TALKING WITH GARY WALLIS
We got the chance to sit down with Gary Wallis and talk with him about his career, his friendship with the iconic fashion designer Alexander McQueen and ask him for advice to work in this crazy industry.
Image: Wallis Pictures
What does your job consist of exactly?
I am a new lecturer in Fashion Photography at Solent University, I started in 2019. I also teach at Central Saint Martins where I am Photography Subject leader on the Graphic Visual Communication program. In between I shoot portrait and fashion photography.
What got you interested in fashion film?
I have always had a passion for film and have made several short films in the last few years as well as some commercial projects, as I also work in fashion it is just a natural progression.
When you work with big names, do you do what you think is better or do you follow their plans and ideas?
Fashion photography or film is at its best when it is a collaborative process. This means there needs to be space for all the team to bring creativity and ideas even if the concept comes from the photographer, stylist, magazine or client.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Everywhere, life, politics, film, music, art and photography.
What are some big names you have worked for/with?
I worked a lot with Alexander McQueen in the beginning, shooting his graduation collection and next few shows for him. I also shot a film for his first show Banshee at Café de Paris. It was a Black and white film shot on Super 8. This was lost for nearly 25 years, it was rediscovered recently. I did some of Katie Grands first shoots at college and worked with her for Dazed and Confused Magazine when it started.
Who’s one person who you have met in this industry that has inspired you the most?
Hard to say, I met Nadav Kander last year at the Sony World Photography Awards. He did a Q&A for the 10 finalists and their Tutors. He has long been one of my favourite contemporary photographers and he was really inspirational and giving with his thoughts and time.
What has been the biggest project you have been a part of?
My backstage images from McQueen where used in the McQueen feature documentary film in 2018. I worked with Ian Bônhote and Peter Ettedgui selecting the images, we also worked together making a short film from my lost McQueen tapes that was released with the Limited Edition of the McQueen DVD.
How would you say documenting fashion helps in understanding our society?
Fashion is intrinsically linked to society and very often reflects was it going on. This is very clear with sub cultures, the class system, wealth etc.
How has fashion film/documentary changed since you started?
Advances in technology have made film making far more accessible to far more people. So many people are coming at it from far more different directions and backgrounds which has the potential to make it far more exciting.
Where would you say that fashion meets emotion in your work?
There should always be emotion in photography.
What is the most exciting thing about the fashion industry today?
I think fashion film. Is one of the most exciting things happening in fashion today.
How has your style changed professionally since you started?
How I take pictures has change so many times over the last 30 years I wouldn’t know where to start!
What advice would you give to someone who is starting now in this industry?
I do not know anyone in the industry who is successful who does not have an excellent work ethic. You have to be 100% committed, driven and work very hard. It is a very saturated market and you need your work to be individual and stand out from the crowd. You also need to also work very hard to build contacts, network and build relationships. This should start at college, I still work with people I was at college with.