About the Photographer
Todd Walker was prolific as a photographer, printmaker and bookmaker for over sixty years. An innovative technician with a continuing interest in alternative printing processes, Walker played a role in the late 1960s and the 1970s in expanding the prevailing attitudes about creative photography, pushing against the conventional boundaries of the practice. For the last thirty years of his career he was also a devoted educator at a number of universities.
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Walker grew up in Los Angeles. His father was an draughtsman and an architect for the movie studios, and provided Walker with his first exposure to photography and darkroom practices as a child. After graduating from high school, Walker worked as an apprentice scene painter in Hollywood and took a few photography classes before embarking on a career as a photographer in the 1930s. With the outbreak of World War II he went to work as a flight instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps. During the 1950s and 1960s Walker found increased success in Los Angeles as a commercial photographer, and his advertising photographs were featured in national magazines such as Life and the Saturday Evening Post.
Not fully satisfied with commercial work, Walker also pursued a range of personal projects. He researched the traditional collotype printing process and began to use it for his own work. In continued response to the limits of client-based work, he went on to investigate other largely-forgotten printing processes, and to experiment with techniques like solarization. In the mid-1960s he also began working with an offset press, printing his images as photolithographs in large editions and producing small runs of artists' books.
Starting in 1966, Walker began working part-time as an instructor at Art Center College in Pasadena, California, but it was in 1969 that he began to focus on teaching and on his independent work. That same year he closed his studio and stopped accepting new commercial jobs. He also joined Robert Heinecken and Robert Fichter as a instructor at UCLA, where he began teaching an evening extension class. Heinecken and Fichter shared Walker's interest in alternative processes and experimental techniques and these artists—along with professors at a few other programs throughout the United States—played a significant role in fostering a change in photographic practice in the United States, moving away from the priorities of modernist photography.
In 1970 Walker relocated to Gainesville, Florida to teach alongside Jerry Uelsmann at the University of Florida. During the seven years he taught there, Walker delved deeper into explorations of photo-printmaking, in part inspired by his contact with printmaking professor Ken Kerslake. One of Walker's focuses during this period was on screenprinting. The Todd Walker Portfolio (1978), represented here, consists of color silkscreens of a set of photographs of nude figures, in which Walker uses the technique to create a range of color and spatial effects.