The Portraiture of Peter Williams

It’s always great to stumble upon a photographer who is earning a living shooting what he or she loves. What follows is a narrative by Peter Williams explaining in his own words his approach to portraiture and how he works with light. We also present a few samples of the portraiture of Peter Williams.

Eleanor Gecks ©Peter Williams

I’m a portrait photographer based in London and Brighton in the United Kingdom. I shoot all my portraits with a different array of formats, from digital 35mm, digital medium format, to 35mm and 120mm film cameras. I shoot in manual and use a 50mm prime lense, and always use a light meter every time to get the correct exposure I want for my portraits.

How I see the image through my eyes, and how the light lays on the subject and the overall scene, I feel my Sekonic L-758D DigitalMaster can capture what I see there and then.

It’s the other reason why I only ever use a 50mm prime lense to shoot all my portraits, just because it’s equivalent to what my eye see’s at 50mm.

I feel the light metre can give you the best results for exposure to give you flattering and appealing images to look at. The best way to use a light meter is to understand light well. Understand its characteristics, how it lays and plays with it’s surroundings. When you can understand that, it’s like taking candy from a baby.

Sky Bliss ©Peter Williams

I spend a lot of time watching films and general people watching, and watching how light is laying on them, and how it’s laying in the environment I’m in at that particular time. The films I felt which taught me a lot to do with light and understanding it strengths and weakness are Bladerunner and a lot of Korean, Chinese and Japanese films.

I just feel these countries execute films beautifully specially the way the scenes are lit, like in 2046, Old Boy, House of the Flying Daggers, Duelist and Chaser. They have had the biggest effect on me as a film lover and a photographer. To me, it just feels these filmmakers have all the answers to execute pure gold.

I would also say that I’m a huge fan and a great admirer of Helmut Newton’s work and his life, and I feel a lot of his vision, attitude, his world, is slowly influencing me and making me a better photographer. I thank Helmut Newton for that.

Tony Van Silva ©Peter Williams

When I shoot digital I always shoot in RAW, only ever click on sharpen tab in post production, and when I shoot 35mm or 120mm film, I never Photoshop, I just scan in my negatives and that’s it.

You can see more of Peter Williams’ work at his site, or follow him on Twitter. 


All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Peter Williams, all rights reserved; story is ©Sekonic. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or re-post elsewhere without written permission.

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Posted in portrait photography.