Nicholas Knight OBE

Nick Knight

Areas of Interest


Honorary Award

Honorary Master of Arts, 2000


Born in 1958, Nicholas Knight is a commercial photographer, Director of SHOWstudio and one of the most innovative image makers in his field. He studied photography at Bournemouth and Poole College and in 1982 published his first book, Skinheads. He soon went on to work for a list of clients that included Calvin Klein, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. He has also shot record covers for Paul Weller, Björk and David Bowie. In addition to Skinheads, he has also published NicKnight (1994), Flora (1997), and Nick Knight (2009). Nicholas' work has been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum and The Photographers Gallery. He has been an outspoken critic of discrimination against those who don't conform to the photographic industry's particular standards, and has pioneered the inclusion of disabled and 'outsize' fashion models.

In 2000 Nicholas Knight was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts, and was awarded an OBE in 2010.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Master of Arts Degree to Nicholas David Gordon Knight, international commercial and fashion photographer extraordinaire.

Today we honour Nicholas, who is an alumnus of Huntingdon Regional College (one of the Partner Colleges of APU), and who went on to study photography at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design, from where he graduated with distinction.

However, surrounded by scientists at home (brother- chemist, mother- physiotherapist, father- occupational psychologist in the RAF) he had started his secondary education by reading Human Biology at London University, before recognizing that for true fulfilment (though perhaps not economic security) he should follow his first love - photography. Though born in London, he later moved with his parents to Cambridgeshire, but for much of his early life he was abroad in a wide selection of the world's capital cities, following the posting of his father into the diplomatic service. His parents still live locally, in St Ives.

To describe his outstandingly successful career to date, as comprehensive, would be an understatement. It has proven to be a most fruitful adventure with life and the camera!

Three books have been published about his work: in 1982, Omnibus Press published Skinheads, which subsequently attracted the Designers and Art Directors Award for the "Best Book Cover" of 1985. Then in 1994, publishers Schirmer Mosel published a retrospective collection of twelve years of Nick's work under the title of Nicknight; and in the Autumn of 1997, the same publisher issued Flora, a series of flower pictures taken at the Natural History Museum's herbarium.

He was appointed Commissioning Picture Editor for I-D Magazine, early in his career, which led to him receiving the 1986 Magazine Publishing Award for a fashion story in ID Magazine entitled Back to School. His international fashion and advertising clients now include well-known names like the fashion houses Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent and Shisjeido, along with clothes designers Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and Yohji Yamamoto, besides Levis and the Royal Ballet.

Nick has also worked freelance for such international magazines as Vogue and the Sunday Times, plus Dazed & Confused and The Face and photographed record covers for pop stars like David Bowie, George Michael and Paul Weller, as well as Bjork, Seal, Sundays, Massive Attack and Suede.

He has also been honoured by being nominated Kodak (UK) Photographer of the Year, in both 1985 and 1987. This may well have played a role in his being invited to contribute to such a remarkably large number of photographic exhibitions in different parts of the world during the last ten years, with exotic and provocative titles like: Ils Annoncent La Couleur, Festival de la Photo de Mode, Vanites, Plant Power, Jam, Little Boxes, Look at me - Fashion Photography, Powerhause:uk, The Oriental Curiosity, Handy Shorts, Taboo, No Sex Please Were British and Silver & Syrup and at most interesting venues in Barcelona, Paris, Florence, Monaco, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and of course London, at the Photographers Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, The Barbican, Hayward Gallery and the Lux Cinema.

Yet, surrounded by all this success he still retained his personal integrity. He has been controversial. Indeed, he has played a pivotal role in educating the fashion photography profession out of its inherent discrimination against those who do not conform to the created 'norm' of being a stick man or woman and, through this, has been the inspiration for a certain internationally-known departmental store's most recent advertising bye-line "if you are not average, you are normal" say no more! Further, he also uses disabled models on fashion shoots.

This outstanding alumnus has not sought publicity but, nevertheless, has achieved a very high public profile and is an inspiration to whole swathes of visual arts students that their progress is limited only by their self perception.

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Mr Nicholas David Gordon Knight, an Honorary Master of Arts degree of this University."