“I think photography has been wrestling with a burden of telling the truth, which I don’t think it was ever particularly good at.” -Nick Knight

Nick Knight is a fashion photographer who thinks deeply about his work and where it fits in the industry. He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,) the second highest honor in the UK just under knighthood in 2010 for his contributions to the Arts. He is an honorary professor of the University of the Arts London where he holds an honorary Ph.D. from them.

Flora and fashion

While primarily known for his fashion photography, Nick Knight has worked with the Natural History Museum to create a series of photographs of pressed flowers and plants (opening photo, top row, first image.) The monograph called “Flora” is published Schirer Mosel.

Tatjana Ptitz for Jill Sander

Nick Knight’s campaign for the designer Jil Sander in 1992 featuring model and actress Tatjana Patitz resulted in hand painted prints. One of them titled “Tatjana Patitz for Jill Sander” (opening photo, top row, last image,) sold for $302,715. The print was number two in an edition of two. Both subjects become fine art that Knight creates.

The evolution of fashion visuals

On Photography: Nick Knight, OBE, 1958-present
Nick Knight

Knight knows that it’s time for the way fashion is displayed to change. “The way it’s been articulated for the past 100 years is no longer fit for purpose” he said. “You can’t keep on showing so many collections, you can’t keep asking designers to produce so much stuff, you can’t keep it all behind closed doors and you can’t just show through the magazines.”

Fashion film, as Knight calls his moving fashion studies, are changing the way people view fashion much as still photography did. “it [fashion photography] took 50-60 years to establish itself, it wasn’t until you get to the Bert Sterns, Irving Penns and the great photographers from the 1960s that you start to see something that really looks like contemporary fashion photography.”

Talking about his motion work he said, “And I think you’re seeing the same kind of invention in fashion film.”

New motion media including IMAX and HD video are the future of fashion shows and how new fashions are shown according to Knight.

First to livestream fashion shows

Nick Knight is a photographer and a visionary whose SHOWstudio creation brought fashion events to more than the 300 or so privileged to attend in person. He had been shooting video of his fashion sessions for designers like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and other friends and clients.

Then in 2009, he realized that everyone should be able to see what a fashion show was all about. In 2009, his SHOWstudio livestreamed Alexandar McQueen’s 2010 couture show.

In a 2018 interview in Odda Magazine Knight said, “The first fashion show I ever went to was Yohji Yamamoto in Paris in about ’86 and remember thinking the front row looked really bored and I was thinking, ‘This is amazing!’ It was so beautiful, it was like a piece of art. Knowing there were about 300 art students outside who wanted to so badly to see this, but couldn’t get in, I just thought why can’t we open the doors? “

“Then, the Internet came along which was a good way of opening the doors. It was a very exciting feeling to allow people to see this and we started with Plato’s Atlantis and that, overnight, changed the fashion industry. Now, eight years later, nearly 80% of the shows are broadcast live, so it’s all totally changed how fashion is shown.”

Music videos

Nick Knight has always seen fashion differently and experimentally. His creative visions for his still photography have brought him into the director’s chair in 2001 for the music video of “Pagan Poetry” for Björk, followed by a film for Massive Attack’s album “100th Window.” Knight has worked with several artists — Kanye West, Travis Scott and others, like Lady Gaga. He directed her “Born This Way” music video which shows off his amazing talent for video as well as his mind-blowing compositions.

Sources: Nick Knight, Phillips, SHOWstudio, The New York Times, Odda Magazine.

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