How To Find Dragon Smoke Through The Lens Of Bill Hayward

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Contemporary artist David Hockney once said, ‘the photograph isn’t good enough. It’s not real enough,’ which I think artist Bill Hayward has taken to heart + evident in his Chasing Dragons: An Uncommon Memoir in Photographs by Bill Hayward, © 2015, published by Glitterati Incorporated. Comprised of an array of photographs, following Bill + his family through the vast highways of America, as a child, to works with celebrities + dancers, one gets to get a handle on the scope of this artist’s life in the most ingenious + interesting of ways. But it is when he’s a child that we’re faced with the first of his dragons, given birth by his sister Janet, commandeering the skies in their form of clouds + a peek into Hayward’s curious mind saying, “For my curious, six-year-old self, it was the edge of the known world. If asked, I was only a stranger looking for dragons.”

11 Chasing Dragons by Bill Hayward

Broken down into five acts, this book chronicles more than five decades of Hayword’s work, which tells his story on a quest for self-discovery + new modes of expression-inspiring the same spirit in his subjects + all those who encounter his work. Sam Barzilay, Creative Director of United Photo Industries + co-founder of Photoville, said of Hayward’s approach to photography, “He wastes no time in disrupting what others hold sacrosanct. ‘The photographic surface as unquestionable truth:’ a false idol to be scratched, cut, painted, folded, manipulated; dismantled + reconstituted,” which is very evident in the photographs that are resurrected after being shot then reinvented with an overlay of paint, decay and anything else Hayward fancies at that moment.

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At times, he recreates the subject’s portrait by taking the same image, splitting it down the middle, then taping them together, creating an inner reflective look, found in ACT 2 under ‘Acts + Expressions’. Below is a picture depicting this technique.

03 Chasing Dragons by Bill Hayward

But what his still photographs lacked in motion, he compensated with shooting movement, specifically that of dancers. With their graceful lilt like gazelles, the muscularity of their bodies kicks, bends + jumps for the camera. Its Hayward’s open collaboration in creation of his images that manages to pull such imagery to come to life, Bazilay thinks, adding, “Bill Hayward welcomes the transformation of his subjects into active participant + artistic partners.”

09 Chasing Dragons by Bill Hayward

Now if you think you’re just getting a book of photography, ‘Chasing Dragons’ is more than that. With quotes from various works of literature, you also get a glimpse at your new reading list, just dying to come alive, like the pictures paired along with them all. And remember, as Hayward so beautifully puts it, “It’s all about bushwhacking your own damn road, chasing the dragons of creativity, inhaling their smoke…If you’re in process, you’re alive. If you’re not, your just occupying space.”

Chasing Dragons: An Uncommon Memoir in Photographs by Bill Hayward, © 2015, published by Glitterati Incorporated is available for purchase at Chasing Dragons: An Uncommon Memoir.

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