Tim Walker rose to prominence in the mid-1990s with his highly imaginative and fantastical photographs inspired by his love of fairy tales and a thirst for adventure. Since then, his exuberant fashion pictures and inimitable portraits have graced the pages of magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, LOVE, Another Man and i-D. He has published seven books and staged solo exhibitions at major museums. His short films and projects with musicians have won international acclaim.
Walker was born in England in 1970 and began taking pictures as a young boy. A year working in the Cecil Beaton archive at the Condé Nast Library in London inspired him to study photography at Exeter College of Art. After his degree, he continued to hone his craft as photographic assistant to Richard Avedon in New York. Walker shot his first story for British Vogue aged only 25 and began to build creative relationships which endure to this day.
He became known for his lavish tableaux and ambitious narrative-driven shoots on location around the world. A champion of new talent and unconventional beauty, he enjoys longstanding collaborations with models and performers including Edie Campbell, Karen Elson, Kate Moss, and Tilda Swinton. After working for many years with extraordinary sets and props, he challenged himself to create portraits in a simple white space. Every portrait involves meticulous preparation: Walker carefully researches the motives and passions of the sitter in order to capture their essence in a single image.
In 2010 his first short film, The Lost Explorer, premiered at Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland and later won Best Short Film at the Chicago United Film Festival. Five other films followed; most recently a ballet based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Steadfast Tin Soldier. Walker regularly collaborates with performers and musicians, creating the official video for Blissing Me from Björk's album Utopia (2017), and shooting the album art for Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut (2011) and Harry Styles’ Fine Line (2019).
In recent years Walker has explored the subject of the nude, fusing contemporary and historic motifs in reference to the art historical canon. In 2015, he received a commission to create an ambitious new series of pictures for The Nicola Erni Collection, Switzerland. Taking inspiration from The Garden of Earthly Delights by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516), Walker’s photographs evoke the darkly surreal and sensuous mood of Bosch’s original work. The images were printed on vast, gesso-coated canvasses and exhibited at Noordbrabants Museum in the city of s’Hertogenbosch, Bosch’s birthplace, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) invited Walker to produce an extensive body of work inspired by its eclectic collection. The resulting exhibition, Tim Walker: Wonderful Things (2019-2020), was seen by almost 200,000 visitors and is touring museums around the world until 2022. His previous exhibitions include the retrospectives Tim Walker: Pictures at the Design Museum (2008) and Storyteller at Somerset House (2012-2013). Walker’s photographic prints are housed in private collections and in public institutions including the V&A and London’s National Portrait Gallery.