Bill Chizek Photography
Bill Chizek is an amateur photographer who lives between San Diego, CA and El Paso, TX. After retiring as a Navy musician in 2011, he quit playing music and photography became his passion. While Bill is fond of photographing aircraft and autos, his subjects are just about anything that catches the eye. We have conducted an interview with him.
What is it about photographing aircraft that you like?
Photographing aircraft, especially the older models and warbirds, is like capturing a piece of history, which is my other love. When aircraft are on the ground, there is something about the way the aircraft is designed and the how light and images reflect off the clean surfaces. Each aircraft is like its own piece of artwork. Also, the paint schemes which are designed to catch your eye from the ground can be equally incredible up close. When they're flying it's about the beauty, gracefulness, power, or speed. But when they’re on the ground, they are a sort of art and a visual part of history to me.
When comparing aircraft to autos, when is the best moment to capture them and which are your favorite perspectives?
They are two completely different subjects because we all see aircraft in the sky and understand them from the ground, but when not flying they may not seem so interesting to some people. A photo of cockpit controls may not be impressive to some people, but those same people will pay big money to see that same plane fly at an airshow. Most people who aren’t pilots, in my opinion, relate to aircraft better from the ground. I usually like to capture aircraft where you can see that pilot at the controls. Cars are different because we use them every day, see them everywhere, and they’re part of our earliest memories and daily lives. Not everyone will be a pilot, but most of us will drive cars. Even my young daughters like spotting old cars when we’re out in our car. Airplanes I have no control over in the air so I shoot them when and where I can, I like to photograph them on the ground preferably in the morning. Cars, on the other hand, I prefer to shoot on sunny mornings in the shade with lots of natural light. That’s why I love when car shows happen in a park under the trees! I try to photograph the parts of old cars that are from another era, like the old clocks and dashboards, or hood ornaments that we just don’t see today. Again, it’s history…
Why did you quit playing music?
A couple of reasons, first was my health. As a musician since 1976 or so, brass playing took a toll on me. I already had two hernia operations, lost a good deal of hearing, and was having a throat issue that was likely going to get worse if I kept playing the trombone. These factors made the decision easier plus I was already getting active with photography and knew I loved it. Additionally, a musicians life is tough, plenty of late nights whether it’s gigs or rehearsals because everything happens around other band members day jobs. Whether musicians are working or not, most still have to practice to keep their skills up for when someone calls. So, even if you’re not working, it’s still time consuming. Because I played mostly jazz with a lot of improvisation, photography filled that creative void in my brain left by music and really was a better fit in my life as well. The second reason was my family because I have a wife, son, and two little girls. They could rarely come out to hear me play unless I was playing during the day (a rarity). Now when I’m out shooting, one or more family members are usually with me and my oldest daughter has her camera and her little sister has a toy camera. Photography is a great way for me to be with my family and stay creative.
How did you get started in aircraft and auto photography?
Since I was a child I've been in to aviation, my brother and I had model planes that we built hanging from our bedroom ceiling, and going to airshows was a big deal for us too. Years later, as an adult I would go to the NAS Oceana Air Show in Virginia before I was in to photography and spend all day in awe of the show. A few years later I began taking my camera to the Miramar Airshow in California, I didn’t like my photos and started researching aviation photography online, I was hooked. As for cars, my wife and I checked out a local car show a few years ago and it was pretty cool but I didn’t start shooting car shows seriously until 2014 when I began to grasp the historical aspect of these cars. Initially I started shooting just hood ornaments, that big old piece of metal on the front of the car represented the entire company, early model cars had amazing hood ornaments! They were works of art meant to catch your attention, not some trademarked piece of plastic simply slapped on the car at the factory. I especially love the cars of manufacturers who have gone out of business; companies like Studebaker, DeSoto, Auburn all made incredibly beautiful cars that are not coming back, it was an incredible era. I love when I can combine photography with history! I photograph other subjects as well, cars and aircraft are only part of it. I also photograph buildings and interesting architectural structures, landscapes, seascapes, flowers, boats, and do some night photography among other things.
Which formats do you sell your photography?
They are available in several formats through my website at Smugmug. Paper prints in various sizes and finishes as well as digital downloads are available. If you are looking for something for the home, they are also sold as wall art in the form of traditional, stretched, or flat mounted canvas. These photos are sold as thinwraps or metal prints where again, you can select the finish or covering. Lastly, Smugmug will ship just about anywhere in the world!
Where can our readers see more of your work?
At my website found at www.BillChizekPhotography.com I usually post one photo a day on Monday through Friday. I also post a blog about my photos twice a month at www.BillChizekPhotography.net. You can follow me on many social media websites (below), if you can’t find me, contact me through my website and I’ll gladly help you!
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