As a pre-teen, William Duke stumbled across a trick photography book in his junior high school's library. The book had a number of exercises for budding trick photographers. One by one, Duke worked through the exercises with his Kodak Pocket Instamatic 110 camera and his love of trompe l'oeil was born. Duke moved on to staging skateboard wipeouts and bike jumps for the camera. Eventually his lack of funds for film drove him to become the photo editor for the daily campus newspaper at the University of California in Santa Barbara. There he obtained the holy grail to all young photographers; Free film and a key to the darkroom. After receiving a BA in psychology from UCSB, Duke earned a BFA in photography from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. The dream of national exposure in magazines drove Duke to New York City where he shot fashion and portraiture. In the late 80's, his conceptual work attracted the attention of magazine art directors.
Duke's hand printed black & white photomontages began getting recognition in Esquire, Interview, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. In the early 1990's, Duke began using image manipulation software. He was able to add color and develop a look that went beyond the confines of the darkroom. Duke lives with his wife in Sonoma County, California.