Billy Douglas

billy-douglass-mugshotMy first experience behind the camera was at the Louisville Zoo, while on a fifth-grade field trip with my class from Mercer County Elementary School. With my Polaroid Swinger, I photographed two seals swimming in a concrete pool. From then on, I knew reality was subjective and could be re-arranged.

I was born in Danville, KY in 1958, the year Gibson introduced the Flying V guitar. In high school, I was the yearbook photographer, and learned how to process B+W film and print photographs. I spent hours poring over rock magazines and LP covers, and was very influenced by the English artist Roger Dean. At the University of Kentucky, I studied journalism, took many photographs, and was introduced to the filmmaker Federico Fellini, whose vivid imagery was revelatory.

In 1980, I drove across country in a Dodge station wagon, on my way to San Francisco. I found work as a photographer’s assistant, and began to learn the craft of commercial photography. The world seemed to open up to me, and I reveled in it. Man Ray, Andy Warhol, Robert Frank, and punk rock played a big role.

I began to work with alternative film processing, Polaroid transfer images and other pre-digital photographic techniques in my fine art work. Digital technology brought sweeping changes and fundamentally changed the idea of image creation. In my new work, I use everything I have learned to further define my art.

Photography has enabled me to see parts of the world I could only imagine. I know I have done my best when the images have the ring of truth. Sometimes joyful, some times tragic…it goes on and on.

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