“My mother is an artist so I grew up in a household where working a creative profession was always a possibility,” says Sydney photographer Chris Walters. “Photography was never any less important than any other type of career so I was lucky to have been encouraged very early on.” By the age of 10 his mother, the artist Marilyn Walters, bought him his first camera, and after high school Chris studied Visual Arts at the University of Sydney. Since then he has worked for more than a decade as a commercial photographer for a range of advertising clients, including Mirvac, Nokia and the Mecure Hotel/Accor Group. “Photography is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do,” he says. Over the past four years Chris has been working on a fine art photography project which culminated in the show Halcyon at Black Eye Gallery. He also runs a small media production company, Walters Media, with his business partner.
Which five words best describe you? Patient, ambitious, open-minded, calm and lucky!
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I was very fortunate to have people around me that believed in me and supported me to go out on my own. I began working in a camera store part-time while completing small photography jobs at the beginning of my career. I would take on any job I could to get experience. I also assisted a fantastic advertising photographer Penny Clay whenever I could as it was great exposure to large-scale shoots with precision style capturing and briefs. Here I picked up quite a lot of skills which really helped me progress in my own commercial work.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always experiment. It is the best way to progress and hone your skills. With every job I do, I firstly complete the client brief as promptly and expertly as time allows, and then I try new things, experiment and think outside of the brief for a moment. I’m always surprised with what we create and so are my clients.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Probably my first solo show Halcyon at the Black Eye Gallery this year. It was great to finally see four and a half years of work culminate in a body of work that I am immensely proud.
What’s been your best decision? Convincing my wife to be my business partner. Since we joined forces the business and my career have moved forwards in leaps and bounds. Having that creative partnership with someone so close to me means that I get honest feedback. She is as critical, in a constructive way, as she is supportive which makes me a better photographer because I get to evaluate and deconstruct my work externally which pushes me to constantly grow and change.
Who inspires you? I take inspiration from everywhere, but musician Bon Iver (in particular, his second self-titled album), Nadav Kander, Claude Monet (especially his later more minimal works), Marilyn Walters (my mother, who is also an artist), and my friends who work in any kind of creative industry or are small business owners trying to carve their own way.
What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about art, travel and football (soccer, the one you use your feet for!). I’m crazy about football, just ask my wife. Creatively, I am constantly thinking about my next project and where in the world I need to go to create it or how I can convince someone else to go there and take me with them.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to meet some of the early game-changing artists of the early 1900s such as Marcel Duchamp or Salvador Dali. The ones who sat around together and theorised about what art is, the age old question. Artists who were actually changing and challenging the way we see the world and constantly pushing the boundaries of what art is.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To travel the world full-time making images or professional footballer. I’d be happy with either.
What are you reading? At the moment I’m reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Love the way he analyses the world, his podcast Revisionist History is so clever.
images courtesy of chris walters