Bob Willoughby was the first photographer to capture Hollywood in a documentary style. From James Dean to Audrey Hepburn, he had access to the best stars of his day while working for Warner Brothers in the early 1950s. Bob depicted the historical era of filmmaking in his photographs. He captured many of the world’s most acclaimed actors and directors at their most vulnerable and unguarded moments, on and off stage. With his distinctive style, he captured the essence of each film. Bob knew exactly what each publication needed regarding editorial content and design layout regardless of the number of magazines he worked for.
He is also credited with many technical innovations, including the silent blimp popularized for 35mm still photography on film sets. At the time, he was the only film photographer working with radio-controlled cameras, which enabled him to capture photographs in otherwise impossible situations. He had specially built brackets to hold still cameras on and over Panavision cameras.
Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Willoughby by exhibiting his work in a major retrospective. In 2004, he was awarded the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Still Photography in New York. His photographs are in the permanent collection of Washington, D.C.’s National Portrait Gallery.
Below are some stunning behind-the-scenes photos of the movies from the 1950s and 1960s by Bob Willoughby.