William Giles earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in 1956, then did graduate work at Rochester Institute of Technology, New York (1958-1959). He took his Master of Fine Arts in 1962 from the University of Rochester.
A freelance photographer since 1973, William Giles built the Light Works Lab in Santa Cruz, California, in 1979. He directed the Neary Gallery in Santa Cruz in 1976, and from 1969 to 1973 was a freelance lecturer, teacher and exhibition organizer. In 1968 he was director of the Rochester Photographic Workshop and in 1963 was a curatorial exhibit assistant at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, United States.
William Giles established the first photographic teaching program at the University of Rochester in 1966. In addition to his photographic work, he has produced the video programs Transformations and Snapshots of the Mind (1979) and designed The Magic Gem, a children's book, for the Sri Rama Foundation in Santa Cruz (1976).