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Duration: Five years. 

Location: Manhattan, New York.

Education: BFA in advertising photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. 

Career path: My creative inspiration burgeoned at a young age. My family had a farm, so my lifestyle—waking up early to take care of the cows and helping my father and brother with chores after school—differed from that of most young kids. It didn’t take long before I started to push the limits of my reality with painting, writing and any other artistic craft I could get my hands on. After getting my first 35mm film camera in middle school, I became so obsessed with the creation of images that my dad and I built a black-and-white darkroom in the barn. I spent a lot of my free time there, developing film and making prints on my old Beseler 23C enlarger. I’m still proud of my old work, even though it’s riddled with dust spots—I developed it in a barn after all. This early stage of my life decided my fate in the creative field. I never wanted to do anything else. 

The truth is in the story of the soul. I use my impressionist and sometimes surreal style to find the true identity of the subject.

Favorite projects: My most memorable project involved directing and writing a short film on the middleweight boxer Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., which his team promoted on HBO and Showtime before his fights. Something about the devotion of his fighter’s spirit felt very uplifting and empowering. We told the story of “the comeback” after Willie had lost a championship title fight six months before. This experience challenged me to tell a story that fit El Mongoose and showed his dedication. 

I’m also very proud of the images I created for the Rochester Fringe Festival, a no-holds-barred festival celebrating multimedia art, music and comedy in Rochester, New York. Used in print and web to promote a festival that brings in more than 60,000 attendees, the images signify the creative, amazingly talented people who come to show off their skills at the festival, but who return to normal careers, jobs and lives when the festival is over.  

Work environment: I always play music. I’m currently on a Charles Bradley kick—I love the visions his music inspires. You’ll find a bit of everything playing in the studio during my shoots, from hip hop to punk to folk. I love how music can stimulate our imaginations. I also love to keep things lighthearted on set. Sure, shoots can be stressful, but it’s important to remember that great work comes when everyone is passionate and excited! 

Approach: The search to uncover truth fuels me. This almost seems hypocritical since I create fantasy stories in my photos, but the truth isn’t always in the environment, which can be fabricated, nor does the truth always have to be a political one. The truth is in the story of the soul. I use my impressionist and sometimes surreal style to find the true identity of the subject. 

Aspirations: For now, I want to find national representation. Finding the right rep is important, and knowing how you can best serve each others’ businesses is key. In fact, I hope this article will get more eyes on my work! I’d love to hear from serious enquiries at will@willstrawser.com or 212-390-0814.

In the long term, I aim to direct national TV spots. Video is becoming a much larger part of my world, and I would love to see my skills grow. I harbor a ten-year goal of writing and directing a feature length film. My head, brimming with ideas, is waiting for the opportunity to solidify them on paper and on the screen. 

Browse Projects

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