Knight & Day
Posted on 17 October 2016
Over the past 30 years, Nick Knight has given the world – and the world of fashion in particular – some of its most inspiring and innovative imagery. Throughout his career he has challenged preconceptions of what is possible, or indeed beautiful, both technically and aesthetically.
“The most brilliant thing about photography is that it's a passport into any social situation whatsoever," says Knight. "It's a ticket to photograph the President of the US, or a heroin addict in Camden, or a prostitute in Paris, or the biggest recording star in the world. Becoming a photographer is a way of finding out about people – finding out about life – and experiencing what they experience.”
Knight’s photography style in distinctive, original and above all, dynamic. He possesses a unique ability to capture movement like no one else; from forceful poses to ethereal effects and the movement of fabric and hair. His photos are stylised; he doesn’t focus on realism. His photos are very creative and have a futuristic quality about them.
Born in London in 1958, Knight studied photography at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design. He graduated with a distinction in 1982. After the publication of his first book, Skinheads, his work caught the attention of art director Marc Ascoli, who commissioned Knight to shoot the 1986 catalogue of avant-garde Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto in collaboration with renowned graphic designer Peter Saville.
It can certainly be argued that Knight’s career was launched by Yamamoto as their collaboration propelled his work into the spotlight. Shortly afterwards he was commissioned by i-D editor Terry Jones to create a series of 100 portraits for the magazine's fifth anniversary issue (which he recreated for their thirtieth anniversary).
Knight made fashion history in November 1993 by adapting ring-flash photography to capture Linda Evangelista for a landmark, post-grunge cover of British Vogue. Since then, his work has graced no fewer than 36 covers.
Since his first foray into fashion photography, Knight has shot both editorial and advertising projects for some of the biggest brands in the industry, as well as album covers for the likes of David Bowie, Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga.
In November 2000, Knight launched SHOWstudio.com, an online fashion broadcasting company specialising in new, live fashion media with experimental interactive projects, films and live performances. He has since directed several music video including Pagan Poetry by Björk in 2001 and Lady Gaga's single Born This Way in 2011.
In 2010, he received an OBE in recognition of the contribution he has made to the arts over his illustrious career. The idea behind Knight’s photos isn’t only to attract consumer’s attention to his client’s clothes; he also has a very meaningful philosophy behind his artwork. Knight once said, “I don’t want my photographs to reflect social change – I want them to cause social change.”