AWARDS JOURNEY – PHOTOGRAPHING EMMA STONE

March 15, 2024

emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch
oscars dispatch, 96th academy awards 2024, los angeles, hollywood authentic

Photographs and words by Greg Williams


Over awards season I’ve been lucky enough to be commissioned by Louis Vuitton to shoot Emma Stone before every major awards event – and then I’ve gone on to photograph her at The Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, BAFTAs and SAGs while covering the events. That journey culminated in her winning the Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards and I wanted to take a moment to revisit the pictures I’ve taken during that time…

emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch
emma stone, david beckham, carey mulligan, marcus mumford and bradley cooper, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
emma stone, poor things, golden globes, golden globe awards 2024, 81st golden globe awards
emma stone, sags 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch

When you’re commissioned to shoot for a fashion brand the first job is to take pictures where the clothes look their best. But I suppose what I’m additionally looking for is seeing the person behind the personality. So we have this lovely collection of pictures now, fashion photos and then seeing the human too. The Oscars were particularly special. I tend to photograph a number of actors before award shows and the last shoot of the day was Emma, right next to where the actual ceremony takes place. So after our shoot I got to walk to the red carpet as well as being side-of-stage when she came off with her Oscar, which was presented by an incredibly esteemed group of previous Best Actress Oscar winners. Then afterwards, before she went out to the parties, I went and took more photos in the hotel corridor and in the car. It’s nice to now look back on that body of work as a portfolio of pictures.

michelle yeoh, charlize theron, emma stone, jennifer lawrence, sally field, oscars 2024, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch
Jessica Lange, Michelle Yeoh, Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence and Sally Field

The first pictures were taken before the Golden Globes at the beginning of January. They’re quite a nice example of the difference between commissioned pictures and the pictures that I take slightly more for myself. The first picture was used by Louis Vuitton – I can make the product look good, but I’m also getting that glint behind the eye, that authenticity is still coming through the pictures. But then there’s another example of a photo that you can look at and completely understand why Louis Vuitton might not choose it to showcase their beautiful clothes. You can barely see the dress, it’s at an odd angle; but it’s a lovely, alive, fun, playful picture of Emma. It’s right up there with my favourites from award season. I love how first person it is and how the audience looking at that picture feels like they’re beaming with the same sunshine. We were in the penthouse of The Sunset Tower Hotel and there was a fire escape ladder going up to the roof. It was a lovely prop for me to encourage Emma onto. Also the net curtains, both backlit and front lit, work really nicely. 

emma stone, golden globe awards, 2024, greg williams, hollywood authentic
emma stone, golden globe awards, 2024, greg williams, hollywood authentic
emma stone, golden globe awards, 2024, greg williams, hollywood authentic

The next pictures were before the Critics’ Choice Awards. She was shielding her eyes because it was so bright. That wasn’t the picture that I had in mind – you try not to put your subjects in glaring light, but sometimes I quite like it because there’s something in those contrasts, the shapes and shadows. The pictures that the brand used were backlit. 

emma stone, critics choice awards, 2024, greg williams, hollywood authentic
emma stone, critics choice awards, 2024, greg williams, hollywood authentic

These shots before the BAFTAs are tons of fun, she was literally dancing in her room. In those situations, I very much encourage play, I try for it. My favourite quote, and one that we use in Hollywood Authentic Magazine, is Willy Wonka saying ‘A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men’. I try to bring a little nonsense to as many of my shoots as I possibly can. 

emma stone, idris elba, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
emma stone, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic

The shots taken for the SAGs show a natural beam, and you just sense Emma’s personality – that she’s a very down to earth, generous person. You just see that in those pictures.

emma stone, sag awards, 2024, greg williams, hollywood authentic

It all stepped up for the Oscars. This was shot for Louis Vuitton again and this is where the two jobs really collide. This shot is a fashion photo, but it’s not the expected one. We were going through these hotel back corridors to head to the red carpet and I happened on this closet where they keep all the towels and dressing gowns, and I loved all these hangers. It felt like a nod to ateliers and fashion.

emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch

Awards season is a marathon and it felt like Emma was coming to the end of the journey – regardless of whether she won – after many months running at this thing, it’s done. So there was definitely playfulness going in the lifts. What I was also doing was finding the shapes in the dress in a playful way that feels authentic to Emma. There was also a beautiful shot where Emma turned around, and she hit a piece of light just before she got to the red carpet. 

emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch

Then I left her to walk the carpet, and I ran inside to shoot the awards. That’s when I’ve got a completely different hat on – a change from capturing portraits to being an event photographer. These photos are taken incredibly quickly – often I get a shot in just one frame. Someone will walk past me and I’ll literally just ‘click’ one frame and it’s just that look back or that reaction that I get. Even though it’s event reportage I’m still trying to deliver the Greg Williams viewpoint; spontaneous, authentic, giving the audience the sense that they’re there. 

After Emma had won her award, she left the stage with these incredible past winners: Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron, Sally Field, Jessica Lange and Michelle Yeoh. She’s won an Oscar and she’s surrounded by absolute titans of her field. And it’s just a really special moment. You’re also not in any control of anything at that stage, you really are the observer. I can ask people to look in the camera, but actually the nicest pictures are when they’re all cuddling, crying, emotional and hanging on to each other – not worrying about, or thinking about the photo for a second. 

michelle yeoh, charlize theron, emma stone, jennifer lawrence, sally field, oscars 2024, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch
Jessica Lange, Michelle Yeoh, Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence and Sally Field
emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch
emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch
emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch

After the awards Emma changed into another Louis Vuitton look. And then I got these really joyful shots of her with her team, holding the Oscar and really having some fun posing with it. There’s a lovely shot of her sitting on the floor of the corridor and a beautiful one of her walking through, which is a perfect balance of what I want to achieve and what Louis Vuitton wanted.

emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch, oscars special, cover
emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch

So what you’re seeing here is a number of hats being worn over the season; the fashion photographer, the personality photographer, the portraitist and the reportage photographer. I switch very rapidly between those, sometimes in split seconds. I’ll be hiding behind the camera, getting something quite beautiful, and then I’ll peek over the camera and pull a silly face, and suddenly I’ll get a shot of laughter or a shot of joy. That’s part of the game of being a photographer, being able to wear these different hats. There’s this lovely sentiment; when you take a portrait it’s not a picture of the person, it’s capturing the relationship between the photographer and the subject. That’s what I’m doing a lot of the time, because I have established relationships and I come away with a set of pictures that feel distinctively mine.

emma stone, oscars 2024, poor things, hollywood authentic, greg williams, oscars dispatch


Photographs and words by Greg Williams

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