Bill Rouda was born in Anderson, South Carolina, 19 October, 1948. He began making documentary photographs in the mid-1970s. After Bill finished a degree in finance and economics at the University of South Carolina he was motivated to "do something, to know more" before entering the work-a-day world of business. He planned a trip to Europe that was destined to change his life. This adventure was planned to last two months. It lasted for two years.
As one who is on the road is lead by many chance encounters, he found new friends and experiences everywhere. He began shooting. Intrigued by what he saw, inspired, but lacking formal training and experience in photography, Bill returned home to attend Colorado Mountain College extension in Aspen. He studied photojournalism and worked as a ski photographer at Snowmass. From there it was off to New York City where he spent the next five years learning photography as an apprentice and free lance photographer’s assistant and attended The New York School of Visual Arts. It was during those years, while studying the works of Herni Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Frank and Dorthea Lange, that Bill found his greatest inspiration.
In 1984 he returned to his native south and opened a commercial studio, which paid the bills, while continuing his personal work. His first one-man exhibit, Observations on the Reality of the Human Experience came along in 1991 with help from a grant from The South Carolina Arts Commission. After nine years of commercial work he became dissatisfied with the direction of his career and life and in 1993 closed his studio, moved to Nashville TN and pursued full-time his true passion: documentary art and photo essay. He turned 55 in October of 2003. Two months later his first book, Nashville’s Lower Broad: The Street that Music Made went to press at Smithsonian Books.
Today he lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife, Dianne and continues his personal work as well as commercial assignments that fit his personal style. He also teaches photography part-time at Southwestern Community College.