Michael G Wilson’s work on the James Bond franchise stretches back almost 50 years. Throughout his time as first
a screenwriter and then a producer he has always carried a camera to set, capturing candid shots that chart the history of the world’s longest-running film series.

He owns many cameras, although among his favourites are those by Leica, a brand loved by many professional photographers, including those who work on the Bond films. On the latest movie, No Time To Die, Wilson and the on-set photographers Greg Williams and Nicola Dove — and James Bond actor Daniel Craig himself — all kept their Leicas at the ready. A new exhibition showcases a selection of the images they caught.

Wilson has contributed eight photographs to the portfolio of 25 images and curated the exhibition, opening at the Leica Galleries in Frankfurt and London on 9 September. The exhibition also opens in Los Angeles, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Salzburg, Vienna, Tokyo and Osaka.

“I thought everyone who used a Leica regularly on set should be included in the exhibition,” Wilson says. “I gathered everyone’s pictures together and thought long and hard about the diversity we could bring to the portfolio.”

Shooting Bond: Inside Leica’s No Time To Die exhibition

10 DB5s in Matera, Italy, shot by Nicola Dove. NO TIME TO DIE © 2020 Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The images were shot in Matera, Italy, as well as at Pinewood Studios, the Ardverikie Estate in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park and at key locations in London and Jamaica. Alongside the images by Wilson are seven by Greg Williams, four by Nicola Dove and six by Daniel Craig.

“Daniel has a very particular eye and he certainly knows his crew,” says Wilson. “He’s managed to capture some really good behind-the-scenes elements. Greg Williams has worked with Bond for years and he knows how to get in there and get the picture that wins the awards. Nicola Dove is there all the time, watching all the time, and comes up with material for publicity, but also to document the film. She does it very well.” He laughs. “I just snap at anything that moves.”

Wilson and the Bond photographers shoot with many different kinds of cameras and formats, although all 25 shots featured in the exhibition are presented in black and white.

“Black and white is the traditional artist’s method and it’s a way to get really gripping views,” says Wilson. “Leica cameras are the best in the world for this format. Also, we have four people using different cameras and having different interpretations, so black and white helps provide unity and is wonderful looking.”

Shooting Bond: Inside Leica’s No Time To Die exhibition

Léa Seydoux, Matera press announcement, by Michael G Wilson.

Wilson’s appetite for photography extends beyond the James Bond films. He has been a keen collector for decades, inspired in part by renowned curator Weston Naef. “We went to college together and met up in New York when he was the curator at the Metropolitan Museum, before he became head of photography at the Getty Museum,” Wilson says. “We’ve been life-long friends and I even managed to persuade his daughter, Ella Naef, to come and work for me. She made all the prints for the exhibitions and portfolios at the Wilson Centre.”

His collection expanded throughout the 1970s and 1980s until, in 1998, he opened the Wilson Centre of Photography in London, a private archive and collection for research on the history, aesthetics and preservation of photographs. The collection includes comprehensive holdings of 19th-century photographs and albums with a strong representation of major 20th-century and contemporary practitioners.

Shooting Bond: Inside Leica’s No Time To Die exhibition

Daniel Craig, Pinewood Studios, shot by Greg Williams.

In 2010, Wilson was presented with The Royal Photographic Society’s award for Outstanding Service to Photography, which carries with it an Honorary Fellowship of the Society. “I’ve always got something going, for personal enjoyment, with photography,” he says. “I like to help photographers out. Sometimes I print their portfolios, helping them publish their work.

“We are certainly pleased with the Leica exhibition. All four photographers have a different style, but with Leica the portfolio speaks with one voice. I hope people enjoy what we’ve done.”

This story is an extract from an article featured in the AM49 issue of Aston Martin magazine, out now. If you're not already a subscriber, visit magazine.astonmartin.com/magazine-subscription so that you can read the full story. 

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