By Lisa Rodgers


BOONE COUNTY-‘You know you grew up in Belvidere, IL when…’ is a private Facebook group (you may request to be added) where Bill Eklund has been sharing some of his local photography.  Bill’s photos have provided a glimpse of home for some who live far away, created long discussions, and has caught the eye of many local residents.  What started out as following up on a “photography experience that kindled a spark that smoldered inside of me for 30 years” has developed (pardon the pun) into something more than he could have ever imagined.

Bill Eklund grew up in Belvidere and is a graduate of Belvidere High School Class of 1981.  Bill spent most of his school summer vacations running the river banks of the Belvidere Park which would later inspire his photography preference.

While attending Belvidere High School, he took a photography class with Mr. (Doc) Watson.  He was provided an SLR camera in 1979 for six weeks and took it everywhere.  “I stumbled thru Doc. Watson’s photography class in high school, but that photography experience has stayed with me,” said Eklund.

“In 2009, I finally got around to buying a ‘real’ camera. It was much like the camera I so coveted back in high school, only a little more advanced. No film, full digital. Boy was I overwhelmed! I needed to learn what all of these dials & buttons were used for. So I enrolled in an ‘Introduction to digital photography’ course at Rock Valley College and made a serious effort to learn how to use it. I learned how to use my camera and the basics of photography. I was fascinated with the possibilities that this device presented.  I took my new camera and new found knowledge and headed to the Belvidere Park to take pictures,” explained Eklund.

For the next several years Eklund would enter local contests and win which inspired him to continue on his photography journey.  “This past year has been very rewarding for my photography as well.  My photos took a 1st and 3rd at Beckman Mill in Beloit.  Boone County Fair awarded my photos a total of 22 ribbons; Best of Show color, Best of Show Black and White, 17 Blue ribbons, two second, two third and one fourth place ribbon.  Winnebago County Fair awarded a total of seven ribbons ( five were blue) and Best of Show,” continued Eklund.

The year 2014 would find Eklund in a new venue with the assistance of another local resident following on Facebook.  Nancy Ellis-Anderson is employed by Luecke Jewelers.  “I approached my boss Marcia Luecke-Toepfer after having seen Bill’s photos.  I asked if we could sell them in our store as many people were requesting to buy his photos.  I thought it would be nice for him to have a local location.  Marcia thought it was a fabulous idea,” Ellis Anderson said.

“I approached Bill and we began selling his framed photos this past November.  Everything on display in the store is from the local parks or area.”

“It’s been amazing to see the personal impact on our customers.  Many emotionally connecting to Bill’s photos have purchased a photos for that very reason.  Bill is so humble and is wonderful to work with.  He is very accommodating to all his customers,” explained Ellis-Anderson.

“I never seem to tire of photographing our parks as there always seems to be a new capture to be had there.  Usually what I am looking to for when I go out for a photo shoot is pieces of ‘Americana’. I enjoy trying to capture the spirit of my hometown whenever I can. I feel compelled to capture the emotion of the time and share it. I strive to show people things that they see every day, in a way that they have never seen them before,’ added Eklund.

“Please stop by Luecke Jewelers to see Bill Eklund’s photography.  They are simply breathtaking,” concluded Ellis-Anderson.

“I really can’t explain how I do what I do. Since being bitten by the photography bug, I just seem to look at the world from a whole different perspective. It is so very rewarding knowing that you touch so many people with your passion.  People love what I do and I love what I do,” expressed Eklund.

Luecke Jewelers is located at 1444 North State Street, Belvidere.

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