One of the great things about Windows 7 is the fact that it has a very strong visual personality. It includes a very diverse set of wallpapers from a long list of visual artists. The funny thing is, the wallpapers which our team likes best are all created by one photographer. His name is Will Austin and we were very fortunate to have him as a guest in this interview. If you want to know more about him and how he managed to get on the desktop of millions of people, don't hesitate to read our conversation.
Q: Who is Will Austin?
I'm a commercial photographer based in Seattle where I live with my wife and son. I was born in Colorado and my ancestors are mostly ranchers from Texas. Of course my website is
willaustin.com but I put my personal work on my photoblog, luminanceflux.com, which is a really fun creative outlet for me!
Q: When have you become passionate about photography?
My Dad was a very good photographer and I often used his old Canon Pellix camera but it was my uncle, who was a professional photographer, who really helped me out by allowing me attend his photography school and use his darkroom one summer when I was eleven. He even trusted me with his pro-level Nikon gear! I then went on to take many photo classes in school and shot for my high school yearbook.
Q: How long did it take you to become a professional photographer?
Never sure how to answer this question…. but I chipped away at it slowly for years until I had enough clients to do it full-time. I usually tell people that 'I am one this week' because I am 100% freelance!
Q: How would you describe the work you've done so far?
I started out doing a lot of nature photography and then moved into doing architecture/travel/people/industrial. I like to photograph everything though, I'd do it all day and night if I could.
Q: How did Microsoft get in touch with you?
Actually, I met one of their designers on an architecture shoot!
Q: How was it to work with Microsoft?
Great question and an easy answer - absolutely fantastic! They were so professional yet so friendly and down-to-earth, it was a great experience. I could also see that they really cared so much about their work and the project they were working on, it was inspiring.
Q: Where did you shoot the pictures you sent to Microsoft?
In Seattle! The 3 architecture photos were taken at the 'Seattle Center.' The shot of the hazel leaves with the dark red background was taken in the Washington Park Arboretum on a chilly morning. The proverbial 'shaft of light' came through the trees and only illuminated the leaves for a moment. I have been back there many times but the fall color has never again been that beautiful.
Q: How many pictures did you take for Microsoft and how many were shipped in the final version?
All of the photos were from my stock collection and they chose 6 for the wallpapers.
Q: Which picture is your favorite?
Wow, this is a difficult question, I remember taking them all. I'll judge by sentiment and say the hazel leaves because it is the first image I ever exhibited in a gallery!
Q: Do you have any interesting/funny events you would like to share about this collaboration?
Oh yes, I discovered that I had a past family connection with one of the people I worked with at Microsoft whose Grandmother cared for my Father when he was a baby!
Q: What gear did you use?
The nature photos were taken with Contax gear, the architecture with Nikon.
Q: How much post-processing have you done on your pictures?
Honestly, almost none. I love to do post work but these didn't need it, maybe besides dust spotting. I will say though that these were all taken when the light was really beautiful, the quality of the light was my paramount concern.
Q: Would you consider making your collection available for public download?
Well, they are already out there, and I have seen them on flickr too (not sure about the legality there). I am offering a very limited edition of prints which I am excited about.
Q: What do you think of Windows 7?
Well, of course I am very excited about it! Living in Seattle I have heard so many positive things about it during its development. I think the wallpapers are a great example of Microsoft's commitment to the user experience and they deserve all of the accolades they have been getting.
Exclusive Free Gift For Our Readers
Will Austin was kind enough to offer a free exclusive high-resolution wallpaper to all our readers. When using it, please keep in mind the copyright.
A big 'Thank You!' from our team to Will. Not only he is a friendly guy but also a great professional. If you enjoyed his work in Windows 7, don't hesitate to visit his personal page or his photo blog. Will has a very impressive portfolio with lots of great pictures.