We had the pleasure and honour of meeting Bill Neis one Monday afternoon when he stopped by with his laptop loaded with beautiful and humble photos he has taken of his old haunts. His natural gift for composition combined with his personal relationship with the spaces he shot created a quiet, introspective series of photos.
Bill has taken tens of thousands of pictures since starting in 2009 when his brother gifted him a camera. After becoming clean, he found photography to be a form of self-therapy. He says he likes to spend his time wandering the river valley taking photos of whatever happens to inspire him that particular day. His favourite subject matter is the wildlife that populates the area because unlike people, animals don’t judge you.
There were also many photos showing Edmonton from the viewpoint of someone who has lived on the streets. He explained how locks, fences, and street signs take on a different meaning; how a chain link fence is put up to keep people out rather than keeping the people inside safe. How a stop sign or a do not enter sign becomes an almost personal message, or a pile of rocks represents “rock bottom”.
Below is just a small selection of Bill’s photos. I love how there are low moments interspersed with photos of objects that signify hope. In accordance with his humble nature, Bill doesn’t consider himself a photographer, but rather “a guy who takes pictures.” You can follow him on Facebook on his photography page here. It’s filled with lovely photos of the river valley, wildlife, and his cat, Fred. Some of his images are so stunning I can’t believe they were taken here in our city. It’s definitely inspiration to go out and explore Edmonton more and to take the time to live all the small moments. I thank Bill for teaching me to look at my city in such a different way.