by Emily Dodi

Some projects are a labor of love. Photographer William Horstick’s latest book is definitely that, but it is also so much more. Creating An Odd Collection of Strange Reflections served as therapy for Horstick while he was batting Stage 4 melanoma. The book is also a way for him to give to others fighting cancer.

“The idea for An Odd Collection of Strange Reflections came about due to my mental breakdown over hearing the news: ‘You have cancer. Not sure what type yet, but it’s cancer.’ I decided later that day to make this book and donate any profits to cancer research,” Horstick says.“I didn’t know what else to do. Photography (and coaching basketball) have always been my two outlets. It just made sense.”

An Odd Collection of Strange Reflections is filled with other-worldly images that Horstick culled from years of taking photos. “I annoy the hell out of people when I’m walking with them because I’ll stop and they’ll turn around and say ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Sorry, I’m getting the shot here.’ ” His camera of choice? His iPhone 7.

Back when he was a kid, he first used one of his dad’s old cameras and that’s when his love of photography blossomed. In high school, he took photos for the yearbook. Later, he graduated from Cecil College in Maryland with a visual communications degree in professional photography. After college, Horstick enlisted in the Navy with the hopes of becoming a photographer’s mate. When he was told it would be a long wait to get the advanced training, Horstick volunteered to fly. He was quoted in his alma mater’s press release as saying, “When one door closes, another opens. I was on my way to see the world as a submarine hunter. I brought my camera everywhere. I visited 20 different countries during my time in the Navy and was on a worldwide safari.”

Today he lives in Oxnard with his wife and family, and still brings his camera everywhere, ready to snap photos. He posts many of them to Instagram and Facebook. (His account is @67billh) After building a strong following, he was encouraged by friends and family to make a book, which he entitled Reflections.

An Odd Collection of Strange Reflections includes many photos that didn’t make it into his first book because, he says, “they were too strange. My reflection series are unique. I see the world differently. While most people are simply walking by a large window with reflections, I see a fourth dimension there. I like to fill up my images with information. There’s not a lot of dead space in my work and I rarely crop my images. You see what I see!”

Horstick’s work is rich in color, emotion and content. A first glance at one of his photos might reveal a ceramic tiger in a store window. Then, as your eye settles in, you may catch sight of guitars hanging in the window, then a lamp, an American flag, a palm tree and so much more. You may also identify a recurring theme in his photos. He admits to being drawn to guitars and motorcycles. “Things I can’t do,” he says with a laugh. Also, skulls, old cars and abandoned buildings. (Horstick says a future project may be devoted to “abandoned America.”)

“The fun thing is that I’m in a lot of them because you can’t not be,” he says, pointing to his reflection captured in one of the photographs.  

The release of An Odd Collection of Strange Reflections was followed by really wonderful news. “I am happy to report that I had a ‘clean’ brain scan. I am now on ‘maintenance doses’ of one of the immune system therapy drugs. Hey, that’s easy,” he says. “I am still here! There’s more photos out there. I need to go take them!”

Horstick stays in the picture.

An Odd Collection of Strange Reflections is available through Blurb at www.blurb.com/b/9554674-odd-collection-of-strange-reflections-paper. For every sale $3 will go to the American Cancer Society. Follow William Horstick on Instagram @67billh.