William Frej, an award-winning photographer, began his career as an architect and later served as an international development specialist as a career diplomat in the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with the Agency for International Development, living in Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan and traveling extensively in Nepal, Pakistan and Central Asia and, most recently, Mexico. Always with his camera at his side, he has been photographing Indigenous people and their environments since the 1970s, documenting the changing lifestyles and architecture of many of the world’s most unique and ancient cultures. He has spent considerable time since 2015 photographing both the religious rites of Mexico’s Indigenous communities and the contemporary Maya, and the ancient cities their forebearers so skillfully created over a millennium ago.

Mr. Frej’s 2020 project, a fine art photography book on Maya ruins and an early Maya explorer and photographer, Teobert Maler, Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler, (Peyton Wright Gallery, Publisher/University of Oklahoma Press, Distributor) was released in October 2020. This book has been the recipient of fourteen major awards, including Best Photography Book of 2021 from the Independent Press Award, the International Book Awards, the Foreward Indies Award and the National Indie Excellence Awards; and Silver Medals from the Prix de la Photographie Paris, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, IPPY Independent Publishers Award, and the Moscow International Foto Awards. His second book, Seasons of Ceremonies: Rites and Rituals of Guatemala and Mexico, was published by the Museum of New Mexico Press in October 2021, and is the recipient of thirteen major awards, including four Photography Book of the Year awards. His latest book, with Anne Frej, Travels Across the Roof of the World: A Himalayan Memoir was published by George F. Thompson Press in October 2022. It has won 14 major awards include the Silver Medal for Travel Books, Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. His latest book is Blurred Boundaries: Perspectives on Rock Art of the Greater Southwest published by Museum of New Mexico Press.

Mr. Frej’s work has been shown at a variety of venues. He is represented by Peyton Wright Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he has had seven one-man exhibitions. His work has also been shown at Peters Projects/Gerald Peters Contemporary and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2014 his one-person photographic exhibition Enduring Cultures was featured at Galeria La Eskalera in Merida, Mexico as part of a citywide arts festival. Additional one-man exhibitions include Nomads of Kyrgyzstan in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2008, Himalayan Pilgrimage at the Museum of Asia and Pacific in Warsaw, Poland in 1998, and Tanimbar to Tibet at the Duta Fine Arts Museum and Gallery in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1991. He has participated in exhibitions The Eye Gallery in San Francisco in 1987, the San Francisco Arts Festival in 1976 and 1977, and the Tucson Arts Center in 1972. His photographs of Peru received purchase awards from the San Francisco Arts Commission in the 1970s.

Mr. Frej’s photographic work is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, including Yale’s Special Collections at the Beinecke Rare Book Library; the Green Library at Stanford University; the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley; the Zimmerman Library’s Special Collections at the University of New Mexico; the Hesburgh Library at Notre Dame University; the Rubenstein Rare Book Library at Duke University; the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University; the Special Collections Library at the University of California Santa Barbara; the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, DC; the San Francisco Arts Commission; and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His photographs of the Himalaya, India, and Africa are featured in Sacred Mountains of the World by Edwin Bernbaum (Cambridge University Press, 2022 ).


Asia and Pacific Museum, Warsaw, Poland
Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley
Beinecke Rare Book Library Special Collections, Yale University
DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
Des Moines Museum of Art
Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Washington DC
Green Library, Stanford University
Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame University
Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rubenstein Rare Book Library, Duke University
San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco, California
Special Collections Library, University of California, Santa Barbara
Zimmerman Library’s Special Collections, University of New Mexico


The Maya – June 2016
Ancient Kingdoms, Hidden Realms – August 2017
Sacred Sites and Ceremonies – August 2018
Rituals of the Cora – August 2019
Maya Ruins Revisited – October 2020
Seasons of Ceremonies – November 2021
Travels Across the Roof of the World – October 2022
Rock Art of the Greater Southwest – December 2023

Copyright: All contents of this site are ©William Frej and no part of this site may be reproduced without the written permission of William Frej.