Biography Will Donnelly

Will grew up in the Bronx, New York in the 50´s and early 60`s. After completing High School, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served from 1966 to 1974 as a Photojournalist in a special group called Audio-Visual Information Service (AVIS) travelling throughout the USA, South East Asia and in Europe. This was the beginning of Will´s photo career, documentary portraits from Viet Nam, Japan, as well as Europe and America including 2 Presidential Portraits.

After Will´s military career, his first job in the private sector was as Asst. Art Director for Visual Merchandising by Abercrombie & Fitch, the oldest and most famous department store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. The work was the basis for his outstanding knowledge in Lighting, Design and Composition in Fashion and other areas.

In the mid 70`s Will moved west to Arizona where he attended  Phoenix College studying Fine Art Photography and Art History with an emphasis on Fine Art printing. During this time he was an up and coming name in the Southwest Gallery scene attending workshops with Wynn Bullock, Lee Friedlander, Eikoh Hosoe and Allen Dutton in New York, Arizona and California, all with group shows that received high press coverage and positive acclaim. Will completed his studies with an Associate Degree in Fine Art Photography in 1976.

To  further expand his photo knowledge in the areas of Commercial and Fashion photography, Will moved to Los Angeles where he attended Art Center College of Design on a full scholarship, the only student to achieve this in the 40 year history of the College.  Will´s talent as an Art Director and photographer led to his first shooting for local Los Angeles Fashion magazines while he was still a student and his first projects designing and photographing album covers for such music labels as A&M Records and Arcade Music for artists such as Elvis Costello, DEVO, and other New Wave LA artists. Wills photos can also be seen the the Robert Stigwood Feature Film Production “ Moment By Moment” with John Travolta and Lily Tomlin.

Shortly thereafter, Will left Los Angeles for Milano and Paris to work for magazines and fashion clients. In 1980  came to Düsseldorf and opened a studio specializing in fashion, beauty and advertising, establishing himself as a top name in the German market, working for such well known magazines as Italian Vogue, Gala Andy Warhol´s Interview and fashion clients Such as Van Laack, Gloria Vanderbilt, Mani, Comma, the Dupont Lycra campaign in Studio and on location. In Spain and England Will worked as Photographer and Art Director for print ads and TV commercials for the Spanish Jeans company Lois. During this time Will did a series of Celebrity portraits including Andy Warhol, Helmut Newton, Wolfgang Joop, Kenzo, the American furniture designer John Hutton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lisa Lyon and O J Simpson to name a few.

In 1994 Will had a successful exhibition of private work including black and white hand-colored photos, silkscreen photos and videos. Later that year he expanded his commercial spectrum to include professional still photography in the areas of Beauty, Jewelry and other fashion accessories.

In 1997 Will celebrated the opening of a larger studio in Düsseldorf with b/w darkroom for his fine art work as he became more and more interested in exploring  Fine Art Photography. In the year 2001 Will extended the studio capacities to include digital photography in addition to the classic analog photography.

In the space between 1999 and 2010 Will returned to the United States 5 times to shoot private photos in the California, Arizona and New Mexico as well as his first return to New York City in over 30 years. This work is the basis for his Distinction panels for the Royal British Photography Society of which Will is a member (German Chapter) since 2009. This group had a tremendously successful debut at the Deutsche Theater Museum in Düsseldorf and in the same year with a follow-up show in the Park Museum in Iserlohn, Germany.

Besides his ongoing commercial fashion work, Will is currently working on his Distinction Panels for the RPS, the Signa Bona Project with Dr.KM Udo Remmes and 2 photo books about The US Southwest & New York City. Will is proud to be a founding member of the Global Art Federation.

My Codex

"The Quality of Light"

"Photography is simple, it´s all about the quality of light ... Take a ball, a cube or a pyramide, any object .... place it in front of your camera ....

What counts now, is not your equipment, but the quality of light you create. Its your personal interpretation of the „reality you wish to create.

The photographer is the key figure in visual communication. He is the translator between objektive visualization

and subjektive "reality" 

Thanks  to Mr. Charles Potts

Photography Dept. Chairman

Art Center College of Design

Pasadena, California