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Adjunct professor publishes third book of photojournalism

Feb 7, 2017

Posted in: News

The First Reflections

It started in a random way. Will Daniel, an adjunct professor of seven years in the Robertson School,  just began taking photos one day of the James River. He started in Richmond. There was no intent behind these photos. He just enjoyed taking them. As he captured more of the river in the city, he travelled a little farther out to shoot what he hadn’t yet seen. Then, after that, he went a little farther—upriver first and then downriver. Two years later, Daniel had managed to photograph the entire James, from Bath County to Hampton Roads.

The question now was what he could do with the photographs. Daniel could not surmise any answer but one: a book. Those first photos—250, to be exact--constituted what would be Daniel's first book, “James River Reflections.”

Will Daniel
Will Daniel

This is how Daniel got his start as one of the most prolific river photographers in the state. Six years after he began photographing the James, Daniel—while keeping up with his adjunct schedule in the Robertson School-- has managed to keep up a consistent output of photography books.

“The idea was simply to capture the beauty of these rivers,” Daniel said. “I’ve always appreciated the beauty of a river. It’s always fascinated me. It’s always captured my imagination. I’m looking for my readers to get enlightenment in regard to the beauty and importance of these rivers”  

After publishing what would the first book to ever document the James River it its entirety, Daniel turned another book around in less than two years. In 2013, he published his second book of photography and writing, “My Virginia Rivers.” The book focused more broadly on all the rivers in the state, as well as the history and ecology behind them.  


Daniel's latest book of photography and writing.
Daniel's latest book of photography and writing.

New Reflections

This month, Daniel and Schiffer Publishing will release his third book, “Delaware River Reflections.”  

Covering the Delaware River from New York down to the coast of Delaware, Daniel’s new book uses the same four-pronged approach to photojournalism as in his previous books, he said. There is an equal mix of original photos, historical photos, anecdotal writing and research-based historical narratives. There is also a foreword by Delaware Riverkeeper May K. Van Rossum.

With his new book, as in the "My Virginia River," Daniel said he took to asking more questions about the ecology and health of the rivers than he did in “James River Reflections.” It was not an intentional shift in direction, but more so one that gradually happened as he spent more time around rivers and individuals that protect them, he said.

“I used to be the guy that just liked to go down to the river bank and take a photo,” Daniel said. “I didn’t consider myself a conservationist at all. But as I’ve worked on these books, and talked to more people, I became a lot more in tune with the issues. I began to better understand that we have to take care of these rivers, or their beauty won’t be there for future generations to see.”

Daniel will give a lecture, “Rivers of the Eastern Seaboard: Aesthetics, Economics and Ecology," on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at noon in the Science Museum of Virginia. It is free and open to the public.