There has long existed a debate in regards to the reasons behind fashion photography. Do photographers pick up their Hasselblads solely under the direction of Devil Wears Prada-esque editors, and do models pose nonchalantly just to put the seemingly un-wearable catwalk designs to use? Or perhaps it is just to do with amusement, allowing some to turn a hobby into a career.
Justifications for the art, if you will allow me to refer to it as such, stretches back to the days of the invention of the camera. In fact, fashion photography is a medium which everyone, whether consciously or not, appreciates. From Burberry’s latest campaign featuring the adorable Roo Panes to the well-loved Dior Cherie advert in which an innocent Natalie Portman poses in her most natural form – any advert one comes across related to the fashion world counts as fashion photography. And just like celebrated artists and musicians, there are famous fashion photographers known for their skills and expertise, or in Tim Walker’s case, their ability to create another world.
Tim Walker’s photography is the type that leaves one speechless, perhaps the natural result of having been thrown into a fairy tale, except that at his latest exhibition, one awakes from the dream to discover a reality. Somerset House’s East Wing has been morphed into a mystical playground of childish tales, in which the extravagant props used by the photographer are displayed alongside his photographs. From life-sized spitfires and swan boats to giant dolls and skeletons, the home of London Fashion Week is showcasing the magician of fashion photography itself.
Accompanied by ethereal jewellery box music and the tapping of visitor’s heels against the exhibition’s wooden floors, Tim Walker whisks you away to the velvet walled room in which you too can peer out of its windows and witness the staggering beauty commonly drowned out by the grey gloom of everyday life. It is a view so full of vivid colour and naïve imagination, of giant bees playing cellos and humongous snails lounging on beds that leaving the exhibition inspired is beyond choice.
And for those who crave more, the exhibition’s accompanying book Tim Walker: Story Teller is the perfect antidote. But who need drugs in Walker’s world, where flying saucers, race hounds and picnic tables float effortlessly in glowing forests? The pages of this book present snapshots from within an incredible mind; pages of Walker’s scrap-book and quotes spiralling out of control. Walker endows upon us a sugar-coated view of the reality of adulthood in a chaotic mix of pictures and emotions, with one lesson for us all: “the lightness of spirit allows the imagination to soar cloud high”.
Tim Walker Story Teller published by Thames & Hudson is now available for £45. The exhibition is now on show at London’s Somerset House sup- ported by Mulberry. Free admission, 18/10/2012 – 27/01/2013 Admission: Free