Bil Zelman

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Bil Zelman
Portrait of photographer Bil Zelman.jpg
Portrait of photographer Bil Zelman
Born(1972-08-24)August 24, 1972
OccupationPhotographer, Director

Bil Zelman (born August 24, 1972) is an American photographer and director known for his powerful, candid portraiture and spontaneous, photojournalistic style.[1] Zelman developed a highly stylized form of hard-flash street photography while in art school [2] and Los Angeles Times art critic Leah Ollman compares the "psychological density"[3] of his work to the likes of Garry Winogrand, Larry Fink, Diane Arbus and William Klein- photographers that are "purposely getting it wrong in one way so as to get it right in another, disrupting visual order to ignite a kind of visceral disorder".[4]

He has been named one of the 200 Best Advertising Photographers Worldwide by Lüerzer's Archive [1] multiple times.

In regards to his ability to capture such genuine moments under stressful conditions and time constraints Zelman states, "Shooting good portraits is equal parts psychology, trust and technical expertise-- with the technical part probably being the least important".[5]

Zelman published Isolated Gesture in 2013, a collection of highly stylized black and white street photography.[6] The book was chosen for an Art Directors Club award by Albert Watson,[7]

Artweek portrays Isolated Gesture as "a cross between S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders and Dutch genre painting".[8] Referencing Zelman's distinctive style, Los Angeles Times art critic Leah Ollman proclaims that Zelman's guiding principle is having an intense proximity to his subject, "He doesn't shoot in a war zone but in the realm of ordinary life--on the street, at parties, in restaurants and stores. Working aggressively close to his subjects, and rapidly, intensifies whatever is in front of the camera".[3]

Selected Exhibitions and Permanent Collections[edit]


  1. ^ Hughes, Holly Stuart. Photo District News. "A Hands-Off Approach to Real-People Shoots" Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine 17 August 2009
  2. ^ Haggart, Rob. "Bil Zelman Shoots Pro Bono, But Not For Free" A Photo Editor. 8 December 2008 (/) 8 December 2008.
  3. ^ a b Ollman, Leah. In `No Single Truth,' Humanity's Potential for Good and Bad Los Angeles Times. 16 November 2001.
  4. ^ Ollman, Leah. Saatchi Online
  5. ^ Hobby, David. "Hanging Loose with Bil Zelman" Strobist. 10 February 2009.
  6. ^ Process magazine, 23 September 2009. Pg 48
  7. ^ "Watson, Albert. "Art Directors Club"". Archived from the original on 2013-05-10. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
  8. ^ Duford, Daniel. "Bil Zelman and Kirk Thompson at Oregon Center for Photography" Artweek. Feb 2008

External links[edit]