Inside Tim Walker’s world

As a major retrospective of Tim Walker’s work comes to the V&A in London, Gem Fletcher examines what lies behind his fantastical photographs and explores the challenges – and fears – he has to confront to bring them to life

Fear and vulnerability are not subjects that world-renowned photographers often talk about. Studying Tim Walker’s work has always been an emotional encounter: dreams, desires, worry and fears are examined and laid bare, yet Walker has rarely opened up about his personal demons. But in his new book, Shoot for the Moon, he does just that, sharing candid insights into the struggles and frustrations within his creative process, and how an ­approach that initially felt like conjuring magic became stifling.

Walker has spent the past two decades bringing fashion to life. He blends contemporary clothes with ancient-looking faces, creating images that transcend both fashion and the printed page. What makes his fantasies so extraordinarily potent is that they always have one foot in reality. He conjures mermaids, UFOs and decadent princesses in the familiar landscapes of the English countryside. Rather than perpetuate something that has already been, Walker has strived to create individual works. He offers the viewer some much-needed escapism; whether it’s a beautiful fairy tale or a menacing vision, he always wants us to be part of the fantasy.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

London, EC3R

SENIOR DESIGNER

Guildford, Surrey