“Photography is dead” Mr. Knight is not fearful of change. Quite the opposite. He seems to thrive on it. “I think photography is dead,” he said, reflecting on the medium’s inability to evolve. “Film died some years ago. I don’t miss it,” he added without any trace of nostalgia. “None of my children read magazines. Fashion will be shaped by the Internet. [www. businessoffashion. com] “The evening began with a look back at Mr. Knight’s early days and the source of the tireless, forward-looking energy that has defined his career. Ever since I started in photography I wanted to change it,” he said, “Every waking hour I would take photographs. It quickly became an addiction. ” [www. businessoffashion. com] This essay is about the inspiring fashion photographer Nick Knight and how contemporary and influential his work is, talking about his past work and his transition into moving image and fashion film. “I first picked up a camera in about 1957 it was a family camera and the real reason I did it was because I wanted to photograph girls. I liked girls – it sounds really dumb but then so did Jacques Henri Lartigue. ” – Nick Knight [www. heindependent. co. uk] Nick Knight believes the word fashionable should not exist in an interview in ‘The Independent’ he states “it’s elitist, non inclusive, divisive, and I don’t think people can say, ‘this is fashion and this is not’. Things are desirable to people at different times. ” [The Independent Sept. 24. 2011 Pg7] Nick Knight was born in Chiswick, London, on the 24th November 1958. His father was a psychologist and his mother a physiotherapist. He is a multi award winning fashion photographer and director. He has many clients including Vogue, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and he has directed music ideos for Lady Gaga and Bjork. He is the director and founder of SHOWstudio. com and lives in Richmond with his wife Charlotte and their three children, Emily, Ella and Callum. Most probably taking the path into science led by his mother and father he attended a biology degree but it wasn’t before long that he realised this was not for him and dropped out. He then found his self at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design. Even after six months in art school he was getting jobs from magazines such as New Musical Express to take images of musicians on the scene.
In 1980 someone suggested he speak to Terry Jones. Terry Jones had a new project, a magazine called i-D. Knight’s introduction to i-D would prove important for his growing reputation and career. I-D was one of Knight’s primary clients and through this magazine it resulted in him getting noticed by Marc Ascoli, who asked Knight to collaborate with him on advertising campaigns for Yohji Yamamoto’s clothing collection. “The most impressive fashion photos around have Marc somewhere behind them,” says Knight [Amy Barasch Holly Stuart Hughes Source: Photo District News. 1. 8 July 1991):p1] In November 2000, Knight launched a website SHOWstudio. com an online live site that showcases fashion media. An assortment of interviews, blogs, videos and photographers. It was one of the first websites to broadcast live from catwalk shows and fashion shoots, and offers access to the previously closed world of high fashion. Nick Knight’s wife Charlotte Knight is Executive Producer of SHOWstudio, she over sees the production of the projects from planning to post-production elements. Skinhead 1980
This image taken from Nick Knight’s first book ‘skin head’ published in 1982, during the making, which was at the height of the second generation of skinheads. By the time the book was released all the London’s pubs and clubs had firmly shut their doors to skinheads and as Nick Knight started the book “The Last Resort” the last place for them to hang out had shut down too. This book was a way to see how the skinhead had come and evolved and grew out in fashion. There are lots of points of view and in fact there were many types of different skinhead.
They were kind of mods with no hair that wore doc martins. There is political types, white power, anti-racist all sorts of types and many people were probably confused about them as some people still are to this day. In a question and answers interview I found Nick Knight’s answer very interesting when asked “over the past years photographing, what do you think it has allowed you to access to that you could never have been? ” Nick Knight responded “most things probably. It is a way of living out desires. I could never have been most of the things I’ve photographed.
