Featured image: Paolo Destefanis
Editor’s Note: William Rivelli joined ASMP in April 1974 and was a former ASMP National Board member and educator.
William Rivelli is an original in the world of photography: a recognized master of architectural, portrait and industrial photography in both the advertising and corporate fields whose personal work has found a place in galleries and fine-art publications.
William briefly pursued a business career after graduating Brown University as a Philosophy major but quickly turned to his passion from the age of twelve–photography. Bill began his professional career as an assistant to Life Magazine photographer Nina Leen. Her strict mentoring enabled him to pursue a subsequent apprenticeship with Ralph Steiner, who became his photographic guide and life-long friend. Bill simultaneously studied aesthetics with Alexey Brodovitch and David Vestal.
When William opened his own studio in1963, he focused on fashion, but quickly turned to the world of corporate and advertising photography with its vast array of subjects, locations and visual challenges. His assignments have taken him around the world many times, photographing everything from coal mines to stock exchanges; surgeons to oil riggers; aerials to photomicrographs; architecture, people, still lives.
Among the many corporations William has completed major projects for are: JP Morgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, Deutsche Telekom, The New York Stock Exchange, Exxon/Mobil. He has worked with major advertising and design firms such as Pentagram, Publicis and Ogilvy & Mather to name a few.
His career has also been rewarded with exhibitions of his personal and professional work and awards from publications such as Graphis Fine Art Photography, Communication Arts and American Photography; photographers’ professional societies (ASMP, APA); Art Director’s Clubs of New York, New Jersey, Boston and Toronto; and major corporations. He also enjoyed speaking and teaching engagements around the country.
William’s career was crowned by a commission from Citigroup that produced a collection of 600 black-and-white prints that were on display at their corporate headquarters and became part of their fine art collection. Another career highlight was a solo show at the Municipal Art Society’s gallery in the Villard Houses in New York City of his “Cathedral Portfolio;” i.e. black-and-white and color photographs of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Selected images from this portfolio were again displayed in connection with the re-dedication of the Cathedral in 2008.
In 2009, William Rivelli celebrated his fiftieth year in photography. In March of 2010 he began a new personal project to photograph the renovation of the United Nations’ landmark building in New York with an eye to creating a fine art portfolio of the process and the transformation. The project continued through 2013 and he fully retired after its completion since his health was in serious decline. William’s life was ended by Covid pneumonia on January 16, 2024 but his work remains.