Nick Knight’s images have indubitably had a profound effect on fashion. He has pushed photography’s boundaries with his sharp eye and cultural awareness from his early days of snapping skinheads to founding SHOWstudio.
Yes, a determinant in shaping London as the style capital with his ground-breaking website, but more than that, Knight is at the forefront of democratising photography and re-establishing its place in our social-media saturated lives. Equally so, as a child of scientists, he is oh too familiar with meticulous work - which is visible in his latest series, 'Flora'. For sale this month at Paddle8, 'Flora' delves into the Natural History Museum’s herbarium archives to map natures history. While 'Flora' wields references from Enlightenment photography to the sweeping lines of colour in abstract art his Instagram images are a different story. Also on sale at Paddle8, they are a fluid and spontaneous chronicle of his life. Dazed Digital spoke to the genre-jumping prolific Nick Knight about his work and his thoughts on photography today.
Dazed Digital: You've forged a career that has constantly challenged accepted notions of beauty, what do you consider makes something beautiful?
Nick Knight: Beauty isn't universal. My perception of beauty changes depending on how I feel inside.
DD: Has working with Instagram affected the way you approach other forms of photography?
NK: Well, I find working with Instagram because of its spontaneity, so refreshing. Sometimes I want to work in a very considered and meticulous way but sometimes I don't and Instagram affords me that little bit of personal freedom. I am unencumbered. It's reignited a love for photography.
And it puts me directly in contact with the very large audiences of Weibo, Twitter, Facebook, SHOWstudio, Tumblr, and Instagram. I am getting through to them all instantly, and they, in turn, have all elected to see my photographs. It's their feedback that makes it so exciting.
DD: In a past interview you mentioned that you come from a family of scientists and that you took a scientific approach to your Flora project, can you explain this further?
NK: By scientific, I meant to imply that I took an analytical approach. There's a certain coolness and removed approach to science that I try to apply to all my photography. I try to stand back and understand and evaluate what I am seeing so that I can see the truth and what is actually there. It's an attempt to approach things with an open mind.
DD: From launching SHOWstudio to your work with Instagram, your career has been the pulse for forward-thinking photography and image-making, what do you think will be the next big change in the industry?
NK: We are now at a tipping point. Many things are about to change. From the desk top printing of real objects via 3D scanning, to the ongoing emergence of Fashion Film and SHOWstudio's most recent launch of a live critical forum during the fashion shows, technology continues to change the way we communicate.
DD: Do you think Instagram, smartphones and digital cameras have changed the definition of photography from printed imagery to now include ephemeral pixels?
NK: I think we have to forget and put aside the term photography. It no longer applies to the image we see and consume. We need a new term and I consider myself an image maker.