I Spy
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Meet Walter Wick
Walter WickLooking back, I'm grateful for the freedom I had as a child - to explore, invent and discover. Those days provided the foundation for the work I do now.

I grew up in a rural part of Connecticut. We loved exploring the nearby woods. Sometimes I would find objects I could use for homemade probjects. I loved to tinker and build. My first serious interest in art began with drawings and painting in high school. It was then that my brother Robert introduced me to the magic of photography. I studied photography at Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut. After graduating in 1973, I worked as a lab technician and assistant to a commercial photographer. I was fascinated with the technical challenges of making the shiny surfaces, shadows, and highlights look exactly right in the photographs.

Before long, I moved to New York City and started my own studio. At first it was hard to find clients. The lack of work gave me time to explore new ideas and techniques, which resulted in a small but effective portfolio of seven images. One of these images came about almost by accident. I was organizing screws, paper clips and other odds and ends. As I began sorting, I liked the way the objects looked spread out on my light box. After hours of careful arranging, I took a picture. This photograph of odds and ends was the spark that helped inspire the first I Spy book!

The "odds and ends" photograph caught the eye of Jean Marzollo, the editor of Let's Find Out, a kindergarten magazine published by Scholastic Inc. They asked me to photograph colourful fasteners for a poster. This poster caught the eye of editors in the Scholastic book division. In 1991, Jean Marzollo and I collabourated on I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles.

As the I Spy series has grown, I've had opportunities to visit schools and see firsthand how kids respond to my work. It occurred to me that subjects that have long fascinated me — science and visual perception — are of interest to kids, too. That led to the creation of two books of my own: A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder; and Walter Wick's Optical Tricks. In all the years I've worked as a photographer, I've never had a more appreciative audience than children. I suspect I'll be doing children's books for a long time to come.

Click to take a closer look at
Walter Wick's Optical Tricks