Photographer never too busy for another shot

By Tamara Simpson
VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Monday, September 26, 2005

Bill Hall of Lower Burrell has taken more than 10,000 pictures in the last three years.

At about nine pictures a day, you'd think he was a professional photographer, but he's not.

"That would take the fun out of it," he said laughing. "I carry my camera in my briefcase, so anywhere I go, I can take a photo. There's so much to see. My eye catches so many different things."

His eye and his camera have caught sunlight  driveway, a painter with lipstick on her teeth, a butterfly and a caterpillar clinging to the same flower, and his favorite--families coming together.

"The most interesting opportunity to take pictures is probably a family reunion," he said. "When I do that, I kind of feel like I'm bringing a family together. They're together there, but when I gather them in the picture and make them hold on to each other and squeeze together, it's almost like therapy for the family and for me too.

"To see the similar faces and the love they share in the family, and the way they portray it. That's really it. That's the ultimate."

Hall's love for photography goes back to 1970, when he was a preventative medicine specialist stationed in Augsburg, Germany.

"I really enjoyed taking photos in Europe," Hall said. "But I didn't enjoy carrying around all that stuff. It was just so much weight, and it held me back. But it was a thrill to be able to bring the things I'd seen back to my family and to keep with us for memories. I wasn't anything special then, but I enjoyed it."

But Hall really got into photography about three years ago when he bought his first digital camera.

"I saw this digital camera that was expensive, but it also promised the opportunity of not so expensive because I didn't have to develop and print film," he said.

With his history as a computer engineer, he knew he'd be able to enhance the pictures with modern photography programs like Adobe Photoshop. But he decided for the majority of his photographs, he wanted to keep them as real as possible.

"I don't like to change photos," he said. "If I have to enhance the light I will, but that's something you can do in a dark room. As far as composite photos, I have one with seven hummingbirds at one feeder which is a composite of six pictures I took. I thought about putting it in the show, but I was reluctant to because I thought people wouldn't trust my other photos."

The show Hall's referring to is the Murrysville Art Show that was part of their community days Sept. 9 and 10.

Hall won first place in the Amateur Photo competition and the People's Choice Amateurs. The winning photograph was called "Life is but a Stage."

"With the one that won first place, I said, 'Oh, those flowers are at their peak,'" he said. "I went out and took the first picture. There was a butterfly on the flower, but there was a caterpillar on the opposite side underneath the flowers. That was a real challenge because the angle of the butterfly wing and the position of the caterpillar."


The win wasn't something Hall was expecting, but it boosted his confidence in his photography. And although he admits the awards are nice, they're not the reason he loves photography.

"I really don't know what I like better--taking the photo or sharing the photo," he said. "I really like seeing people's faces when they look at the photo."

Hall has an interesting opportunity to brighten people's faces with his photography pretty often. As a member of the New Kensington Area Rotary club, Alle-Kiski Chamber Federation, past president of the New Kensington Area Chamber of Commerce, president of the Allegheny Kiski Historical Society, a steering committee member of the AK Coalition, and a board member for the Community Health Clinic in New Kensington, he seems to always be around photo opportunities.

"Being in all those activities really made it possible for me to take all these different kinds of pictures," he said. "It kind of tells the story of the Valley when you look at my pictures, at least the part I see."

Hall said he spends at least an hour every day taking new photos or reviewing ones he has taken.

"Just looking at the pictures, I'm looking for things I can do better," he said. "Some pictures just grab you, and you're affected by the picture. That's what you try to do with art. You try to bring some emotion to the viewer, some recollection. Emotion's the highest thing. You can do that with words or music or painting. Then you've really done something. The hard part is knowing whether it affects other people as much as it affects you." 

Bill Hall

Family: Wife, Fredda; daughters Elda and Josylyn.

Favorite thing about the Valley: "The people. They're amazing. There's so much talent here."

Motto for the Valley: "The AK Valley is a treasure box in itself, jam-packed with jewels in all colors and facets. Some think we're all lost or forgotten, covered in the dust of our industrial history. We just need to make it a little easier to find us, like a new bridge, a train, and some road improvements. Then we'll send out some treasure maps, and we'll be sparkling in no time."

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