As a fashion photographer, Nick Knight strives to challenge societal ideals of beauty by showcasing his subjects in a way that represents their unique traits. The image created by Knight alongside the designer Alexander McQueen and model/athlete Aimee Mullins directly targets our perceptions of beauty and disability and often, how they are unconnected within current ideologies in the fashion world. The image can also be viewed from a post-modern perspective regarding theories around the ‘genius’ author/artist, as the meaning behind the image is derived from the viewer and our experiences with disability, rather than placing credit solely on the artist for creating such meaning.
“Fashion photography has ceased to capture a timeless moment, and instead attempts to represent a moment in time”. [ i ] Shinkle states that there has been a move from classical beauty in fashion photography towards a new dialect where lifestyle and youth culture become the more important themes.[ i ] Knight’s image captures this idea of a new dialect within fashion photography by rejecting notions of ‘classical’ beauty and instead showcasing a ‘real’ woman whose lifestyle is not that of a conventional model. This in turn, encourages women to feel empowered by what they see, as opposed to feeling dissatisfied within themselves if they don’t meet the criteria of someone who is considered of ‘classical’ beauty.
Subsequently in fashion photography, a correlation can be made to post-modern ideals and theories surrounding the issues of the ‘genius’ author/artist. Craven describes Knight as “being at the forefront of innovation”, alluding to this idea that it is the author/artist himself who is the ‘genius’ and that without him we cannot derive meaning from the subject. [ ii ] However, political theorist Andrew Robinson states “Barthes vehemently opposes the view that authors consciously create masterpieces”, it is how the viewer interprets the subject that gives meaning to the topic. [ iii ]
[ i ] Shinkle, E. (2008) Fashion as photograph: viewing and reviewing images of fashion. London; New York : I.B Tauris. Ch.2. Kismaric, Susan & Respini, Eva. “Fashioning fiction in photography since 1990”, pp. 29-45.
[ ii ] Craven, J 2011, Nick Knight, viewed 23 August 2014, <http://www.vogue.co.uk/spy/biographies/nick-knight-biography>
[ iii ] Robinson, A 2011, Roland Barthes: Death of the Author, viewed 23 August 2014,