Bill Crandall's formative years in Washington DC were spent with a guitar instead of a camera. Eventually photography became his mode of expression, as he learned to develop film and make prints in his father's small darkroom. His atmospheric photos balance art and documentary, an approach that evolved from his growing disillusion with the formulas of media-driven photojournalism.
During his career as an editorial photographer, Bill's images have appeared in magazines such as New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Le Figaro, PHOTO, Hollands Diep, and Das Magazin. He has shot for newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times on a regular basis, and he has won awards from the National Press Photographers Association.
He has received grants from CEC ArtsLink and the US Embassy in Belarus in support of his long-term 'East' photo project, which began in 1998 and provides an intuitive, personal take on contrasting Eastern European trajectories in the aftermath of communism. The East project debuted with a solo exhibit in Warsaw in 2008.
In 1998 - dodging tourists in a hot Prague August, by chance the 30-year anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion to crush the Prague Spring - I began what would become a decade-long personal photo series, an impressionistic look at life in the aftermath of Eastern European communism.
I had been bitten by the Eastern Europe bug many years before. I was one of those English teachers in early 1990s Prague. Growing up in America, with Soviet-era notions of East vs West, the communist world may as well have been the deepest Amazon jungle - alien and full of secrets. In 1989, I watched the Velvet Revolution unfold on TV, in what was seen in the West as a dramatic finale. In the East, the wave of change was of course also a starting point, for much longer evolutions. Driven by my own fascination, the need to see for myself, I focused on select case studies, where the contrasts in national destinies were most striking: rapid but often uneasy 'progress' in places like Prague and Warsaw; stagnation and identity crisis in Minsk; war and rebirth in the Balkans. By no means was I trying to be comprehensive, or even necessarily descriptive. My approach is generally instinctive. I try very hard to understand correctly, but am ultimately guided more by undercurrents and ambiguity than a desire to inform or explain.
In some places, the residue of accumulated spirits seems to be dispersed completely (perhaps to cheaper suburbs) by the approaching horsemen of globalism. Like a light being turned on in an attic. In others, the ghosts of history are still in the room, still flickering in unexpected moments, places, and faces.