Nick Knight and Sølve Sundsbø – The Master and his Apprentice

Posted on January 10 2014

We humans love to surround ourselves with rules. Sports, society, musical genres and even artforms have their set of rules. What is hiphop supposed to sound like? How are you supposed to behave in certain situations? And how is fashion photography supposed to look?

Then there are those who constantly break these rules, do things in their own way, and create something new, innovative and amazing. Something that would not have been possible by following the rules.

Nick Knight - The Master

After publishinNick Knight's 100 Portraits for i-D magazineg his first book of photographs, “Skinheads,” in 1982, Nick Knight caught the attention of i-D Magazine editor Terry Jones. For the magazine’s 5th anniversary, Jones wanted to shoot a series of 100 portraits, and he believed Nick Knight was the man for the job. The result was a stunning series of black and white portraits, the attention of art director Marc Ascoli, and the commissioning to shoot the 1986 catalogue of Yohji Yamamoto.

Nick Knight, who wasn’t rooted in fashion photography, chose to go his own way with the catalogue, creating a set of images that no one had seen the likes of. The catalogue still stands as a legendary piece of work, and considering it was shot is 1986, it is nothing less than extraordinary.

Nick Knight for Yohji Yamamoto

From that point, Nick Knight was a force to be reckoned with in fashion photography, and he has shot advertising and editorial projects for clients like Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and pretty much any other big name you can possible come up with.


Sølve Sundsbø - The Apprentice

Sølve Sundsbø arrived in London in 1995 to attend a short photography course at the London College of Printing. While studying, Sølve Sundsbø became the assistant of Nick Knight, something that would completely change his direction. During the apprenticeship, which lasted for four years, Nick Knight became a mentor for Sølve, helping him shape his artistic expression and professional direction.

In 1999 Sølve Sundsbø was voted best newcomer at the International Festival of Fashion in France, and he has then become a pioneer in pushing boundaries in fashion photography

Noomi Rapace by Solve Sundsbo

Noomi Rapace by Sølve Sundsbø for Dazed & Confused

Apprentice Becoming the Master?

For obvious reasons, Sølve Sundsbø’s work has always been compared to his master’s, and when trying to fill Nick Knight’s shoes, they must have felt immensely large. However, Sølve Sundsbø has pioneered techniques that have never before been used in fashion photography, including X-Rays, 3D-Printing, pyrotechnic, and airbrush illustrations. He is way ahead of his time, just like his mentor was, and still is.

People, and especially in the fashion industry, have strong conceptions of how and what things are supposed to be. What amount of retouch is acceptable? What kind of lighting are photographers supposed to use? And in what poses are models supposed to showcase the garments?

Thanks to people like Nick Knight and Sølve Sundsbø, you can take these rules and do whatever you want with them, because they’re useless!

Nick Knight for VOGUE UK

Nick Knight for VOGUE UK

Sølve Sundsbø for VOGUE China

Sølve Sundsbø for VOGUE China

Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen by Nick Knight

Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen by Nick Knight

Sølve Sundsbø for Alexander McQueen

Sølve Sundsbø for Alexander McQueen

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