The first time was a charm for Bill Silliman.
The Park City-based photographer made his Utah State Fair photo contest debut a few weeks ago, when he entered two of his works into the event’s photography contest.
His photo of a barn and tractor he took earlier this year near Pullman, Washington, won first place in the professional panoramic photography division, and it was selected by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums to exhibit with 24 other photographs in schools, museums, universities and libraries throughout the state.
The program, according to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, is to expose award-winning artwork to underserved communities and help artists reach more viewers.
“It’s an honor to have my photo chosen because there were a lot of photos entered,” said Silliman, a member of the Park City Professional Artists Association. “It’s great to know there are people all over the state who will get to see my work.”
Silliman started dabbling in photography as a hobby back in the 1960s, after he graduated from North Dakota State University with a pharmacy degree.
“My brother-in-law had just come back from Okinawa after serving in the military, and he gave me a Ricoh camera, which I still have,” Silliman said.
He began taking photographs of wildlife, which he came to love because of his childhood spent on a farm in York, North Dakota.
“There were a lot of white tails and badgers that I would see every day,” he said.
After moving to Manassas, Virginia, to start his career in pharmacy in 1966, Silliman enrolled in a program called The Famous Photographers School, which was started by Richard Avedon and Bert Stern, photojournalists who worked for Life and Look magazines.
“Every two weeks you had to take a black and white photograph and send it in for critiques,” he said. “I did that for two years, and as I got more interested in photography, I would buy the next new model of camera and go from there.”
Silliman relocated to Southern California in the 1980s, and installed a darkroom in his home.
While still working as a pharmacist, Silliman began showing his work in the Art-A-Fair art show in Laguna Beach.
“Once you got in, you were able to show all summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” he said.
Silliman retired from being a pharmacist 11 years ago, and moved to Park City to ski.
“I kept visiting the Park Silly Sunday Market, and after three or four years, I finally applied to show my photos,” he said. “I’ve been doing the market for five years.”
Throughout his time in Park City, Silliman has shown his work at various Summit County showcases and has donated his photos to raise money for nonprofits, including USA Nordicand the National Ability Center.
“I believe in helping charities,” he said.
His mural of Park City in the fall is currently showing at Smith’s Marketplace at Kimball Junction, and when people order prints, 10 percent of the sales are donated to Primary Children’s Hospital.
Some of his photographs can also be seen on display at the Park City Hospital as part of the Kimball Art Center’s Art for Healing program, which uses art to uplift patients and their families.
Silliman, who has visited Alaska and all of the national parks in the United States as well as Africa, loves all the different aspects of taking photographs.
“It’s hard finding the right location and taking the right photo, but I’m spending time out in the wilderness,” he said. “Besides being out in the wilderness, I also love having somebody who enjoys my photos so much that they want to purchase them, and look at them for 20 to 30 years.”
Silliman also likes interacting with his clients.
“During one Park Silly Market, a girl who was in high school bought one of my photos with her babysitting money,” he said. “After she bought it, she and her mom went to eat. A few minutes later they came back, and the girl is holding the photo like she was hugging it and she said, ‘All I can think about is my photo.’”
The next place Silliman wants to visit is Antarctica.
“I think it would be fun to ski a few runs and then take some penguin photos,” he said.
For information about photographer Bill Silliman, visit http://www.billsillimanphotography.com.