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Meet the Artist: Bill Lazar

Updated: May 7

Where did you grow up and how do you think that influenced your art? 

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but we had a rustic cabin (think ice box, kerosine lamps, wood-burning stove and outhouse) that we visited several times a year outside of Joshua Tree in the Mohave Desert. I grew to love the desert’s austere beauty and enjoy its peacefulness and solitude. Perhaps this is where I learned to look more closely at my surroundings for hidden or surprising beauty. The Southwest is still one of my favorite areas to explore and photograph. 

What parts of your creative process are routine or more regimented or ritualized, and which parts are more spontaneous/intuitive? 

Sometimes I will go on a photo outing with a specific project or image in mind. Often I will struggle to get anything that pulls me in, but pushing myself to continue and try different ways of getting at the same results expands my creative abilities. If I really can’t get into the groove, I will remind myself to be open to other opportunities that capture my fancy. However, most of the time I go out with no specific objective other than being open to the magic of the time and place. When things are going well, there is a feeling of being emotionally connected to your subject, of being given a gift.

What do you find most rewarding about being an artist?

For me, photography is most rewarding when I can make an image that captures what I am feeling when viewing my subject. I strive to make images that convey this feeling, of being given a gift to those who view my art. This can be a grand or intimate landscape or an abstract. I also find doing in-camera techniques like intentional camera movement and/or multiple exposures extremely rewarding. The resulting images are almost impossible to reproduce and it is very difficult to pre-visualize the results. I find the surprising results to be joyful. Part of this joy is the amazing ability of a camera to capture time, whether an ephemeral moment or a blurring or combining of multiple moments of time.

How do you keep yourself motivated and growing as an artist? 

I find that engaging with other photographers helps me to continue to grow as an artist.

I am a member of the Palo Alto Camera Club whose members are very creative and generous with their time and knowledge. This gives me an opportunity to see and learn from others’ works as well as get feedback on my own work.

I also attend several week-long professional photographer-led workshops each year, some closer to home and some in other countries. I like to expose myself to different types of landscapes and subject matter, as well as to different techniques, to keep myself excited about making my art. These workshops give me an opportunity not only to learn from a professional but also to see our subjects through the other workshop participants’ eyes, something I find extremely valuable in educating my photographic eye.

Is art something you create? Something your viewers experience? Or something in between?  

Art is definitely something I create.  But another dimension to art is what it transmits to the viewer. I want my art to have an emotional impact on the viewer, to give them the gift of at least some of what I felt when creating the image. My favorite images do that for me and I hope they can do that for my viewers.

Do you think viewing original art is different than seeing it online digitally? If so, why?

For many years, I only looked at my images on my computer. I had several workshop leaders encourage me to print my images, saying the image is not complete until you hold it in your hand. Once I started printing my work, I knew what they meant. A print is something tangible, something physical. It has weight. There is the special feeling of “I made this!” when you have completed a work in this way and are holding it in your hands.

What do you hope collectors and patrons take away from your art?

I hope collectors and patrons can experience some of the joy, wonder or awe I feel when capturing a special image. While our memories can fade, the magic of photography is that it can preserve an ephemeral moment to be shared and experienced forever.

Where can an interested viewer find your work?  

Many of my images are displayed on my website,

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