill retired and moved from Los Angeles to Phoenix. Now with the time to pursue his passion for photography full time, Bill purchased professional quality photography equipment and hit the “highway in the wind” visiting the places he had seen in photos over the years. You will find on his website a wide variety of stunning images: great waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, the National Parks such as Mesa Verde, Arches, Bryce, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon.  Bill’s images also include Victoria in British Columbia, Savannah, GA and New Orleans, LA just to name a few. Locally, Bill Follis’ photography can be seen at Red Truck Trading Company in Cave Cree, and the Angel Store on 5th Avenue in Scottsdale. Recently, Bill has begun designing and making his own frames from locally milled and reclaimed barn wood.  The natural textural qualities of the wood compliment the images, bringing a warmth and upscale style to any decor.

Take your own trip, "looking for a rainbow, down this highway in the wind"; view a wide selection of artist Bill Follis' images on his website at www.BillFollis.com, or for an up close and personal look, visit the Red Truck Trading Company in Cave Creek, and the Angel Store on 5th Avenue in Scottsdale.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at flowingquill@yahoo.com.