A portrait that declines to name its subject becomes complicit, if inadvertently in the cult of celebrity that has fueled an insatiable appetite for the opposite sort of photograph: to grant only the famous their names demotes the rest to representative instances of their occupations, their ethnicities, their plights.
-Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Francis A. Willey is part indigenous and is proud of his Cree Ancestors on his mother's side and respects the history, languages, and cultures of the First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and all First Peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich his practice.
Francis A. Willey acknowledges that he is located on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Niitsitapi (inclusive of the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Iyarhe Nakoda (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.
Francis A. Willey Canadian (Born, July 21st, 1969) Self-taught, 35mm film photographer. He is deeply fascinated by fabric and historical textiles and is a collector of rare books and antiquities. He writes poetry and also enjoys composing music on the piano in his spare time. All his images are created in-camera without post-production. He has been referred to as a portraitist or a neo-pictorialist in his photographic pursuits by the academic art world. He searches for depth in storytelling, continuity, and mystery to the narrative, and spirit of each individual, he has the pleasure of photographing.
He received his first KODAK camera when he was 12 years old from his mother June. The first frame ever captured with the aperture of his camera was a portrait of his mother.
He believes that a deeper, more compassionate culture can be created through the arts. As an outsider artist, he has always been questing for and seeking refuge in a higher beauty.
Francis composes ballads and poems, creates collages, and draws from life's observations. His school was the value of nature and dreams, people, intuition, that one develops by sharing empathy.
His extended travels to Southeast Asia and the Himalayas had an enormous influence on his art in the '90s. During these wanderings, a spiritual depth increased in his work, as he lived in monasteries and with local families.
In February 2011 he lost a tremendous amount to a tragic house fire that destroyed his home and his art, and most of his photographic negatives. The flames took his 35mm film cameras, darkroom, drawings, and his worldly possessions. Some of the images in the following galleries are what remain.
“Francis is one of my favorite contemporary photographers. His lovely, ethereal, but also very real images show us the magic and mystery that can be found in our modern world. We just need to know where to look.” Dr.Theodora Goss(Senior Lecturer at Boston University. MFA/Ph.D. Boston University.)
"Francis Willey is a true artist; the strength of vision he brings to his work is rarely seen in contemporary photography. Through both his art and his interactions, Francis shines a light into an often dark and unforgiving world."-
Sienna Hayes(Model and Aerialist)
"Francis places the poetry into the photography"- Paul Kelly (Director)
"It's truly beautiful and legitimizes photography as an art. With all the trashy "fashion photography" floating around and unexciting commercial stuff that I do on a regular basis for magazines and print, I've forgotten why I even like to be photographed at all. Your work has just reminded me that it's because once in a great while there's a chance to be part of the creation of an image like yours, where a woman's body or face can be sexy in a softer, subtle way rather than so harshly presented as an object. So thanks."
(Actress and Writer)
“I have no words, upon seeing blindness”
Alexander McQueen (Fashion Designer)
“I like how your head works”
Douglas Kirkland (Photographer)
"Francis, I might not know from where the cold wind blows, but I know what I like and I dig your work. You can take that to the bank on your way mental baby! Don't go, Don't go yet, it's wonderful stuff."
Christopher Walken (American actor, dancer, director, screenwriter, and playwright)
His work has been exhibited, published, and internationally awarded. NYC, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, and Italy, his photographs are collected internationally and are part of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Art. His photographic book 'Ghost' was awarded 3rd prize in Paris at the PX3 awards in the fine art book category.
Blindness has caused political and social reverberation, through the deliberate appropriation of the image in a multitude of cultures, countries, and religions worldwide.