Woodie Artists GalleryBill Belknap
Bill Belknap viewed life as a continuum and one rich with possibility. He chose not to limit himself, his family, or friends by age or perceived ability. Despite some apparent early obstacles, Bill distinguished himself as a photographer, businessman, river-runner, author and teacher.
When he was ten, a passion for photography was ignited on a trip to the Mayan ruins in Mexico. After a move with his mother from a Hudson River estate to Hollywood, California, his mother provided a darkroom. Bill's interest in archeology and photography bloomed and his formal education ended at the eighth grade.
At seventeen, he and his mother moved to Nevada, were she had an interest in the first tourist business to capitalize on the recently completed Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Bill found an abundance of opportunities awaited him in the Boulder City region. He fell in love with the southwestern desert country and its inhabitants. Hopping behind the wheel of his venerable woodie station wagon, he made extended solo trips to the Grand Canyon, and the Hopi, Havasupai, and Navajo lands.
Bill's expertise grew and opportunities arose as he became the White House photographer for U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later, poignantly documented the extraordinary ability of the human spirit to endure in the devastation of war-torn Berlin. After the war, he and his wife returned to Boulder City.
In 1947, along with partners Cliff and Gene Segerblom and Mark Swain, Bill opened the Photo Information Center/Belknap Photographic Services. The shop, which remained open until 1965, offered a full line of camera equipment, film processing and commercial and portrait photographs. It also served as Bill's base for his freelance work. He photographed and/or wrote articles for National Geographic, Argosy, and Life Magazine, and Boulder City area newspapers.
Fastwater Expeditions, the family-operated river-running company may have been his favorite endeavor. Bill's gentle teaching style enabled hundreds of people of all ages and sizes to successfully navigate the region's wild rivers from 1974 to 1986. Participants also benefitted from Bill's knowledge of photography and from his extensive musical knowledge.
In many of the the photographs below, Bill's woodie station wagons are not just a coincidence, but serve to provide modern counterpoint and scale to nature's majesty.
Old Woodies is indebted to the Special Collections and Archives Department of the Cline Library at Northern Arizona University for permission to reproduce these images and commentary. For a closer look at Bill Belknap's life and work, view the Bill Belknap online exhibition and archives at the Cline Library.
Click on the photo for a larger view
Prints of the photographs on this page are available from the NAU Special Collections and Archives Department for a modest fee. Prints are ordered using the Photo # below each description. Pricing and the Photograph Order Form can be found on the SCA forms page.
These images are protected by Digimarc watermark technology. Reproduction requires permission of the repository --- Cline Library at Northern Arizona University. For further information, please contact:
All images copyright ©1997 ABOR, NAU. All rights reserved. Used by permission
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