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Tim Walker: The Fashion Photographer Who Makes Magic

Tim Walker: The Fashion Photographer Who Makes Magic

Picture of Hannah Bergin
Updated: 12 December 2015
Despite being one of the world’s most eminent fashion photographers, whose work frequently sprawls the pages of Vogue and Love magazines, Tim Walker’s pictures are far from the stiff, studio-based shoots that one might associate with such publications. The 45-year-old Briton’s enchanting portfolio is instead unearthly and mysterious, capturing his subjects in ethereally beautiful nymph-like states, which results in images which look as if they could very well illustrate a Grimm brothers’ fairy-tale.

It’s strange – in fact completely contradictory, that Walker’s work as a fashion photographer is not about advertising clothes. But this is much the case and is very apparent in his surreal, Alice-in-Wonderland-like images. It is the eerie settings – whether a floating tea party in a shadowy forest or a ghostly, derelict doll’s house, along with a bizarre and fascinating array of props, that immediately captures the attention of the beholder. The clothes are merely a contributing feature, more like costumes for the characters in stories he is telling.

For that is what Walker is first and foremost – a story-teller. His often frustratingly elusive images offer only tantalising insights into the profound narrative and complex concept behind each of his shoots, which are left very much to the viewer’s interpretation. Despite often being loaded with familiar cultural references and literary allusions – a broken humpy-dumpy, an anthropomorphised rabbit, lions, swans and doll-like puppets for example – their connotations are never quite made clear and leave you utterly enthralled yet completely bewildered and sometimes even a little frightened.

Walker was born in England in 1970. After graduating from Exeter College of Art with a degree in photography, he began working as a photographer’s assistant first in London, then New York. At the young age of 25, he staged his first shoot for Vogue with whom he continues to collaborate, along with almost every other renowned sartorial publication including W, I-D and Love for whom he has photographed Kate Moss, Lily Cole and Tilda Swinton to name just a few.

Walker has exhibited at the Design Museum, Somerset House and Bowes Museum, whilst some of his images are displayed in the permanent collections at the V&A and National Portrait Gallery.

His books include Pictures, Story Teller and The Granny Alphabet. The legendary Brit is now venturing into the realm of moving film too.

Whatever Tim Walker does next, he is sure to imbue with a touch of magic and copious amounts of beauty.

By Hannah Bergin