Will Dunniway has sadly passed away. We share his work in honor of his memory. Will was a practitioner of photography both historical and digital. He honored history, and spent nearly 50 years in the practice of art design in various formats of pencil sketches, oil painting, album cover design, film and digital printing to his most favorite Wet-Plate Collodion. He will be missed.
From: California, USA.
Shows: Wet-Plate collodions.
WILLIAM HERBERT DUNNIWAY SEPTEMBER 26, 1946 – APRIL 8, 2021
Will/Bill Dunniway was born in San Bernardino, California the son of Marjorie (Sharp) and Donald Dunniway and grew up in Colton, California. Serving in the US Marine Corp during Vietnam and after an honorable discharge, he returned home and pursued art and graphic design. He spent 30 years as a Graphic Artist and Art Director for Mount Herman Christian Conference Center in the coastal mountain area of California while married to Crystal (Ruth) Dunniway. They raised two children Troy Dunniway and Michelle Dunniway and have two grandsons Eric and Todd Dunniway. During these years, Will discovered a passion for Civil War Reenacting and later the 19th-century wet-plate collodion photographic process. His marriage to Dr. Frances (Ouellette) Dunniway in 2005 moved him to Southern California and his final home in Yosemite Lakes Park, Coarsegold, California. Will helped to raise his stepchildren Donovan Brown and Collette (Brown) Strosnider and they shared three step-grandchildren Connor Brown, Levi and Ellie Strosnider. He is also survived by his two brothers Michael and Steve Dunniway as well as nieces and nephews, in-laws and cousins.
Will was a practitioner of photography both historical and digital. He honored history, and spent nearly 50 years in the practice of art design in various formats of pencil sketches, oil painting, album cover design, film and digital printing to his most favorite Wet-Plate Collodion. Will stated this was his favorite as the process was authentic, hand-made, finicky, difficult, but yet captured his passion for history and photography. “You have to really want to do this…it is not easy. The tools involve a very heavy civil war era camera with bulky lenses and dangerous chemicals. The ‘film’ comes in the form of a 20-pound box of 8 x 10 glass. The many ripples, waves, pours, and movements captured by the antique lens appear as slow puddles and drips, and are superimposed against the glass, which simultaneously creates sharpness and softness. The image when developed is a record of what was in front of the camera…a tissue-thin seascape of emulsion as it freezes time, showing time stopped in two different worlds…two stories brought together.”
Not an easy process to master, Will’s collection of images, spans three decades, capturing events from the lives of Civil War soldiers, gold miners, and Native American tribes of the Plains, as well as landscapes from the National Parks-Yosemite, Crater Lake, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon, west and east coast lighthouses, and the red rocks of the Southwest.
“I am not a revisionist. My goal is not to reinterpret the past. I have been faithful to history, becoming adept not only with understanding historical processes, but in understanding the way people thought about themselves and their environment in some of our nation’s most turbulent times.”
After a heart attack in 2013, Will was afflicted with heart failure, which altered his physical ability to shoot landscapes on location. Never to be idle, he began teaching the wet-plate collodion process to others, hosting many workshops in his home darkroom. His collodion students included Hollywood celebrities, National Geographic photographers, Pulitzer Prize winners, and leading international cinematographers. Spanning six decades, Will photographed notable personalities ranging from Billy Graham to Johnny Cash as well as being an internationally recognized master of the wet-plate collodion process. Will’s ambrotype (collodion image on red glass) of Winona Ryder appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film Dracula. In the last decade of his life Will studied, field use tested, and was acknowledged as an authority in rare optics by 19th century lens makers. His work has appeared internationally and is held in many private collections, including the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.
After his prolonged illness in his Coarsegold home, Will died peacefully under VA hospice services in Fresno, California. He was laid to rest on May 11, 2021 in Hermosa Cemetery-Inland Memorial Colton, California amidst family members.
More about William Dunniway:
- His work lives on his website.
- Article by William Dunniway: Will Dunniway’s ‘Dirty Hand’ collodion tour of Yosemite Valley
- Portrait of William Dunniway: Will Dunniway: A man with a mission