Part of the reason to do is to experience them. Photographing Skinhead was part of a way to experience it. I wouldn’t have done it without a camera. The whole notion of photography is that it takes you places you couldn’t access otherwise. That’s the way it started: as an impartial witness to the events that people couldn’t see or experience. That’s also inherent problem: its Achilles heel. People therefore expect it to be truthful, which is a tricky way of understanding photography. ” [www. showstudio. com/project/in_camera/session/nick_knight]
The line that reads ‘people therefore expect it to be truthful, which is a tricky way of understanding photography’ Somehow brings back to reality not always seeing is believing, who’s to say that Nick Knight set up some of these shots and used people that weren’t skinheads to portray the skinheads from that era. This image I have chosen is of a skinhead holding and smiling with a police woman. This could have been a quick street shot and Knight could have thought of the contrast of the two people, a typical skinhead who likes to fight and rebel against authority and an authoritative law-abiding policewoman.
The two opposites are both holding each other and smiling in a cheeky manner. Most of the skinhead images are taken in black and white anyway but I think it best suits this one the idea of Ying and Yang come to mind. From this image I think Nick Knight wanted to show the overall perception of what people should see of skinheads and that not everyone is bad, there is good and bad in every sub-culture, in any era that they appear. The book Knight says “opened a lot of doors for me, and closed many others. ” [Nick Knight, flower child photo district news. 11. 8 July 1991 p1]
Naomi Campbell for Yohji Yamamoto FW87 catalogue 1987 This image isn’t one of Nick Knight’s most famous images but it was taken at the same time as the other black and red images of Naomi Campbell for Yohji Yamamoto’s 1987 catalogue, they have gone on to be some of the most iconic in fashion history. This particular image really has a story about it and the whole shoot changed the way Nick Knight approached photography. This was a turning point in his career. Naomi Campbell was just 16 at the time, this was Nick Knight’s first experience working with her. Knight was shooting a catalogue for Yohji Yamamoto.
And his approach was; “I took apart the collection almost segmentally. I wanted to do just the colours and the forms. I didn’t want any narrative or any intervention from the model. I didn’t want the model to be any part of it in terms of her character” [The Independent on Sunday. Mar. 4. 2007] Then Naomi put on a tape, given to her by Prince of an album he hadn’t yet released. Knight recalls. “She moved up and down this catwalk to the music and the way she walked was absolutely amazing, incredible, really… later, I segmented her body into a head, a torso, limbs.
I was photographing the lower part of her body, pointing the camera from the waist down. And she was wearing this wonderful Yohji skirt and eating a green apple. She put the apple between her knees meaning I had to photograph some part of her, that some part of her humanity was present in that picture. ” [The Independent on Sunday Mar. 4. 2007] This shoot taught him a lesson about the interaction with models and the fact that they do have something to offer, He says, “Before that, I just wanted them to wear the clothes and to photograph the shapes. [The Independent on Sunday Mar. 4. 2007] That was how he used to approach it, and now has a vivid image of Naomi with the apple between her knees dancing to Prince that’s how it stays alive in his mind. This powerful memory in his mind is most probably one of the reasons for SHOWstudio no one else apart from a handful of people in the studio that day would of only seen and heard what happened and for the rest of us the story is fantasy. By looking at the image most people wouldn’t know that this is a 16 year old Naomi Campbell.
Naomi’s attitude that she was a young black model may of played on her self conscious, that she had to be the best and on top form to compete with the other competition from other models, as its not a secret in the fashion industry that black models barely get jobs on catwalks, in magazines. So being asked to work for a new photographer and Yohji Yamamoto she wanted to prove she was just as good as the rest. These photos were taken in the 80s when she was just 16 she ended up being one of the most highest paid models ever and the first black model to grace the covers of French Vogue. The fashion industry and the advertising industry are steeped in racism. You just have to look around at the number of black girls you see in ads – virtually nil. Among the main fashion brands, they are completely under-represented. Its shocking and atrocious” [The Independent on Sunday Apr. 27. 2008] Nick Knight has grown a relationship with Naomi Campbell and they have done many projects together over the years since they met he is very supportive of the black model industry.
