Industry News

We Salute You, Bill

December 12, 2012

By RF Staff

As Bill Hurter moves on from Rangefinder and WPPI, we asked some of his closest industry pals to share their anecdotes and sentiments on working with him over the years. As for us, everyone here on staff will greatly miss Bill—his presence, influence and incredible industry insight tops all. We wish him all the best.

—The RF and WPPI Staff 

“When I started at Rangefinder/WPPI in 2001, I’d already known Bill for many years from his other endeavors in the photo community. Like any new relationship, we had a few disagreements over those first few months, but our friendship and respect for each other grew with each new issue. At the time, Rangefinder was at best 70 to 80 pages, WPPI only had a couple hundred exhibitors and 3,500 attendees, and there was no AfterCapture magazine. Over the next seven years, Bill would become one of my very best friends. He’s one of the finest editors in the industry, though I lost count of how many books he’s personally authored. All I know is that my daughter still moves his books to the back and mine to the front when she’s in a bookstore! Bill’s influence through the magazine, his books and personal contact have helped build the careers of thousands of professional photographers. In short, a guiding light by any other name would be Bill Hurter.”

—Skip Cohen

”So what do you say in just one paragraph about a man of such talent and vision, a supporter, leader, educator, author, client and friend? Bill’s talent and ability to know photography and its techniques, lighting and composition is a true gift that he readily shares. A man of vision, Bill has supported and led hundreds of photographers and volunteers to grow WPPI, one of the largest organizations in the craft and trade of photography today. The principles he teaches in his books propel the creative element in all of us. I was honored when he asked me last year to photograph his son and daughter-in-law’s wedding. I will carry that experience with me the rest of my career. The definition of a friend is, ‘One attached to another by affection or esteem.’ To call Bill my friend—a friend with such abilities, a man I respect and a man who believes in me—is a blessing I can’t describe. Blessings to you Bill! You deserve them, my friend.”

—Paul Ernest

"When I was the publisher of Rangefinder, Bill and I would fight every month about what to put on the cover. It’s no secret that Bill was a huge animal lover, and he would have put an animal on the cover every month if he could. I used to joke that his dream job was editor ofCat Fancy. In all seriousness, though, he is one of the smartest people I ever had the pleasure of working with. He’s been a great mentor, a good friend, and someone who I had a lot of fun working with. Plus, I think we made one of the best teams around. We won a lot of awards, launched a magazine, grew a show to four times what it originally was, and had a blast along the way. I really miss working with you, Bill!”

—George Varanakis

“Bill was one of the first friendly faces I met at WPPI when I started actively speaking there about 10 years ago. I remember he always had a smile on his face and would greet you like an old friend, even when he may have just met you. As I got to know him a bit better, and all the things he was involved in, I became even more impressed with what he had accomplished. That he managed to write so many educational photography books and corral the myriad speakers and contributors to WPPI events, and still maintain his calm, friendly composure, is amazing. I love his sense of humor and genuine care for the people in this industry. He is all about helping us succeed and making our industry an even better place to call home. We’ll miss seeing Bill speeding through the halls at WPPI, but will certainly never stop thinking about him and the friendship he shared with so many.”

—Kevin Kubota

“In 1986, I went to work with noted photographer Dean Collins in San Diego. The goal was to develop an educational team and go into print, video and more. I started writing the monthly column ‘Collins on Basics’ for Petersen’s PHOTOgraphic magazine, and Bill Hurter was the editor. For me, it was like I had hit the big time. I had a well-respected editor talking to me monthly—okay, okay, yelling at me monthly—because I was always late with my column. I next went to teach at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara and since Bill was an esteemed alumnus, we would often speak about that time in his life. From then on, Bill and I have been strong colleagues and great friends. I worked closely with him on WPPI Print Competition for the past 15 or so years, and love his great sense of humor, especially at times of stress and tension. I miss my friend Bill and if you are reading this, you know we all love ya.”

—Tony L. Corbell

“I’ve had the honor of knowing Bill (‘Uncle Bill’ to me and others) for almost 20 years. Zealous by nature, kind in heart, a forward-thinker in a time when many followed the traditional route, Bill always had an eye for finding new, trend-setting styles of photography, and photographers. He also always had an open door for those of us lucky enough to take advantage of his wisdom. If WPPI is a family, then Bill Hurter is and always will be my favorite uncle.”

—Bambi Cantrell

“There is no question that Bill Hurter has made his mark as a friend, colleague and industry giant to me and countless photographers all over the world. There is no hype with Bill. As the backbone of Rangefinder, many people who don’t know him will never know just how much this humble man with an incredible acumen and a dry sense of humor has affected the industry as we know it today. I will miss dodging his speedy turns on that scooter at WPPI.”

