"Advertising in general is about as subtle as a brick, but I love subtlety," says Julian Wolkenstein. The Australian-bred, London-based photographer is best known for clever conceptual work with unexpected twists—like his slightly creepy Halloween shots for Snickers and TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y.,where middle-aged homeowners open the door to trick-or-treating goblin-sized versions of themselves. Repped by Bransch, Wolkenstein first won international prominence—and a Gold at Cannes—for a 2003 self-promo series, and he snagged Gold again in 2004 for the Environment Waikato safe-driving flyer campaign, in which his photograph of a young girl's face smashed against a windshield was placed facing inward on the front windows of hundreds of parked cars. The same year, Wolkenstein made the jump from Sydney to London and quickly hooked up with the clients like Sony, Renault and the BBC. Recent U.S. jobs include two of three shots for the Snickers campaign (the other is by Shawn Michienzi), plus charity work with Saatchi & Saatchi for the ASPCA and the child-protection group Innocence in Danger. All the while, he's also turned out a plethora of personal projects.
In spite of this whirlwind of work, Wolkenstein, 34, claims that his process is slow and laborious. He prefers to take a few days to mull over the initial brief, and he relishes spending another few days in postproduction. "The shooting days are really just the raw materials," he says. "What happens after that is just as important." In post, he prefers to do the color grading himself and he oversees a team of retouchers. Recently, Wolkenstein has been shooting horses with human hairstyles for a personal project; dangling from a helicopter for a London radio station ad; and doing editorial work for Chanel in Paris. No longer the "provincial Australian photographer" of his early days, "I'm at the point now where I'd like to expand into editorial and personal projects. I still seem to get an award or two every year, but I'm less awards-driven now. I think I'm looking elsewhere for that sort of fulfillment."