From this single photo shoot for Yohji Yamamoto I think it helped shape the way Nick Knight portrays the future he always wants something different and to see things from someone else’s viewpoint, live what they want to see. I feel this image portrays more about the model that she wanted to feel part of the involvement in the process, not just a pretty face, using her young mind to involve the fact she had an apple and by placing it between her legs, the part where the photographer was focusing on. That would be her mark on the process. ‘Fashion-Able’, Aimee Mullins #2, Dazed & Confused, September 1998
Aimee Mullins is an athlete, model and an actress. She was born without fibula bones in both legs and has had synthetic legs since she was one. She has a very impressing CV, which includes titles such as President for the Woman’s Sports Foundation. She featured in a Nick Knight photo shoot story entitled ‘Fashion-able’ in 1998. She also has done Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 1999 show, for which she wore a pair of synthetic legs hand-carved from solid ash. The story shoot was done in 1998 for Dazed & Confused a cultural magazine. Back in the nineties he was one of the first fashion photographers to work with the amputee model for Dazed & Confused that was guest edited by Alexander McQueen, who later used her in his show. ’ [The Times Oct. 18. 2006] This was obviously unfamiliar and new, pushing the boundaries that any one is able for fashion whoever and whatever you look like, hence the title for the story ‘Fashion-able’. “I can manipulate images to suit any purpose. I could put my camera on the ground and use a wide-angled lens I could make you look 6ft tall.
Yet it’s funny, people still see photography as a truthful medium when it’s the opposite. ” [The Times Oct. 18. 2006] This is a very fairy-tale image Nick Knight has made her look like a doll with dirty legs. In the series of the four images this is image number 2. Image one she is standing, image two she is on the floor looking hopeless and her face gives the expression ‘silly me’ or ‘whoopsy daisy’ as if she has fallen down, the third image is of her lying flat on the floor tired and motionless, and the fourth image she is sitting up as if she has found the power to sit up again.
I think the photo shoot is a familiar story far from close to the models life experiences. She was born without legs so as a young girl when she should have been playing with dolls, she was struggling to use her aesthetic legs and falling down is a constant memory from her childhood. I feel she probably joked about this with Nick Knight that she was like a doll and this is how, this story shoot unfolded. Nick Knight probably wanted to share this with the young audience of the Dazed & Confused readers.
Around the time the image was taken it was 1998 and there was a lot of girl power going on with the Spice Girls and Courtney Love, a year after Princess Diana’s death. Maybe woman were looking to aspire to a powerful women and someone like Aimee Mullins is very inspiring at that moment in time. SHOWstudio: Tornado Monster ball – Lady Gaga 2009 (4 still images from the film) Lady Gaga asked Nick Knight and Ruth Hogan to create eight films to use as part of her on-stage performance as interludes on her Monster ball tour.
Building film into the architectonic feeling of the Monster Ball tour, these films explore iconic notions of fame, celebrity and life in an evolving metropolis. The concept and direction was from film director Ruth Hogben and Nick Knight, creative direction was from Matthew Williams and Haus of Gaga, and the styling was from Nicola Formichetti and Haus of Gaga. Out of all the film interludes I chose Tornado. A 2 minute 51 second film, this is no ordinary film its music, fashion and the future of how we see fashion and music combined as one piece of art.
It shows a smoke tornado blasting up in the middle of the black screen and changing different colour, Lady Gaga appears at 1. 08 in a stance on one leg she appears to be slowly jumping up and spinning, she appears spinning while the tornado is all colourful and glittery until, 2. 15 the music stops and the film is black and white with lady Gaga’s rotating image slowing down. Out of all the interlude films this one I feel has least efforts been made to make it, but I feel it depicts an image and feeling of life, how it can be such a tornado and rush and things past so quickly, time goes so quick without us realising.
