Bill Jay began his career in England where he was the first Director of Photography at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the first editor/director of Creative Camera and Album magazines. During this time, he earned a living as picture editor of a large circulation news/feature magazine and as the European manager of an international picture agency.
After studying with Beaumont Newhall and Van Deren Coke at the University of New Mexico, he founded the program of Photographic Studies at Arizona State University where he taught history and criticism classes for 25 years.
Bill Jay has published over 400 articles and is the author of more than 20 books on the history and criticism of photography. Some of his recent titles include: Cyanide and Spirits: an inside-out view of early photography; Occam’s Razor: an outside-in view of contemporary photography; USA Photography Guide; Bernard Shaw: On Photography; Negative/Positive: a philosophy of photography; 61 Pimlico; Sun in the Blood of the Cat, Men Like Me, etc. He is frequently asked to contribute essays to monographs by well-known photographers, such as Jerry Uelsmann, Bill Brandt, Michael Kenna and Bruce Barnbaum. He continues to write a regular column for the journal, LensWork.
Until his retirement Bill Jay was a frequent guest lecturer at symposia and conferences and at colleges and universities in Britain and Europe as well as throughout the USA.
His own photographs have been widely published and exhibited, including a one-person show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His previous monograph, Photographers Photographed, included a selection of the thousands of portraits he has taken of prominent individuals in the medium of photography, a database of which is located at the Center of Creative Photography, which also houses his research archives.