Anthony Joshua by Greg Williams
From Brad Pitt to Beyoncé, Matt Damon to Lady Gaga, British photographer Greg Williams has captured many of today’s A-listers. So many in fact that he finds it difficult to think of big-name stars of film and music he has yet to photograph and would still like to.
“It sounds weird but I’ve shot most people,” he says, pausing to give the question some consideration. “I haven’t properly shot Al Pacino yet, like, proper time with him. I’ve shot him and met him a few times. I’d also like to do a proper photo session with Tom Hanks.”
Williams grew up in south east London and, after a stint as a photojournalist covering conflict zones – “I gave that up because I got scared to bits” – he starting documenting the British film industry and later Hollywood. He has photographed at the Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes, and regularly contributes to British Vogue and Vanity Fair. He photographed the British Vogue 2023 Hollywood Portfolio.
For 20 years he has also been an official James Bond photographer, starting with Pierce Brosnan’s final film and continuing right through the Daniel Craig era.
While some photographers capture celebrities from behind a cordon, from a distance, Williams has gained incredible access, often working behind the scenes or spending time with his subjects, from Joaquin Phoenix to Ana de Armas. This has allowed him to capture more spontaneous, unguarded and ‘authentic’ images of the “person behind the personality”.
Eva Green for Casino Royale, Lake Como, Italy, 2006, by Greg Williams
Williams prides himself on working creatively and quickly, seizing the opportunity when it’s there. “Eva had finished a day filming on Lake Como,” he says about this image of the actor, taken near one of the locations for Bond film Casino Royale. “She was heading back to her hotel. I literally just said “Can I jump in and take some pictures on the way?”, which I did.
“It’s a very joyful picture. She’s so beautiful, but you also just feel like you’re seeing right into her in this picture. There’s a real sense of joy that comes through. It has this added element. There’s a slit of her skirt that gives the picture something else and made it work even more and feel even more intimate.”
Another ‘moment’ happened while working on a short film with British boxer Anthony Joshua. “I wasn’t there to take photos,” Williams says. “I was doing a music video [for GQ’s annual Men of the Year event] so I only took about 10 pictures that day. We were using a Steadicam, walking around the streets near his gym.
“I’d filmed him voicing over a song that lots of different talent were singing on. I got him to do some shadowboxing. I thought, ‘That’s a great picture’. I was just walking backwards with him walking towards me. I like it for its dynamism. You’ve got the vanishing points of the street going away from you, and then him coming towards you with the punch. It’s a very simple picture. It just worked.”
Greg Williams selects his ‘best shots’ in the March/April 2023 issue of the RPS Journal.
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