Photographer Nick Knight tells how he is sitting on a 30-year archive of unseen celebrity footage

May 24, 2016


Fashion photographer Nick Knight signs a book for a fan at Photo London, Somerset House [© C Cheesman]

Knight has stashed the treasured footage in a ‘safe’ art storage lock-up facility.

‘I have 30 years of fantastic fly-on-the wall stuff, because, of course, cameras have microphones on them as well, so people would go and stand next to [them] and gossip, talk and say all those things they want to do,’ Knight said at Photo London last week.

He quipped: ‘So, my retirement’s sorted.’

Knight said he had started filming his photo shoots in the late 1980s when it occurred to him that, otherwise, it would only ever be the few people present in the studio who would get to witness the sessions.

He said he had asked his subjects for permission to be filmed – and almost all of them agreed.

Speaking at an ‘in conversation’ event with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, an art curator, critic and historian, Knight explained: ‘I thought if I just put a camera on a tripod and filmed it, then at least, for posterity, it would be kept.

He added: ‘Since around 1989, I have filmed every one of my shoots. Now, I film with many more than just one camera, but at the time it was just one camera.

‘I’d say to my sitters and to my team: “Look, there’s a camera on a tripod. Does anyone mind?” And they would go, “No, I don’t care,” – and we [then] all get on with the day.’

Knight, who is also a film director, said his assistants would change the tape when it ran out, every two hours.

According to Knight, the only subjects who asked not to be filmed were David Bowie and Twiggy.

Knight said the archive was partly behind his decision to launch fashion website SHOWstudio (, in 2000.