Prerogative Fall 2020 - Page 35

Billy Bowling’s passion for photography began as most photographers do: a hobby. While working for ABC News in Florida, Bowling was put in charge of covering sporting events and these experiences piqued his interest. “It just kind of took off from there,” Bowling said. “When I left and moved back to this area, you always hear the bad stigmas about the area, it is like, it is all drugs, there is nothing to do, people are leaving constantly and I thought, ‘When you get out and you start seeing some of the things that the area has to offer, you realize that is not true. There is so much to see and do.” Bowling, originally from Tazewell,Va., wants to use his photography to convey a different image of Appalachia to the world. “My photography is my way of shining a good light on this area,” he said. “I don’t even consider it working hard to help fix it, I just really enjoy what I do. Anytime I can get my family out with me to do it, it is ten times better.” Bowling and his wife, Emmy, run their photography business while raising three children. “We have a pretty good little clan,” he said. “I am a local kid that did what everyone typically does, you leave to go see the world and figure things out on your own and when I came back to take care of my mom before she passed away, and, just the stigma of the area that you get when you move away from here,” Bowling said. “You tell people that you are from Virginia, bordering on West Virginia and you start hearing, ‘That is where the drugs are,’ or ‘people don’t have educations,’ ‘if you’re not a coal miner,’ that is the area. When I came back, it kind of sits wrong with you and you want to do something about it and that is what I set out to do when I started everything.” On any given morning, you may find Bowling on the road, photographing after leaving his home at 2 a.m. to get those perfect sunrise shots. While “playing around with photography” in Florida, Bowling discovered his early bird tendencies and used them to further his photography. “For the most part, it is easy for me to go out at 3 a.m. and get some peace and quiet and a good sunrise, I can usually travel,” Bowling said. “I try to see new stuff all the time. I do not want to get complacent, shooting the same stuff repeatedly, so I am just constantly out, trying to explore.” Bowling and Emmy began photographing together, and eventually started a business together. The couple shoots weddings, portraits and more. “I am self-taught. I think that just came with shooting so much. I originally worked with Canon Equipment, but I switched over to Nikon,” Bowling said. “My wife kind of pushed me toward switching to Nikon. We picked up the drone and I really like incorporating the drone more. I have Prerogative Magazine 33