Tony Webster is an Irish fashion, portrait and commercial photographer working between Ireland, Glasgow and LA.
After seven years of travel around the globe as a humanitarian aid worker in which he discovered his keen interest in fashion and eye for photography, creator of BigBad Llama Tony, combined his two loves and hasn’t looked back since.
After training himself everything he needed to know, Tony quickly gained success and praise within the UK from magazines such as Company, Vogue and Elle.
But it was after several of his images were used in Vogue that Tony truly rose to prominence.
This year has seen Tony shoot in New York, Los Angeles and across Europe. The self made inspiration took time out of his crazy schedule to sit down for a chat with us.
Wherever I happen to have my camera and laptop! I am currently split between Belfast, Glasgow and L.A for work so it really is wherever I find myself working – but Belfast is my home home – for many years I wanted to leave and after being gone for a few years I came back with a new found love for my city.
Tell us something your mum doesn’t know about you?
My mum knows everything about me because she’s a typical Belfast nosey ma! Haha!
She’s always been worried about me, no matter what age I was, with the amount of travelling I do – so always requests full updates on every part of my life.
Maybe the problem is I told her a bit TOO much. The only thing she possibly doesn’t know about me is that I am actually quite a good cook – she’s just never got to experience it!
What would you do if you had the keys to the city for the day?
If I had the keys to the city for a day I would arrange to swap the politicians at Stormont for the animals in Belfast zoo, because maybe one pack of primitive animals can do a better job than the other!
Other than that, at this time of year it would be perfect to get all the homeless people inside and fed and warm – Christmas is such an awful time to be on the streets and Belfast has a real problem with homelessness. I really encourage people to get behind local charities supporting the homeless this year!
What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made in Belfast?
I just recently discovered APOC above Aether and Echo and had some of the best cocktails I have ever had (and I’ve had a few!)
Other than that I have loved discovering and collaborating with a lot of creatives here – there’s some serious unsung talent in the creative industry here.
Which building would you most like to be locked in overnight?
I would love to be locked in the Linen Hall Library – I love that building and the interiors! It feels so lush and as a young kid I always hoped the books would all melt like in The Pagemaster – I always had a vivid imagination so I love libraries – its the place where all the stories live!
Matt Bomer. Ooft. A lot of people love him now after seeing American Horror Story Hotel – but I loved him from Tru Calling, back in the day – he was a babe then and he’s a babe now.
I do have a wee secret crush on Grant Gustin who plays The Flash – he’s a loveable geek superhero, so who wouldn’t love that?
My perfect day in the city would start with breakfast in Avoca, followed by a walk around the Ulster Museum (I never get sick of walking around the place!) a quick coffee on Botanic before heading back into town for lunch and cocktails in Made in Belfast.
Off to the zoo in the afternoon before heading home to get the dogs and bring them for a nice long walk up a Shaw’s Bridge. A cosy night in listening to the rain with plenty of good Dvds and my fiancé! Perfect!
Earliest Belfast memory?
One of my fondest Belfast memories of Belfast was Bill Clinton turning on the Christmas tree lights! The city was crazy and I didn’t quite realise why he was standing behind the big plastic window – which I now realise was bulletproof glass!
What movie most closely resembles your life story and why?
There is a movie that is actually quite similar to my life ha! It’s called Latter Days and it’s about this mormon missionary who is out on mission in LA and encounters a non sheltered life and the realisation that he has to deal with that he’s gay, and gets shunned by church because of it.
I’m not a mormon but I was a missionary for 6 years and came to the same realisation. I also lived in LA at the time! (haha!) I watched that movie while I was still in denial and I just remember crying my eyes out and hoping that some day I would have a group of friends that didn’t care if I was gay, or Christian or both!
Sum up Belfast in three words?
Underated. Creative. Evolving.