Tim Walker: Story Teller exhibition at Somerset House

Mechanical dolls by Tim Walker and Rhea Thierstein | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionPhotography by Tim Walker. Image courtesy of Rhea Thierstein

‘I don’t want to sound mystical but sometimes when you take a picture something takes over and leads you’ – Tim Walker

One of the highlights of my trip to London on Saturday, and the main reason for going, was to see the Tim Walker: Story Teller exhibition at Somerset House.

For anyone unfamiliar with his work, Tim Walker is a British fashion photographer who creates and shoots scenes worthy of fairytales, truly putting the story into ‘fashion story’ – typically used to define various fashion editorials in magazines. After graduating with a degree in Photography from Exeter University in 1994, Walker assisted the American fashion photographer Richard Avedon before moving up the ranks to become a legendary fashion photographer in his own right. His work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, British Vogue and W Magazine.

The first time I remember seeing a photograph by Walker was in a 2008 copy of Vogue. It was a Tim Burton-inspired shoot (which features in the exhibition) set in the corn fields of Kings Seeds, Colchester. I was blown away by the models (which included Burton and his muse, Helena Bonham Carter), the make-up, the clothes, the sets and the poses.

After that moment I began searching out Walker’s work, oggling manor houses filled with multicoloured balloons and shots of models in gowns with 12 foot long trains, draped off regal-looking stairwells and ladders.

Tim Walker and Rhea Thierstein for Vanity Fair | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionPhotography by Tim Walker. Image courtesy of Rhea Thierstein

Story Teller pulls together some of Walker’s most exquisite fashion stories, along with portraits of British icons such as Vivienne Westwood, the cast of Monty Python and the late Italian fashion writer, Anna Piaggi.

Larger photos have been displayed on the walls of the East Wing gallery, while smaller ones have been purposefully propped up in white-washed creates, as if they had travelled from far and wide (on cargo ships and steam trains) to reach the venue. As well as the stunning photographs, all in simple white frames, there were also props from each shoot on display.

These props, ranging from an insect orchestra to a giant doll complete with gingham dress and curls, were of particular interest as some were made by a friend and former colleague of mine, the insanly talented Rhea Thierstein. Rhea has designed props, sets and costumes for Mulberry, LOVE magazine and Cath Kidston, and it’s props like hers that are intrinsic in bringing Walker’s photographs to life, making his shoots so imaginative and inviting to look at, and adding to the fantasy world that each frame creates.

This exhibition is on until Sunday and is an absolute must-see for photography and fashion fans alike. If you’re based in London then you may already have seen it but if not then what are you waiting for!? Walker’s images are incredible and the exhibition offers the brieft opportunity to step inside those pages of Vogue and see the dream-maker behind the lens.

Have you been to see Story Teller yet?

Tim Walker: Story Teller is free and running until 27th January at Somerset House. For more details on the exhibition, visit the Somerset House website. Thanks to Rhea for letting me use these images.



  1. January 23, 2013 / 7:18 pm

    I am so gutted I wasn’t able to get to London for this and won’t be able to by the 27th, I love Tim Walker! x

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