So recently in college we were given an assignment to write a short essay on an inspirational photographer from the past or present. I wrote mine on Tim Walker who is probably the most famous fashion photographer in the world. Unfortunately I couldn't find any photos big enough to show you guys but if you check out his website here you won't be disappointed!
So here's the essay, enjoy!
This essay is going to investigate into the life and musings of a particular fashion photographer. The photographer I have chosen to study is the infamous Tim Walker. Early in his life he didn’t get on well in school and never got good grades. When the time came to decide what he wanted to study in university he felt that the only option he had, was to do photography. A year prior to university he took part in work experience in London’s Conde Nast’s Library working on the Cecil Beaton archive. After graduating in 1994 he worked as an assistant to a freelance photographer in London. He then moved to New York to assist Richard Avedon. When he returned to England he mainly focused working on portrait and documentary photography, but at the age of 25 he shot his first fashion shoot for VOGUE and from there found his niche and excelled.
Walker began to develop his own style, one very different and innovative to others, which made him stand out. He is influenced by past photographers such as Edward Steichen, Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz. His inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, it can come from something very banal in the everyday life to an flamboyant circus show. All of Walkers photographs are very much about making the ordinary extraordinary and creating a story. He claims he chose to specialise in fashion photography because it is the only aspect where you can create a fantasy and play with it. He creates circumstances where one is brought into a whole new world, be it a fairy tale, a fantasy, a Victorian play or a creepy dream. He creates enlarged objects and animals and places them outside of their habitat. He is always pushing for new ideas and inventing new ways to express his works of art. His sets and characters are extravagant, theatrical, amazing, unreal, magical and eccentric. He only uses natural light, never uses a flash, he feels natural light helps create the unreal scenarios. His photographs are filled with beauty, mystery and fantastical environments, holding the ability to entrance anyone who looks at them. They hold strong, bold colour mixed with delicate natural light. His images conjure a sense of wonder and bring to mind a time when the world is a carefree and happy place. They evoke a sense of nostalgia, but it is nostalgia of something that has never happened, something that we have possibly read in a children’s book. We are made to feel as if we have been to these places, perhaps in our dreams. All of the worlds walker creates are physical, he doesn’t create them digitally, and he uses and creates real props to enhance the image further into the belief that it is coming from reality.
Walker’s relationship with fashion is purely based on the imaginative and sense of freedom side of it all. He has no interest in what is being showed on the runway. His relationship with models is that of the complete opposite. He chooses his models very carefully believing that the relationship between him and the model is very important. He feels that having a friendship between the photographer and model creates an easier environment to work in. The model has to be the main focal point and portray the mood of the photograph, and for that to be achieved they must immerse themselves in the world he has created. Walker’s main models he works with are Karen Elson, Lily Cole and Erin O’Connor. They have an unconventional appeal which fits right in with Walkers style. He works with top stylists Kate Phelan and Grace Coddington to compliment the production of his wonderland images. He believes in creating a fun environment to work in and for everyone involved to feel at ease, yet, having a complete understanding of what is to be achieved.
Walker, today, is still working, mostly for British and US Vogues, creating new ideas and concepts. He has introduced a new way of thinking into photography and how one sees the world. He is influencing the world with his individuality and style and new upcoming photographers such as Eli McFadden, Tomaas, Brooke Shaden and Zhang Zemotion Jingna. These young photographers have taken inspiration from Walker in the way he uses colour, light and his imagination in creating a set. He has created a legacy that will live on and always be remembered. He has work in The Victoria and Albert Museum and The National Portrait Gallery in London. He has also published several books; “Pictures”, “Lost Explorer Book”, “Stern Portfolio” and his most recent “Storyteller”. In 2008 he received the “Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator” from the British Fashion Council. In 2009 he received an Infinity Award from the International Centre of Photography in New York. Then in 2012 he was given an Honorary Fellowship from The Royal Photographic Society. He has established himself to be a world renowned fashion photographer and is in constant demand. One can never be bored looking at Walkers photographs; he brings a sense of playfulness and fun that is often missing in most fashion photography. Fashion is usually taken very serious yet Walker brings back the fun and releases it out into the world.