Sep 30, 2008

Bill Fortney focuses students on photography

by Josh swanson

Nationally recognized photo-grapher, author and speaker Bill Fortney recently came to Liberty to talk to students. Instructor Tim

Isasacson invited Fortney to speak to Liberty’s photography students in class.

He shared his thoughts on what it takes to be a successful photographer and some of the lessons he has learned throughout his career. He also showed a slideshow of pictures he has taken, showcasing scenery from across the country.

Fortney said the four things that make a great photograph are a definable subject, appropriate light for the subject, workable conditions for the image you hope to make and control of the elements within the frame.

“You should always know that the best shot you’re ever going to make you haven’t made yet,” Fortney said.

Photography became interesting to Fortney when he was working as a high school football coach. He bought a camera, started to take pictures and after taking some photography classes, eventually became a newspaper photographer.

Fortney said one of the things he has enjoyed the most about his career is the great people he has met throughout the years.

He went on to say that beginning photographers may think about winning a Pulitzer Prize, but many times the importance is when your photography makes a difference, when somebody is touched by a photo or when it moves them to action.

“You just have to be open to see it,” Fortney said.

Regarding the success of his books and the awards he has won, Fortney said, “Truthfully those things are not as important as the memory of the people you know your photography has touched …You’re just thankful that you’ve had the chance to do that.”

One of the highlights of Fortney’s career is that he used to be the photographer for the Washington Redskins and the National Football League.

Currently, Fortney enjoys using his powered parachute to take aerial pictures he could take before. He also owns his production company, Fat Chance Productions.

Fortney posted a video on called “Heartland Flight.” The video is taken from his powered parachute as he flies over an airfield and the surrounding countryside.

He has also released some material in his books, “The Nature of America,” “American Vision,” “America From 500 Feet,” “Bill Fortney’s Great Photography Workshop” and the soon-to-be-released “America From 500 Feet II,” which is due out in October.

“I don’t think that you should ever hoard something you have learned from the fear that if someone else learns it they can do better than you did … I love to learn from others …that’s how you grow, seeing what other people do,” Fortney said.

More information on Fortney along with several photographs he has taken can be found on his Web site,


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