British born, Los Angeles based photographer Phil Knott began shooting professionally in 1997, jumpstarting his career in London. Over the past three decades, he’s captured some of the most iconic names in music. From A$AP Rocky’s first album cover, to Justin Timberlake’s Vibe cover, Knott has taken part in his fair share of legendary moments, documenting the humanity of some of our culture’s greatest icons through his portrait work. His photographic journey has taken him to New York, and currently Los Angeles, allowing him to cross paths with genius-level talent.
In September, Knott exhibited a collection of portraits at Mixduse Collective in Brooklyn at a show called Heroes & Legends that featured just that. The solo exhibition included mainstays of the golden era of New York hip-hop including: JAY-Z, Guru, RZA, Nas, and more. He’s following that up with his recent show called I Love You Amy that features 20 pre-celebrity photos of Amy Winehouse that opened this past Thursday.
After being connected through a mutual friend, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about Knott’s journey and craft. Once the background stuff was out of the way, he went into detail about his approach to portraiture, how location plays into his output, Instagram’s effect on commercial photography, and more.
Whether you’re a casual photographer or pursuing a career, there’s something to be learned from Knott’s below account of his years spent behind the lens.