Exclusive: First Look at Tim Walker’s Over-the-Top New Book, Story Teller

Photo: Tim Walker: Story Teller, Introduction by Robin Muir, foreword by Kate Bush © Abrams Books, 2012

Renowned fashion photographer Tim Walker just released his latest retrospective, Story Teller, spanning 254 glossy pages of his recent work — an enticing mix of editorial shoots and studio portraiture dating back to 2007. In one shot, Karlie Kloss stumbles on a loosely paved yellow brick road; in another, Vivienne Westwood’s lost in the scent of freshly cut roses. And in perhaps the most iconic shot of the collection, there’s Alexander McQueen posing with a smoking skull, one of the last photos of the designer taken before his death in 2010. Alongside the images and their whimsical narratives, Walker explains his work using sprawling, introspective pull quotes and captions. It’s a strange take on his autobiography — as if he’s happily nattering away in the background while you’re lost in the images.

To complement the publication, London’s Somerset House has packed the mazelike galleries with highlights from Walker’s world. There’s enough of a narrative at hand to steer you through the collection (and power-steering is a must, as the exhibit is crowded), but not so much that you can’t let yourself get lost. Larger photos are hung on the walls, while smaller shots are stacked in white crates for easy thumbing. Props from shoots are peppered nonchalantly through the exhibit, too.

To celebrate the exhibit, Penny Martin, editor-in-chief of The Gentlewoman, held a discussion with Walker about this recent work. “There’s now a sense of darkness I hope is a sign of maturity,” he told her. “The sweetness [of my early work] can’t exist without a contrast.” While no one needs to worry that Tim’s abandoning his fantastical fantasies altogether, he feels he’s “really [successfully] explored the big set and the giant prop.” He’s ready to branch out a bit — so look out for short films and video work in his near future. Still, he remains one of the few photographers that doesn’t use digital, even while noting the technology would make his process easier. “I don’t like to think about [my work’s] audience,” he added. “The photos I take are for my own enjoyment and pleasure.” To enjoy them, too, click through for an exclusive look at the book.

Inside Tim Walker’s Over-the-Top New Book