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Imaging USA Instructor: From Santa Photos to Photographic Art - PPA Today

Imaging USA Instructor: From Santa Photos to Photographic Art

jwilsonheadshot.jpgJoyce Wilson, M.Photog.Cr., API, F-ASP, began her photographic career in 1961, taking pictures of children with Santa Claus for a local shopping mall in Indiana. What started as a holiday job to earn extra money soon took Wilson down the path of professional photography.

When Wilson delivered the film (for the Santa pictures) to the studio, she couldn't help but notice the oil-painted portraits on the walls. "I told the studio photographer that they were garish, and that I could do a better job with my background in art," remembers Wilson. "Within a few months, I was oil coloring and painting photographic portraits for three local studios."

The next year, the mall asked Wilson to handle the Santa portraits. With that experience and more freelance painting for other photographers under her belt, she realized that most children's portraiture at the time was "rather unimaginative." This motivated her to take night school photography classes. Shortly afterwards, she opened her studio to create "Heritage Portraits" of children...and the rest is history.

Wilson operated a successful studio for many years with her husband. Over time, theyjwilson6.jpg expanded the studio to include photography for weddings, advertising, executive portraiture and editorial assignments. But Wilson's husband passed away in 1970, and by 1984 the pressures of running a studio on her own were beginning to burn her out. In response, she changed her pricing structure and established a new working philosophy.

"I realized that I needed to find new directions," says Wilson, as she recalls making these changes. "So I began experimenting with 35mm, high-speed film and figure nudes. I also began photographing from a different perspective: 'One for Thee; One for Me.' I would do the work the client expected, and then experiment for my personal work."

That personal work soon began to reap rewards. For instance, Wilson's images of children and families were picked up and marketed by a stock photography agency. Her figure nudes began winning awards in juried competitions, and in 1987 she was invited to exhibit her first collection of figure nudes. Today, Wilson's photography is found in many permanent collections of major art museums.  

jwilson1.jpgIn addition to operating her studio and creating her personal work, Wilson began instructing in 1971. "A funny thing happened," she says. "I, who had never wanted to be a teacher when growing up, discovered that I was a born teacher!"

Wilson was soon hosting classes all around the world. After moving to California in 1996, she joined the faculty at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., and helped revamp the portrait program. And despite her many accomplishments as a photographer, she says that being an instructor has been her most rewarding experience.

In fact, you can enjoy one of Wilson's favorite pastimes (teaching) by attending her Imaging USA class: "A Golden Thread: 50 Years of Impact, Inspiration & Style"! Learn how she grew from Santa photographer to photographic artist, and learn her creative process, from the inspiration to the realization of her personal work. You'll even see the steps she's used with clients over the years to achieve visual impact.

"I hope photographers attending this class learn to experiment and create images for bothjwilson3.bmp client satisfaction and personal projects, which lead to a more creative and rewarding life," Wilson adds. "The many photographers that I have helped reach their own goals and soar in this wonderful profession...they are what I'm most proud of."

Read more about Imaging USA here.

Read more about Joyce Wilson here.

Joyce Wilson has earned The Gerhard Bakker Award, the PPA Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Photographic Council Leadership Award presented at the United Nations, the ASP Honorary Fellowship and an Honorary Master in Arts and Science from Brooks Institute.



Don't miss this opportunity to learn from one of the giants of our industry. Joyce Wilson opened the door to photographic artistry for literally thousands of photographers, and for many years she was the ONLY role model for women photographers. The world through Joyce's eyes is something to behold! — Ann Monteith

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on November 2, 2010 2:07 PM.

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