Lohmann: Leaving (running-shoe) footprints and taking footage, the story of a book about James River Park | Richmond Native Information
“I love James River Park,” said Draper. “I grew up in Stratford Hills near Riverside Drive. I swam in the river, canoeed in the river, and fished in the river. I just grew up on the James River.
“It was a love job to take pictures. I didn’t start making a book. I just took pictures and it kind of kept evolving. Someone said “You should do a book” and I thought, well, OK, I’ll try. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, ”he said with a laugh.
“If I run in the park and take pictures, I could be a thousand miles away, out in the woods,” he said. “It’s just amazing that you can be in town and feel away from it all.”
When he started thinking about a book, Draper was still living in Short Pump and was driving into town to run through the park. Last year, he and his wife, Deedee, bought a townhouse in Oregon Hill with a beautiful view of the James.
“I wake up in the morning and I lift my head and I can look out the double glass doors and see the river,” he said. “We just love it here.”
Draper studied photography at Western Kentucky University and was an intern as a student staff photographer at the university. He and Deedee got married during their studies – both will be 70 years old and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year – – and started a family. When Bill graduated in 1975, he was unable to find a job in photography that would pay the bills, so he went into medical sales and eventually went into business for himself. He retired in 2016.