Choosing photography as a professional career is never easy but it is rewarding. We have been lucky enough to talk to London-based professional photographer William Green and this short interview is nothing less of educational and inspiring. His approach to photography is like that of a scholar who's devoted to learning and improvement. William's photographs are a result of years of practice and dedication and what adds to the beauty of his work is his outlook — humble and confident at the same time. This is an artist that values the process as much as the result. That in itself is another thing of beauty entirely.
Hi, William! Welcome to the Lomography Magazine. What do you do and what got you started on shooting with film?
Hi there, I’m a professional photographer living in London. I shoot a mixture of moving image, commissions, personal work, and longer form creative projects. I have shot on film ever since I was a teenager and first got into photography as a way to document things that I then wanted to draw. Although now I shoot a mixture of both film and digital and don’t ever see that stopping. I love the alchemy that film gives you as well as testing your skills to the limit, there are no second chances and it doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
How would you define photography? What's your favorite thing about it?
I find photography very hard to define in 2019, more and more so as things move forward, new techniques and approaches develop. That is something that makes me smile a lot, for me I want it to be more than just representation or documenting something. For me, I enjoy trying to convey what is not there and so don’t always want to just show what the eye sees, although I like that sometimes too. I look forward to photography developing more in that way. Just as traditional painting based art is a broad church exposing many styles and mediums, so I have thought for a long time than photography should be too. If painting can be Jan van Eyck, Edward Hopper or Jenny Saville then photography for me can be Vivan Mailer, Mapplethorpe or Thomas Ruff and a lot-lot more.
Why do you make images? What inspires you to create?
That is the $64 dollar question… I guess like most people, I’m trying to tell stories either those from my imagination or stories that I find out about that I feel people should know more about.
You have such a clean approach to photography. Whether it's portraits, stills, or landscape shots. Was this a style you were going for?
Probably not originally, although looking back on things, it is not something that has surprised me based on the artists I liked and the interests I have. It is something I have only thought about relatively recently but I grew up being interested in artists and films and not photography. I religiously consumed films, for whatever reason I just didn’t look at photography apart from as historical documentation. So those things that I was infatuated by a teenager was the work of people like Peter Greenaway, David Hockney or Ed Ruscha among others, they have all fed into the style of work I produce today.
We love the way you inject color and mood into your images. How important are both elements in your work?
For me, they are nearly everything, if I could add light to that mix and I would say they’re the three the most important things. Color, light, and mood elevate everything that you’re shooting, what else is needed.
Among your many (stunning) photo projects, which is your favorite? Please tell us the story behind it.
Firstly, thanks for that. I’m rather partial to my project on sleeping Tokyo taxi drivers. It came about as I was in the outer suburbs of Tokyo, where I had gone to shoot a project that I had prepared for with background research and even though I had the permission of where I had been intending to shoot, I was asked to leave. So somewhat dejectedly, I was taking a rather long route back into central Tokyo to where I was staying. Whilst walking between subway stations, I chanced upon a street or near identical cars parked on both sides of the street. A road was full of near identical Toyota Comforts, which has long been the car of choice for the taxi market in Japan. Taxis in Japan are something you get used to very quickly when standing on any street corner in one of the larger Japanese cities (day or night.) It won’t be long before you see a taxi drive past but this wasn’t a taxi rank. Instead, there was a leafy street filled with taxis on both sides and more to driving past looking for somewhere to stop and sleep. Some were slumped over the front wheel, others laid out on the back seat, with and without their faces covered. I then set myself the task of shooting everyone but trying to vary the composition and also convey something of the emotion of each individual even those you couldn’t see anyone's eyes.
For you, what matters more — talent or skill?
I think both are one and the same, with repeated practice, your talents and skill grow and your unique style develops.
Any new projects you're currently working on? Please, share them with our readers.
I tend to keep new projects that I am working on under wraps, I am never sure if it is superstition that causes this. I am actually working on a short documentary film at the moment very close to home, based on a group of people in London. There is a stills strand to it that I want to shoot using the Daguerreotype Achromat lens as I think it will be perfect for telling the story.
What does a perfect day look like for William Green?
A long sleep, waking up before dawn. Shooting in lovely blue hour then golden light, once you have had a few hours and some great shots in the bag. Then breakfast and more sleep. Once waking for the second time you then have the whole day ahead of you...
Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring photographers out there?
Shoot what you love and love what you shoot.
We would like to express our gratitude to William for letting us feature his images on the Magazine. More of his photographic work can be found in his website.