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Rising Stars: Meet Will Fenwick

Today we’d like to introduce you to Will Fenwick. 

Hi Will, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
My story began around the age of 11 when I first started skateboarding. Skateboarding was pretty much the first thing I ever felt like I was good at. I became obsessed with it and with this obsession, I saw potential to become something bigger. I watched millions of skate videos in my free time and eventually reached the point of looking at sponsorships which required a video of my own. Needless to say, it’s hard to make a video without a camera. 

My parents ended up buying me a small handycam soon after, so I started teaching myself the technical components of filming and editing. At the time I didn’t really have anyone to film, so I’d carry around this mini tripod, set it up and dive in all by myself. As I became a teenager, I eventually found a group of friends to skate/film with, started to gain a more distinguished artistic vision, sponsorships started to accumulate but so did broken bones and rolled ankles. Even during my downtime all I wanted to do was create. As a matter of fact, I might not have picked up photography if I hadn’t broken my collarbone. 

Two years later as a junior in high school, I decided to become a journalist for the school, and the following year as a senior I not only became the lead photojournalist but also started placing in photography competitions across the nation. Published work and freelance opportunities started popping up before I even graduated high school, but I still didn’t take my craft as seriously as I should’ve – that all changed when I was given a random opportunity to work with Too Short and Snoop Dogg in 2018. I dropped out of college afterward and put all of my energy into the music industry, immediately attending a whole week of 21+ SXSW showcases as a 19-year-old with a fake ID strictly to take pictures and unexpectedly catching the group “Her’s” last performance in the process. Whether I was shooting six concerts in one week or only one, I absolutely loved working in the music scene and couldn’t capture enough. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The path has been pretty rough thus far, but I love the process. The pandemic put a very noticeable bruise on the music industry which threw us all out of sorts, but the past two years were very transformative at least in my experience. I’m open to saying I’m grateful for the pandemic happening because it gave me and millions of others an opportunity to step back and evaluate how we’re all approaching our own lives, our bad habits, insecurities, and how to work through them. Taking this step back helped me grow substantially as a person and especially as an artist. In this period of time, I was able to backpack throughout the western United States and even move to the Pacific Northwest for a bit, pushing me even closer into wanting to become a consistent full-time artist again, which I’ve recently been able to do. 

Most recently I’ve been challenged with balancing being a freelance artist with being a businessman. As a visual artist we’re naturally entrepreneurs and with being an entrepreneur we must learn how to swim or otherwise sink in an extremely competitive industry. Luckily my good friend Zach Sinclair at Grizzly Media has seriously helped me with the business aspect and has given me so much food for thought. In the past month alone, we’ve worked together on several projects and for the first time ever it’s given me experience working as a creative team in comparison to being a solo artist. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
So, I’m primarily a photographer but after an almost seven-year hiatus, I’ve decided to dive back into cinematography which has set me quite outside my comfort zone. I’d say the majority of my claim to fame is tied to my music-based photography, but I’ve also gained a lot of attention from my landscape photography. Some of my work has even been noticed by organizations like Nikon and the Ryman Auditorium. I was also able to self-publish a book, Get Busy Livin’, earlier this year which is based around a three-month backpacking trip from 2021. I have a lot of pride in my photography altogether and sometimes it’s really hard to set yourself apart from the crowd as a photographer, but with a dedicated, competitive, consistent work ethic mixed with the little bit of luck I’ve been gifted thus far has set me apart from the crowd in my own unique way. 

What matters most to you?
As of recently interpersonal connection has become more important to me than the art itself. Although I’m a pure introvert who truly values alone time, I take a lot of inspiration from the interactions and experiences I share with other people no matter who they are, without it my creative battery never seems fully charged. Being born and raised in Kentucky I’ve clearly been surrounded by southern culture which may be to blame but it’s simply part of who I am, and I love it. We all need to remember there’s a person behind the lens with a life of their own and seeing someone as simply a “photographer” keeps the industry at a boring 2D perspective. In addition, I want to see all photographers on the same plane instead of more successful creatives allowing their egos to label them as superior. Why support a talented artist if they’re an asshole in person? 

With this being said I’m so glad there’s such a supportive community here in Louisville. There are hundreds of people I could point out, but everyone in my closest circle much like my friend Deveraux have stuck by my side for nearly ten years now and that’s just not a connection everyone is fortunate enough to have. From a more communal standpoint, several local venues have closed over the past few months, but our scene has managed to try and work around the misfortune and what immediately comes to mind is a new up-and-coming venue called The Monarch (@themonarch_music) which plans to run as a nonprofit creative hub for our local music and art community. A lot of people genuinely don’t give our city enough credit, but I know without Louisville’s local scene we wouldn’t have made it nearly as far as we have today. 

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