“Moto” images 

Greg Williams start­ed his career as a pho­to­jour­nal­ist work­ing in the world’s trou­ble spots such as Bur­ma, Chech­nya and Sier­ra Leone. Lat­er, when he realised that work­ing in war zones might get him killed he began shoot­ing pho­to-essays, doc­u­ment­ing social issues for mag­a­zines such as The Sun­day Times Mag­a­zine and Time. He now says pho­to­jour­nal­ism still informs what he does, whether he’s shoot­ing on set or in the stu­dio. In 1997 Williams’ career took a new direc­tion when he per­suad­ed the Sun­day Times Mag­a­zine to let him shoot a pho­to-essay on the great British film revival. Over the next three years, and after vis­it­ing the sets of over 80 films, the project evolved into his first book, Greg Williams On Set. More on-set work fol­lowed, and now Williams is well estab­lished as an on-set ‘spe­cial pho­tog­ra­ph­er’ as well as a celebri­ty por­traitist. He has shot por­traits of stars such as Cather­ine Zeta Jones, Brad Pitt, Daniel Craig, Col­in Far­rell, Cate Blanchett and John Tra­vol­ta for mag­a­zines includ­ing Van­i­ty Fair, Pre­miere, Esquire and Ital­ian Vogue. ‘In my por­traits I now use the same light­ing found on film sets, and recre­ate com­po­si­tions from my reportage. I also encour­age actors to per­form rather than just pose. In that way the por­traits and reportage have start­ed to con­verge as one style.’ Williams says. Williams has also shot posters for some of the world’s biggest movies includ­ing Casi­no Royale and Quan­tum of Solace. He tries to avoid dig­i­tal trick­ery, pre­fer­ring to shoot against real back­grounds and use in cam­era spe­cial effects than add these ele­ments in post. ‘I like the pho­tos to retain a real­is­tic look where the brief allows,’ he says. His back­ground in pho­to­jour­nal­ism also influ­ences his light­ing style and he prefers to use nat­ur­al light if pos­si­ble, adding lights only when he needs to build and shape his sub­jects. Shoot­ing on big movie sets has led to big fash­ion and adver­tis­ing assign­ments such as Dun­hill, Tom­my Hil­figer and Lacoste, where he uses large crews. ‘You need to have good peo­ple and you need to pre­pare. A big shoot takes days of prepa­ra­tion and it’s not unusu­al to have 60 peo­ple on a set by the time you have clients, pub­li­cists, agents, styl­ists, hair and make-up artists, props, spe­cial effects and all their assis­tants. It’s huge and the pres­sure would be ter­ri­fy­ing if you had a minute to think about it, but luck­i­ly you don’t.’
Megan Fox “moto” cov­er for Esquire mag­a­zine Nev­er one to stand still and always want­i­ng to push the enve­lope, Greg Williams is embrac­ing the still/movie con­ver­gence with a for­mat he dubs the “moto”. Film­ing a sub­ject in a sta­t­ic pose and then get­ting them to move. He has already done this for the last Bond film, Quan­tum of Solace, where he brought Daniel Craig to life on an elec­tron­ic poster using a RED cam­era and recent­ly the first ever mov­ing cov­er mag­a­zine for Esquire, espe­cial­ly for the iPad. We all know you can’t pull stills from video, but Williams says, with the RED’s high res­o­lu­tion RAW footage, you can use stills from it as dou­ble-page spreads. He also says his moto images are set up like stills so there’s no real dif­fer­ence. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he was the first pho­tog­ra­ph­er to use the cam­era this way, shoot­ing a sto­ry for Ital­ian Vogue. He’s now exper­i­ment­ing with the Epic cam­era (a pro­to­type was used to shoot sev­er­al shots in his short below), the lat­est offer­ing from RED, which deliv­ers a whop­ping 5K, yes that’s 5000x5000 pix­el images, and which Williams got involved with dur­ing its devel­op­ment. What next for this tal­ent­ed pho­tog­ra­ph­er who is always look­ing for new chal­lenges? Well, he says, his ambi­tion now is to make a full length fea­ture film. Take a look at this nar­ra­tive short he shot and ask your­self, has he got what it takes?
‘Tell-Tale’ a short film by Greg Williams