—Jerry Ghionis

“Mister Bill—I say that with the utmost respect. Bill Hurter has been my friend for over 17 years, as he was an integral part of running WPPI. Bill has been a wonderful friend and I’d like to tell you why. Bill made sure to get others to be visible within the photographic community. Bill would often introduce new talent and provide exposure to many of the current headliners by including many of us in his books, publishing us in Rangefinder and promoting us at WPPI. He has always remained nearly invisible while overseeing both Print Competition and the well-directed Awards Ceremony, amongst other responsibilities at WPPI. Bill has gone beyond the convention as the editor of Rangefinder magazine, helping turn it into one of the leading magazines in photography. Bill thrives on helping people succeed selflessly. His vision for the WPPI Print Comp has always been to blend the traditional photographers with new, emerging talent. I remember my first personal encounter with Bill at a print judging in the mid-1990s: I was upset about how a jury chairman was behaving and I found Bill to share my unhappiness. He offered, ‘Do you think that you could do a better job?’ I thought for a moment and said ‘YES!’ The next year, I was invited do be a judge and soon Jury Chairman. I have now grown to be Director of WPPI Print Competition. With Bill’s passion for motorcycles, I am hoping to rent a motorcycle with a side car and have Bill join me on my annual WPPI motorcycle ride on Thursday, March 14.”

—Ken Sklute

“I have so many fond memories of Bill during our years together at Rangefinder and WPPI: He and George [Varanakis] fighting over what cover to choose (George always wanted the more cutting-edge one, Bill the more traditional); Bill on his scooter at WPPI, running into the back of the elevators and actually making a dent in a wall at Bally’s; Bill’s great relationship with his younger editors (he was like a dad to them); Bill’s expression when we surprised him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the WPPI Awards Ceremony three years ago...I could go on and on. He’s such a knowledgeable person, not only about photography, but so many other things. We all learned so much from him and will really miss working with him.”

—Arlene Evans

“In 2004, I attended WPPI in Las Vegas for the very first time. I wasn’t one for conventions, especially for wedding photographers. Photographic education was something I learned on assignment during my 6,000 assignments as a photojournalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer. However, a dear friend convinced me to go with him, and we hopped on a plane to Vegas. 

Jump ahead to the Jubilee Theatre where I tiptoed toward a portly man sitting by himself high above the crowd observing one of a zillion seminars that week. When I asked if he was Bill Hurter, he looked at me as if I had three heads. I kneeled down beside him and asked, in a soft whisper, if he might he have a few minutes to chat. It was obvious he wasn’t in the mood, but he reluctantly agreed. I waited 90 minutes at the show office for him. Finally, when he arrived, he looked at my work for 90 seconds and then asked in a dry tone, ‘Where have you been?’ In 2005 I gave a seminar called ‘Editorial Vision in Wedding Photography’ and I’ve been back there every year since.

That’s Bill Hurter in the proverbial nutshell. He’s a man who gave an opportunity to a nobody photographer from Philly because he took a moment to humor me. Bill never subscribes to the ‘good ol’ boy’ networks that make up so much of our industry. He always put photography first. It was as if he was one of the guardian angels of the craft. I’m sure it’s a story that many others can tell because he’s touched so many of us. His vision, and his voice have allowed creativity to become the driving force behind WPPI, Rangefinder and anything else Bill has signed his name to.

On a personal note, Bill has made more impact on my career than anyone. He’s allowed me to find my passion, and my voice in an industry chock full of talented photographers and educators. His influence with WPPI, Rangefinder and the slew of books he’s written will still be a driving force within the world of photography regardless of whether he’s editing for Rangefinder, writing books, or speeding around the halls of WPPI in Vegas. Thank you, Bill Hurter, for all you’ve done for so many photographers, who you’ve touched and influenced so deeply.”

—Cliff Mautner

“Bill has always been the heart and soul of Rangefinder. During the nine years we worked together, I watched as he turned Rangefinderfrom a small publication to a thriving enterprise. Rangefinder itself quickly became a ‘What’s Next’ publication. You knew you were in for a surprise when you saw the exciting covers from month to month. All I can say about the articles that Bill managed over the years is ‘Wow.’ Creatively, he made you see things in a whole new light. We all worked well together, and we are all still close. As far as I am concerned, Bill is a genius, an innovator and a mentor of mine, and I will never forget what he has meant to me over the years and continues to today.”

—Carl Lozada

Send your Bill Hurter anecdotes and best wishes to and we will post them online.