Tim Walker said it best, "Everything is contrived from the start. Nothing is R E A L. So what you are trying to do in this fake world is to make a real moment happen by installing genuineness into the artifice."
Tim Walker's fairy tale world is not really showing us fashion but taking us to fantasy places created by his imagination as a personal form of magic with more than a hint of decadence. I have admired Walker's work for years now even before I knew who he was or his significance in the fashion world. I had the image below from Vogue pasted on my walls for years in middle school, moving it from one room to another as I moved until I finally accidentally ripped it to a point of no return. There was something that really captivated me about it; the lighting, the composition, the model's position, the dress hanging from the curtains, suit hung on a chair and top hat so casually tossed aside with a sun-flare coming from somewhere surreal. The narrative and enigma of this photo is how I define Tim Walker's work and what inspires a great deal of my own.
Walker uses extravagant settings and soft lighting to create these borderline kitsch photos. They are all very magical and dreamlike with immense sets that him and a team build for each shoot. For example in several of his shoots his team built a doll that was 10 feet tall and created bees and insects that are as large as a full grown adult.
“The way I work I have to have a mood in my head, I have to have a feeling for something….What is the mood? There’s a sense of something, you can kind of smell you get it and then you put all of the ingredients together and it might be a reference of a picture…..in the end you are trying to create this mood and exist in it.”
As he is creating these themed sets Walker was asked in an interview, “I read a quote where you said that there was a fine line between the beautiful strange-ness that you’re trying to achieve in your pictures and them acting from the model. How do you achieve that?"
"I find that is such a line that I’m always walking on…..you’re playing with motifs that are so parallel close to being bad and as your walking on that edge and trying to bring them back to being beautiful and real….I think the photographs that I take are so in danger of being kitsch and gimmicky but that’s something I’m so aware of and scared of and always going back in to try and create.”
In another interview with Nowness.com he was asked, “Your work often involves creating huge sets and a cast of models. Is it about setting up everything and then being open to chance?’
"Absolutely. It’s fundamental to what I do. A lot of gestures and expressions happen when the models experience something during a shoot—the wind blowing through the set or something falling over, for example. They need something to react to. A 'mistake' can liberate a photograph and prevent it from looking over-choreographed.”
I think this happens with any sort of shoot done on location and working with a team of people. You can never plan everything and being able to work on the spot while understanding what you’re going for in terms of a mood or aesthetic will help make your final result so much stronger no matter what conditions present themselves. Tim Walker is someone that makes me push that idea so much further and I hope provided some inspiration for you all today. As you know by now I like to share the things and people that inspire me because it all eventually gets incorporated in the way that I express myself through clothing and photography.
|All photos property of Tim Walker|