William “Bill” Garnett

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William “Bill” Garnett
1916 – 2006
From Wikipedia, the free ency­clo­pedia

William A. Garnett was an Amer­ican land­scape photog­ra­pher who special­ized in aerial photog­raphy.
Garnett was born in Chicago, Illi­nois, in 1916, and in 1920 his family moved to Pasadena, Cali­fornia. After grad­u­ating from Pasadena’s John Muir Tech­nical High School he studied for one year at the Art Center School in Los Angeles and then, begin­ning in 1938, he worked for two years as an inde­pen­dent commer­cial photog­ra­pher and graphic designer.
In 1940 he was hired as a photog­ra­pher by the Pasadena Police Depart­ment, where he was employed for four years. In 1944 he worked briefly for the Lockeed aircraft company before being drafted into the U.S. Army, where he assisted in the produc­tion of training films for the U.S. Signal Corps.
After leaving the Army in 1945 Garnett used the G.I. Bill to pay for flight instruc­tion and by 1949 he had purchased his first plane and begun capturing the aerial photographs for which he is admired. His work began to attract crit­ical atten­tion and in 1953 he won the first of three Guggen­heim fellow­ships for his beau­tiful land­scapes.
In 1955, Garnett had his first one-man show at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. His work was also included in Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man exhi­bi­tion at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1955.
Garnett bought a Cessna 170B in 1956 and he used it for decades as a vantage point for his photog­raphy. He made small modi­fi­ca­tions to the plane to facil­i­tate his photog­raphy. According to the Getty Museum, Garnett “exper­i­mented with a variety of camera formats and films but found that two 35mm cameras (one loaded with black-and-white film, and another with color film) best suited his needs.” He may have also used Pentax 6X7 medium format cameras to capture his imagery.
In 1958 Garnett moved from Los Angeles to Napa, Cali­fornia, and continued working as a commer­cial photog­ra­pher for the next ten years. In 1968 he joined the College of Envi­ron­mental Design at the Univer­sity of Cali­fornia, Berkeley. He served as a professor at the univer­sity until his retire­ment in 1984.
Garnett’s photog­raphy was featured in many national maga­zines, including Fortune, Life, Reader’s Digest, and The New York Times Maga­zine. His unique land­scapes have also appeared in many art books and as illus­tra­tions in many text­books.
His work has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Fran­cisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metro­pol­itan Museum of Art in New York, the Smith­sonian Insti­tu­tion in Wash­ington, D.C., and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
In 1941 Garnett married contralto Eula Beal (b. 1919) and together they raised three sons.
Garnett died on August 26, 2006 at his home in Napa, Cali­fornia.

One thought on “William “Bill” Garnett”

  1. Hans Halberstadt says:

    Bill is remem­bered both for his stun­ning abil­i­ties as an artist, but also as a mentor, teacher, and friend to many evolving photog­ra­phers in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area and beyond. He was extremely impor­tant in my career — he got me my first job, and then my third job — and I know he was equally generous with many other guys and gals. He was a visionary in many ways, and beloved by a multi­tude.

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