Fashion Photographer Michael Williams Knows His Way to the Top - page 2

By Jessamyn Cuneo on July 31, 2006

Jude Law, pictures, picture, photos, photo, pics, pic, images, imageHaving conquered the Canadian photography world so quickly, Williams hungered to extend his talents all over the world. Experts in the field told him that if he wanted to be serious about fashion photography, he'd have to move to either Paris or New York. Williams opted for what sounded most glamorous to him—Paris.

"I think if you're ever serious about becoming a real fashion photographer, you have to live in Paris," Williams says, "or at least spend a good chunk of time there. Otherwise, you're not really a fashion photographer. The whole European take on fashion is so much more sophisticated and developed than even American. I mean, America's come a long way since MTV—I think MTV is what really revolutionized fashion in this country."

He goes on to explain this statement. "[MTV] brought everybody together and gave people a visual outlet. Back then, remember, it was only music videos—that's all they played. So, people who had never seen people dressed a certain way, suddenly had access to it; [fashion] suddenly became a part of their lives. Whereas in Europe, fashion has always been a part of people's lives. It's a different kind of fashion sense. It's less based on youth culture in France…but it still is kinda cool and interesting, you know?"

France proved to be the right choice for Williams. He found success quickly.

"I moved there with $350, and about seven years later, I had about a thousand times that in my bank account," Williams says. "I never would have thought that was going to happen."

His stay in Paris had several surprising footnotes. At one point during his time in France, Williams came close to quitting photography to focus completely on his side project—a band in which he wrote songs and played lead guitar. He also went to Paris unable to speak any French, and left fluent inEdward Norton, pictures, picture, photos, photo, pics, pic, images, image the language.

"Paris is a fun place to live," Williams says, "but it's got a heavy negative energy to it. When you're twenty years old, running around, taking pictures and having a great time, you don't really notice it, you don't really care. I wouldn't want to live there again, but I'm very comfortable there, and it's a nice place to visit."

Williams finds New York to be more exciting, but also more competitive in terms of his career. He made less money for the first couple of years during the transition from Paris to New York. He'd lost many big European clients due to moving away, and didn't have many American clients, but he didn't let this discourage him.

"New York is such a fun place to hang out," Williams says. "There's so many interesting scenes, that I didn't really notice I was going through hard times."

Gradually, he built an American-based list of clients. Williams has always been picky about who he works for, but recently his standards have changed.