‘Inside UVA’: This Professor’s Blackboard Is the Lens of a Camera

January 25, 2024 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Audio: ‘Inside UVA’: This Professor’s Blackboard Is the Lens of a Camera(31:15)

Listen to how this celebrated professor of art composes photographs. The secret, Commonwealth Professor of Art Bill Wylie says, is to “make” a photograph, not “take” one.


He is a renowned photographer and celebrated artist and the University of Virginia’s Commonwealth Professor of Art.

Bill Wylie’s work “can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery, the Smithsonian Art Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” said President Jim Ryan, by way of introduction, in the latest episode of his podcast, “Inside UVA.”

Wylie’s specialty is photography, and he has led UVA’s study abroad program in Italy since 2007.

When discussing photography, Wylie, a member of the faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences, talks about “making” a photograph, not “taking one.”

“When I work with a camera, I think about the composition, I’m putting parts together. … That’s very similar to if I was standing in front of a blank piece of paper and deciding to make a drawing, you know,” he told Ryan. “I’d make a mark here, I’d make a mark there, I think, over here in the corner, it needs something; I need to sort of balance this over here. I’m looking through the viewfinder and I’m doing that exact same thing.”

“It’s something I always talk to my students about,” he said. “That’s what I want you to do. I want you to make a picture – you know, be involved.”

You can learn more about Wylie’s artistry and scholarship – including his work in settings from Italy to eastern Colorado – by tuning into “Inside UVA,” which is streamed on most podcast apps, including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts.

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Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications