As part of the LCF Inside the Industry series of events, fashion commentator Colin McDowell and Head of College Frances Corner, OBE were in conversation with Nick Knight.
It’s hard to imagine that Nick Knight gets anxious. However, the iconic fashion photographer yesterday admitted that taking someone’s photograph is “terrifying”. However, even more terrifying, Nick says, was the prospect of walking out (to rapturous applause, of course) in front of a room full of students at LCF.
The image-maker, and Director of SHOWstudio, covered a variety of topics – ranging from skinheads to digital photography and working with the late Alexander McQueen.
Nick started from the very beginning of his career; as prompted by Colin McDowell, he told students that he hadn’t always wanted to be a photographer. Nick initially studied medicine, however soon realised that he didn’t enjoy it. “The art students were a lot more interesting than the science students,” he revealed, laughing.
As a late teenager, Nick became obsessed with rejecting everything he had grown up with. Referring to his cult book, Skinhead, he declared that the look he adopted “was a good way of drawing attention to myself”.
Although a lot more reserved nowadays (his signature style is a single-breasted black suit), there is still an element of rebellion in his choices. “I don’t want to look like what people imagine a fashion photographer to look like,” he told Colin and Frances.
To Nick, fashion is a complex art form. “Fashion is accessible to all,” he proclaimed, however he is adamant that the fashion world is “much more exciting than what you’re being fed (through magazines and the media)”. Part of the reason why Nick started SHOWstudio was because he believed that what he saw in the fashion magazines was not as interesting as what he saw behind the scenes.
The audience were tweeting throughout the event using #insidefashion
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Nick is painstaking about what he chooses to do in his career. “I seek out people I love because otherwise there’s no point,” he said. One of the most exciting people he has worked with was para-athlete, Aimee Mullins. The fact that Nick was on unfamiliar ground with Aimee was just as exhilarating as working with legends such as McQueen and Galliano. “Everything I do, I do with the same commitment,” he stated. Talking of photography he said “Photography has never been about seeing, it is about feeling”. When asked by one student who his favourite subject was, he replied, “the best person I’ve photographed will always be the person I photograph next”.
Digital photography, he believes, is a positive democratisation of the image-making system. He is, however, forthright in declaring that analogue photography has no relevance in today’s landscape. “It’s not what we do or talk about anymore”.
Personable and unconventionally charming, Nick insists that he will never retire. But if he ever does, he knows who will be taking up his spot – you. “The future of fashion is with you guys; it’s in your hands”.
As if to prove his point, Nick whips out his iPhone to take a picture of the awe-inspired students sat in front of him. “Smile!” quips Colin.