The Wall-Nuts Interview with Cybele Malinowksi

Cybele Malinowski is a world-class photographer specializing in musician portraiture and expanding into other imagery.

“Carved her way as one of the most sought after music and fashion photographers in Sydney, Australia… her work has graced the covers of over 50 magazines” (from her website

Her Gotye images are amongst the most widely-recognised and hailed images of Wally, and some of our favorites:

A weekend with Gotye

Gotye for Triple J Magazine

Our wonderful Wall-Nut musician and video-tech Robbie put together this awesome montage of Cybele’s images:

<p><a href=”″>GotyeVid</a&gt; from <a href=”″>The Wallnuts</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

A beautiful and pensive image of our favorite boy by Cybele

A beautiful and pensive image of our favorite boy by Cybele

We  had a quick chat with her about her process and her work with the face that launched 300 million+ YouTube views!

How did you get connected with Wally, did he contact you or vice versa? Do you suggest the “poses” or do you just let Wally let loose and you capture the moments? -Lorraine

We have been friends for years. I shot his other band ‘The Basics’ quite a few times, and he just asked me to do his Gotye shots.

It’s a combination. I setup the scenario, and then let my subject play within that. You have to provide enough inspiration and playfulness for them to then explore. In saying that, Wally has a very clear visual direction himself, so it’s about bouncing off each other.

Do you prefer to be serious in photos or a bit silly?-Laura

I always seem to find myself caught between the two, and not right down the middle- but half my photos are deadly serious, my tragic Russian blood comes out, and the other half head toward the absurd. I think that’s the way I have found a balance in this crazy world.

I would love so very much to see ALL the pics you have of Wally!! What other pictures of him did you do? Are there any unreleased? What was the “idea” behind the mattress photos?-April

There are quite a few that haven’t been released- even a naked one. That will never see the light of day. I can promise

From Cybele's "A Weekend with Gotye" collection (

From Cybele’s “A Weekend with Gotye” collection (

you that!

Ha! I love how you inverted commas around “idea!”

Well, I just thought it would be fun for him to jump on a mattress in the middle of a field. Then when he was carrying the mattress to the spot I realized the act of carrying it almost spoke louder than jumping on it. A journey. Moving one’s sleep.

From Cybele's collection "A Weekend with Gotye"

From Cybele’s collection “A Weekend with Gotye”

I really want to know this, but it may be stalkerish-when you say You photographed Wally naked, do you mean NAKED?-Anon


Do you have a favorite picture by someone else?-Lorraine

Yep. LOTS! I actually love Viennese art in particular. Egon Scheile’s self-portraits in particular. For landscapes, you can’t beat Jeffrey Smart, there is a similar lonely comedy in David Hockney’s ‘The Splash’ and Chuck Close. I remember seeing Close’s gigantic self portrait down in the National Gallery in Canberrra, and being blown away. I love seeing an artist in their work- whether literally or expressively. Photographically speaking, if I could hang one work on my wall, I would have to say one of Weegee’s crime scene pictures. He was the first photographer I studied in depth, and once again, he finds a certain comedy in tragedy. That’s how I navigate through life!

What led you to become a photographer? Was it something you have done since childhood? Any tips for an amateur (like me) who wants to become better at photographing people, so they don’t end up so stiff and stilted?-Christine

I have always been taking photos, since I was 9, but never thought it would be a profession. I actually studied architecture, and then fell into photography in my gap year at uni. Never looked back.

Lots of coffee and energy! I use my energy to create what I want to get out of my subjects. It’s an exhausting method, but works for me.

Is there someone you would like to photograph that you have not yet done? Like a ‘dream job’?-Denise

An airborne shot from aloft

An airborne shot from aloft

Dream job- A series of portraits, starting with David Attenborough and ending with Madonna. Just basically photographing my childhood heroes.

What’s the story behind the mug shot photos? Who decides what the sign says?-Lisa

I just wanted to do something fun. Simple portraits, with a twist. I got each musician or band to write down what they wanted on the boards, which revealed their personality, quirks, or lack-thereof. Some people had lots of fun with it, others were rather literal.

You have a quirky style that’s lots of fun, where do you get the ideas for the props that you use in your shoots?-Christine

It’s hard! I’ve been shooting for 8 years, and it’s so important to keep the fun alive. I throw around a lot of ideas before the shoot, see which ones I can get away with and go from there. It’s a balance. I have to get the more contemplative, straight press shots, and once they are done, its time to have some fun.

From Cybele's "A Weekend with Gotye" collection (

From Cybele’s “A Weekend with Gotye” collection (


What inspired you to do the series with that gorgeous cat, which included one of Wally?-Juliette

Wally and regular subject Pushkin the cat. C. Cybele Malinowski

Wally and regular subject Pushkin the cat. C. Cybele Malinowski

That’s my kitty Pushkin. Thank you, she is very gorgeous! She is just a show off, and tries to get in every single shoot I do! We’ll be shooting a band, a model, whoever, and she will invariably wander into the studio, and make sure she gets everyone’s attention, and a momento photo.

What is your favorite portrait of Wally that you’ve done? Is there a specific project/theme that you think you would like to do with Wally in future?-Christine

I’d say the really this one×1413.jpg, where my make-up artist’s hand is entering the frame, adjusting his hair. It reveals the construction of a photograph, and a musician’s identity in the public eye.

For sure. I would love to head to the outback in Western Australia with him. We did speak about it, we’ll see!

Thanks for your time, Cybele!

Cybele's candid favorite of Wally

Cybele’s candid favorite of Wally


3 thoughts on “The Wall-Nuts Interview with Cybele Malinowksi

  1. I love these interviews. It gives so much info and background into the pictures and stories we look at everyday. Keep up the good work.

  2. I love coming back to our “home” to peruse the amazing photos and re-read the interviews with people who have touched Wally’s life, and thereby, touched ours. Those delicate yet unbreakable threads that connect us…

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