Want My Job? with Nick Wall, celebrity photographer

We speak to celebrity photographer Nick Wall about his career, advice to young people getting started, and reflections on the industry

Want My Job? with Nick Wall, celebrity photographer

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

My name is Nick Wall. I’m a photographer who mainly works in the TV and Film industry. Creating images that are used to market projects all over the world.

How did you first get into photography?

My father was an enthusiastic photographer who had a darkroom, so I was taking pictures from a very young age. In my teens I hardly went anywhere without a camera.

And what was the career steps to becoming a celebrity photographer?

Like most young photographers I started by doing all sorts of different work. Beauty, fashion, portraits, events etc. Then see which ones gives you the best trajectory. Mine happened to be that I got the opportunity to photograph celebrities and I made the most of the chances that presented themselves to me. I went to a lot of film festivals where I would get the chance to photograph celebrities on speck. Often I wasn’t making any money from them, but building up a portfolio of celebrity portraiture.

What are some of the bits about your job you find challenging?

The hardest part is dealing with the uncertainty. Especially when starting out it’s not uncommon not to have any work for weeks on end.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

There are so many. My first few film posters, my first double page spread in a magazine, my first billboard. Getting hired to cover things in far flung places such as Africa, The North Pole and South America. Recent highlight was taking the pictures of Glenn Close for the recent Sunset Boulevard show on Broadway in New York. The final poster was the size of the whole building and one point covered the whole of times square.

Have you also worked outside of the creative sector?

No, I’ve never had a job. Been a professional photographer my whole adult life.

Who has been your favourite person to work with? Why?

There are so many who I’ve found a pleasure to work with. I have to say that Jude Law was a joy. So helpful and kind to everyone. Glenn Close as mentioned above was great and Meryll Streep was a privilege. Gave everyone the time they needed to do their job and yet such an enormous talent. 

Are you able to say who you found the most challenging?

Trust and discretion is a big part of my job, so unfortunately can’t share any such things.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?

Obviously, the digital age has made a huge difference to all the arts. The middle ground has almost disappeared. People expect to get things for free or for very little, so it must be very hard for young photographers to build a career. Magazines and newspapers are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Do you think social media sites like Instagram strengthens or dilutes the photography industry?

I feel these have had a positive effect on people understanding the medium of photography. Unlike the old days, most people now understand the concept of light and composition. 

Industry wise I’m sure it has been one of the things that has diluted the monetary value of pictures.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old Nick. What do you say?

Never stop experimenting; keep believing.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

I’ve found that the people who have succeeded the most are the ones that have been best at coping with set backs. Getting right back up and taking the punches. 

Always be kind and polite to assistants and runners. They are the future CEOs and commissioners. 

Is there any advice you can give about choosing equipment when you’re just starting out? 

There’s so much to choose from these days. But do your research and find the equipment that fits the work you want to do. If you do events for instance there is no need for a 50-megapixel camera. 

Where can people find out more about your work?

I have a web site www.nickwall.com. Also on Instagram @nickwallphotography 

Interested in photography? Check out this article on Creative Commons, a website filled with advice on getting into the arts.

Header Image Credit: Louis Waloschek Photography


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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