We asked a few questions to London based photographer and Dark Snow collaborator Walnutwax about music, photography & life.
First of all, how and when did you become interested in photography?
I’ve had an obsession with imagery from around the age of 10, starting at album and single covers. I remember going to a family friends house in 1978 and he had just bought the album “Outlandos d’Amour” by The Police. In the inner sleeve there was a collage of photographs… I remember looking at that for like 2 hours while my mum and dad talked about grown up stuff haha! I also had an obsession with the Bowie cover to “The Man Who Sold the World”, the black & white live photo.
What does photography mean to you?
I recently took a 2 month break and I regretted doing it. I was totally lost without being creative so for sure it means that without it I’m totally lost. I had a really bad experience in my late 20’s when I was beaten up badly, it absolutely rocked my confidence for years… And thru photography I feel like I’ve managed to find that confidence again. I guess photography means different things to different people, to me it’s my release, it’s what makes me tick and ultimately what brings a certain happiness to me that I didn’t have for many years.
What’s your shooting process?
I’m mostly testing agency girls at the moment so I’ll get in touch with a booker or they’ll get in touch with me. It’s often the case when I’m scrolling thru instagram and see a girl I like is in town and I’ll hit up her booker and try and make it happen.
From time to time I’ll meet someone on IG, with that we’d talk about styling, if we’re both on the same page we’ll talk about what day would suit us both.
With an agency girl there’s times when the girl is not familiar with my work. When she turns up we’ll have a little catch up and I’ll show her my website, from there we’ll go thru some styling options, I have lots of styling things at my place so it’s fairly easy to find something we’re both happy with. Then it’s a case of getting the tunes on and start shooting. I’ll try and shoot 2 or 3 looks in a 90 minute slot.
Photography is not your full time job, is it? Is it hard for you to integrate it into your everyday life?
In my full time job I work 4 days on 4 days off. In that days off I try to shoot 2 girls, this works out perfect for me. I’ll manage my time so I can edit all the images before my next 4 days off. If I worked Monday to Friday I would find it harder to shoot… Weekend shoots I’ve set up in the past have very rarely worked out.
You moved from Scotland to London many years ago. How did it shaped your style?
I really wasn’t photographing that much when I was in Scotland so I don’t think I had a style. I shot a few friends bands and live music stuff but that was about it. I moved to London 20 years ago, I messed around for 10 years then 10 years ago decided to push myself back into photography. It took me a few years to work out what worked for me, but once I found a style I ran with it and I’m really happy with what I’m shooting now.
What matters most in a photo: its immediate visual impact or the story it tells?
I’m not very good at story telling tbh so I would say visual impact. If someone sees an image of mine and says “Wow she’s beautiful” then I’ll take that all day.
If you could shoot with any model/person in the world, who would you choose?
Ohhhh so many models… Anya Lyagoshina, Lida Fox, Ava Minaeva, Carolina Ballesteros, Luma Grothe, Farah Holt, Charlotte Carey, Grace Hartzel, Ava Mcvoy to name just a few.
Robert De Niro would be kinda cool too.
What’s the worst thing that happened during one of your shooting?
Well I’ve been thrown out of a few car parks and I’ve been asked to leave private property a few times… And me and a model was asked to leave a bowling alley once when I was just starting out (think they thought the model was expressing herself too much) haha! I also had a nightmare shoot with a really rude agency model once, she had the worst attitude of anyone I’ve met in the business. Looked great on camera but such a bad attitude… I got sick of her after about 45 mins and asked her to leave.
Who are the photographers/artists that most inspire you?
Wolfgang Tillmans was the guy who made me want to photograph people, Derek Ridgers was the guy who made me want to photograph people in a certain way. I threw Helmut Newton in there and within the 3 of them I slowly started to find my way.
Describe yourself in 3 words
Happy go lucky
If you only had to listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
The Beatles White Album.
What keeps you motivated and what new projects are you working on?
Mostly the models I shoot. When a girl turns up and things just fall in to place there’s no better feeling… It’s such a rush, totally keeps me in the game and motivated.
As far as projects nothing really, I’m not really a project guy, I’m much more of a “Hey u wanna come over and shoot some photos” kinda person.
What’s the meaning of life?
Pablo Picasso said it beautifully: “The meaning of life is to find your gift… The purpose of life is to give it away”.