Photographer Spotlight Monday: Austin Willis




TOAN Magazine Photographer Spotlight Monday Featuring: Austin Willis

PSMPreferred name: “Austin Willis is my name but I’m more commonly known by the masses as Willis.”

Where you are from: Hayward, Ca

Current area of residence: San Francisco Bay Area

Instagram: @visualsbywillis

More Work: and

TOAN: Do you have a focus on one specific area of photography, i.e.: fashion, landscape, portraiture, events, etc? If so, which?


Austin Willis: I definitely say I focus my craft in certain areas, portraiture and fine art photography are the two that give me most pleasure when I’m creating. I shoot concerts and what not but my bread and butter definitely in portraiture and fine art.

TOAN: What are your thoughts on saturation in the photography industry due to social media?

AW: Hmm, this is a loaded question because it goes it goes both ways, there are a lot of positives and negatives to social media and how it has affected the industry. On one hand it has saturated the industry because you have so many people trying “artsy” or “hip” just to get likes on instagram. But it so much more than that; you can’t force anything when comes to being a creative you either got the juice or you don’t. True artist can tell the difference between someone who really trying be a student of the craft and respecting it, to where they want to continue growing with the craft. Art isn’t just about pushing a button or putting paint on something. If you’re really going to be about this life don’t do it for the likes or the gratitude of other people. Put your soul into your craft; embody and express your thoughts through your work. Not just to sexualize women by shooting them half naked. You have so many people creating the same things because they truly aren’t students of the craft and just think if they create it how that guy did, they going to get all the same benefits that they did as well. So I think thats how social media has saturated the industry; yet then the other had of the question if wasn’t for social media a lot people would have the means and platforms to showcase their work get their creations out to the world to be seen. In simple terms social media is a double edge sword. With great power comes responsibility it’s a matter of understanding how to use it properly.


TOAN: Because of its origin and some specific knowledge of settings, numbers and so forth, do you consider photography an art, science, or skill/talent?


AW: I’d say it’s all 3. The art of it comes from how each photographer captures and tells a story their work. The science comes from how to understand your angles, how lighting is used properly to expose the shoot, how the camera functions and each part of it contributes to another. Then it’s a skill because you can learn and develop it with practice as you do it more and more.












TOAN: How did you decide on photography as something to commit your time to?

AW: So pretty much I started out doing graphic design and illustration, and I had hella friends that were photographers that I was out and about with all the time. So one day i was just like screw it im try this out since I’m always out and about with y’all and gave me away to create on the go. At first it was just for fun I shooting on an iPhone for a good minute. Then I started using a camera here and there when I could use a friends or something. Then around November 2014 I start really falling in love with the medium so I was like yo let me try this seriously. I was using my brothers camera at time but I was using the most so ended up trading him the Jordan 11’s and bunch of Nike gear (was clutch working for Nike I guess aha) for the camera. That was pretty much the starting point and just became a student to the craft and kept progressing and learning for last 9 months to the point I’m at now.

TOAN: What do you imagine to be doing with photography in 6 months? 5 years?

AW: In 6 months showing my work in galleries around United States while i’m over in London or South Africa creating more work. 5 years having my own studio to create all the time, showing in galleries, traveling a lot more. Simply just enjoying the life I have and continuing to create and inspire other people.