His essential art emerged in his ability to function not just as an adjunct to the production, but to create a special documentation of the course of each film. In doing so he captured with wonderful perception the actors and directors on and off the set, in moments of repose and high drama. He provided the great magazines like LOOK and LIFE with a new link to the very essence of Hollywood filmmaking.
While Willoughby is most famous as the great chronicler of Hollywood, before he began covering film production, he had already made an astonishing series of portraits of jazz musicians. Willoughby had a masterful feel for the character of his sitters, and was able to convey it even in the low lighting conditions of recording studios or when they were performing on stage.
Willoughby was recently honored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science in Hollywood, with a major retrospective exhibition of his work. His work is in the permanent collection of: The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., The National Portrait Gallery, London, The National Museum of Photography, Bradford, UK, The Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, The Museum of Modern Art, Film Department, New York, and La Musee de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium. Bob Willoughby now lives in the south of France with his lovely wife Dorothy.