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Essay: Fashion photographer Nick Knight

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  • Subject area(s): Photography and arts essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 15 October 2019*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 938 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)
  • Tags: Fashion essays

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Today’s most influential fashion photographer Nick Knight works with the most well-known stars in the world. Knight was born in 1958 in London. He studied photography at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design. We can say that he’s a fashion pioneer. He has photographed for Vogue, I-D and has shot music videos too because he’s also a filmmaker. Multitalented creative artists are a couple of words that can describe him.

When he figured out that photography was the profession he wanted to learn?

Night actually started first to take a medicine course but when he realized he was not good at it, he quit. Night took a gap year and discovered his passion for photography. He was addicted to it later he studied photography at the college. His parents were open-minded, liberal and supportive. Now they’re both retired his father was a psychologist and his mother physiotherapist. Knight had planned to follow them into science by studying medicine.

How his career has started and what does he think about his fame?

As an art student he brings his first book out. The book was called ‘Skinheads’ and was published in 1982. He can immediately arouse interest in the editor of i-D (a well-known magazine). Then he’s asked to shoot a series of 100 portraits for the 5th anniversary of the magazine. He absolutely couldn’t refuse that request. The black and white portraits were a resounding success. After his success he works with a couple of art directors. Thereafter the most famous fashion brands are queuing up to work with him include Calvin Klein, Dior, … He thinks that fame is a weird, abstract concept, and no one has to hunker after. The famous people he knows and works with are still just people he says. They are famous whether they want or not but it’s not necessarily beneficial to them.

How he started with fashion photography?

In 1933 he made fashion photography by adapting ring flash photography to capture a model for Vogue. He created an overexposed aesthetic. Photographs like these had never graced the cover. He was also recognized for his use of color and pigmentation. ‘The most brilliant thing about photography is that it’s a passport into any social situation whatsoever’: Nick Knight says. He has his own ideas from the concept of beauty. Continually he challenges conventional ideas of beauty. Night likes to pushes its limits, creatively and technically. He has no fear of taboos, it’s his passion film and photography. That’s why he created SHOWstudio.com in 200. It’s a platform for fashion lovers with his projects and films. He would make his work also accessible. Therefore he’s streaming live how he works. He thinks the internet made fashion magazines obsolete because they don’t have a purpose anymore. He doesn’t believe that people like to have a physical thing. He asks if they really want a shiny, smelly, floppy block in their hand. His answer: I’m not sure they do.

What you think about new technology in your photographs?

He’s most excited about the mobile phones. The phones are becoming our screens for understanding fashion, as much as our computers were, he said. He believes that mobile can give you access. It’s not the size of the screen or the quality but the emotional connection that a communication creates. He’s also experimenting with 3D scanning. He challenges the fashion world to work with these new technologies. ‘We’re not waiting for technology, technology is waiting for us.’: he says. But he still believes these two main things are what artist’s needs, your heart and your mind.

How do you proceed with the famous stars?

It depends: he says. Some people have an idea and some not. There are also stars with a team. They have a very fixed idea of what they want. It’s different for different people. He calls the collaboration with stars not collaborations. It’s more me trying to see life through their eyes: he explains. He likes to get into their psyche.

Do you have some artists that inspire you?

No. He likes to read books and that’s it.

You also photographed flowers can you tell more about that?

He took a break from fashion to work with Chipperfield on Plant Power. That was a new gallery at the Natural History Museum in London. People can explore the relationship between people and plants. This break inspires him to work more with flowers and nature in his work. The elegancy of the nature and the beautiful colors of the flowers. He also made another turn in his work to shoot with plump women, elderly women and people with disabilities. He challenged the fashion industry.

How do you work at your studio?

Knight has a team that works for him. But he is still the creative brain behind the photographs. He always shoots wearing the same outfit including a jeans and a white shirt. The industry criticizes him also because his overuse of post-production techniques. He says: Digital manipulation is just another tool. It’s less profound than the lens you use, or the angle. He never thought that photography shows the reality. It’s always manipulation of the reality.

What can we conclude…

Night had a major influence on the fashion world. He is a good example of a man who has worked hard for what he has achieved. He has his own vision and his own style. That distinguishes his own with the rest. That makes him unique and he continues to inspire people.

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