Lady Gaga may not appear in the first half the film so maybe this is interoperating that before her fame she wanted to be in that celebrity culture, and before she knew it she was the centre of attention in that tornado lifestyle, so towards the end of the film her spinning starts to slow down. This film is on Youtube and SHOWstudio, so is seen by many people including everyone who attended Lady Gagas Monsterball tour. ‘These days Knight explains, “There is a part of fashion that promotes that glamour mixed with violence, the increasingly untouchable, the surreal. [The observer Ap. 13. 2003] This was taken from an article about Guy Bourdin a photographer who influenced a generation of photographers including Nick Knight. His work is very disturbing, strange but sexual. I can see this influence in Nick Knight’s media and especially in the work he has done for Lady Gaga. From analysising Nick Knight’s work you can see from the transition from image to film that he is a man of the future and his love for the Internet. He had a vision that no one else had and it’s proving beneficial.
Nick Knights work is nothing of the past maybe a little here and there but he is very much all about new ideas, change and not afraid to tackle the future. He recently done a high-end A/W 2012 fashion shoot called ‘Pussycat Pussycat’ He used the latest web tools Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr and capturing them on his iPhone. Amazing! He has also been given 12 short films from the Guy Boudin estate that will be shown on SHOWstudio, looking at Boudin from a more artistic point of view. “They’re seductive to look at but not easy to view” – Nick Knight [The Observer Apr 13 2003]
He has a great ability of seeing the potential of film evolve from still to moving. The creation of SHOWstudio came about when he thought his life was very interesting and exciting; he wanted everybody else to see the things that he was seeing. Such as the Naomi Campbell, Yohji Yamamoto moment, with the green apple. He goes on to explain ‘if only one could show the research that goes into a John Galliano collection for example – its missed. ’ [www. independent. co. uk] “Photography is about an understanding of the world around us. It’s a series of questions and no answers and that is just as it should be. ” The Independent Oct. 21. 2006] I’m very with this quote why should we know all the answers to a piece of beautiful work and pick at it and pull it to pieces we. Nick Knight is an important person in the world of fashion he has changed music videos and fashion shoots, without him we may not have fashion film. Knight’s aim with SHOWstudio is to show what’s going on during the creative process of designers. Other footage such as David Baileys wife, eating an egg seductively, – definitely untouchable. “What we’re trying to do is deal with issues and images that the magazines won’t touch. ” [Free Yohji Sept 2002 p216]
Bibliography Websites www. businessoffashion. com/2010/12/fashion-pioneers-nick-knight-says-heart-and-mind-are-the-key-to-fashion-imagemaking. html (Date accessed 24. 04. 2012) www. independent. co. uk/life-syle/fashion/features/the-fabulous-world-of-nick-knight-1809790. html (Date accessed 23. 04. 2012) Articles Barasch, Amy, and Holly Stuart Hughes. “Nick Knight, flower child” Photo district News July 1991: 1+. General OneFile. Web. 8 Mar. 2012 “Black is finally fashion at vogue. ” Independent on Sunday [London, England] 27 Apr. 2008:2. Info trac Full Text Newspaper Database Web 8 Mar. 2012 “Free Yohji? Uncensored). W Sept. 2002 216: General OneFile. Web 8 Mar. 2012 “Super Woman. ” Independent on Sunday [London, England] 4 Mar 2007: 12 Info Trac Full Text Newspaper Database Web 8 Mar 2012 “A Knight to celebrate; Interview. ” Times [London, Engalnd] 18 Oct. 2006: 9. InfoTrac Full Text Newspaper Database Web. 8 Mar 2012 “Guy Boudin Influence…” The Observer London England Apr 13 2003 p5 Info Trac Full Text Newspaper Database Web 8 Mar 2012 “The stuff of dreams” The Sunday Times STYLE magazine pg18 11. March 2014 Online Interviews www. showstudio. com/project/in_camera/session/nick_knight (Date accessed 24. 04. 2012
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