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Tim Walker's wild world of fashion photography
British photographer Tim Walker turns fashion shoots into fairytales, or "daydreams into photographs," he says. Eccentric and satirical - French baguettes as airplanes, British foxhunts, giant dolls, ufo’s and broken Humpty Dumpty's as props - his work is a hymn to high-fashion past and an inventive poke in its present eye. "When you're a fashion photographer everything is contrived from the start," he says. "Nothing is real. What you’re trying to do is make a real moment happen by installing genuineness into the artifice." He indulges the medium's mystique and charade to a luxuriant degree, yet his surreal, sometimes hyperreal and sensual confections co-exist with the sinister and the spoofy, as though some big, bad wolf will pounce and devour the precarious scene in a snap. "Fairy tales are very sinister things," he says. "As life gets harder it is adults who sugar-coat childhood." Photographer Irving Penn said the camera was "part Stradivarius, part scalpel." Walker's a virtuoso visualisto and poet of the slaughterhouse.

Precocious, too. Walker set up the Cecil Beaton Archive at Vogue magazine as a 19-year-old intern, studied art and photography at Exeter Art College, England and leveraged his way to New York as full-time assistant to Richard Avedon. By 25, he shot his first Vogue fashion story. "Fashion photography is the dream department of photography," says the now 42-year-old. Walker's recent work has been portrait-centric, a shift from the fleeting fancy of high fashion to capturing intimate - still playful - images in his studio. See Danish chef René Redzepi of Noma restaurant, his fingers bound with knives reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands; Lanvin ladies man Alber Elbaz, sporting faux-fur rabbits ears, a nod to Alice in Wonderland; and a prophetic portrait of the late designer Alexander McQueen resting his arms over a skull, with McQueen, and it, smoking cigarettes. Says Walker: “Sometimes when you’re taking a picture an extraordinary sense of luck and chance propels you to make pictures you couldn't in your wildest dreams have imagined. This is the magic of photography." ISBN presents an exclusive look at Walker's work.
"Tim Walker Story Teller" is exhibited at Somerset House, London, supported by Mulberry, until  January 27 2013, ( The accompanying book, Tim Walker Story Teller is published by Thames & Hudson (£45), and features 175 images, collages and snapshots from Walker's personal archives. 
TOP: Giant doll kicks Lindsey Wixson.
 Fashion: Louis Vuitton. Eglingham Hall, Northumberland, 2011