Spotlight: Photographer, Liam Duke

We’ve been a fan of photographer Liam Duke’s work for quite some time. His impressive portfolio of portraits include high-end fashion shoots and A-List names. However, it’s his recent project we’ve been especially captivated by, in particular, Dead Beautiful. The imagery depicts flowers taking on a different kind of beauty in their decaying and dried state, forming other-worldly shapes and silhouettes. We caught up with Liam to find out more about what inspired this beautiful body of work…

Liam Duke, Dead Beautiful
Flowers gifted by H&M

Tell us about your photography journey Liam?

The first time I fell in love with photography was when I came across boxing photos from the 1940s and 50s. I have always been struck by images rather than words.  I found a book by André Kertész and fell in love once again. After studying zoology at college, I ended up working in a kitchen attached to a fashion photography studio called Click. I eventually moved on to run the studios which then led to me assist several big-name photographers including Brigitte Lacombe, Manuela Pavesi and Corinne Day. I began shooting portraits for GQ and Arena magazine and then after a few years moved into fashion. I have been shooting commercially for over 20 years.

We’re fascinated by your recent project, Dead Beautiful. What is the inspiration behind it?

Dead Beautiful came from my partner who is a fashion director. Our house would always be full of beautiful flowers from PR companies representing brands. I loved them for longer than most people would, as the flowers would change and die, and then they would look more and more beautiful to my eye. It strikes me how quickly we throw away things too soon, or retouch things to look perfect rather than let things be. The Wabi-Sabi way of thinking is much more me (outside commercial work) but then I’ve always been attracted to the less obvious beauty in things. In terms of the technique, the images are made from up to 30 different medium format frames to give a 3D painterly feel and when they are seen as 1 metre squared framed prints they have such impact.

Liam Duke Dead Beautiful
Flowers gifted by Louis Vuitton

You’ve photographed a range of subjects. What do you like about flowers?

One of the big pleasures is that I get to shoot more colours and tones and textures and that there is an end point, ie to make big pictures that people get pleasure from, not necessarily a retouched perfect image that sells something. It was a new discipline to shoot and light flowers but the process itself gives me such happiness.

Liam Duke Dead Beautiful
Flowers gifted by Isabel Marant

Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to your work?

My big inspirations are artists such as Vermeer and Paul Delaroche. I love going to galleries but love to look at people as much as looking at art. I’m also a big fan of films, from Christopher Nolan’s Batman to film noir, such as Carol Reed’s The Third Man.

Tell us what’s next for you Liam?

Well I have found another medium that makes me happy which is shooting moving images which I’ll be doing more of. I’ll also be collaborating with perfume companies and finishing my mask portrait series.

You can see Liam’s collection, Dead Beautiful in display at The Urban Garden Show, 25 – 27 October