Thomas L. Knight is most recognized for his 35 mm black and white portraits in which he was able to grasp the essences and personality of the people in which he was photographing. To achieve such qualities, Knight revered the potential of photographing within natural or unimpeded environments. Knight traveled to a variety of environments, including Mexico and Europe. He was able to refine his skills in managing and navigating the differing patterns of light and composition in and around the people he photographed.
As shown in the way this collection encompasses light and the capturing of the essences of people he photographed, the viewer can see one of the many ways in which Knight's techniques fuse the field of photography with the field of fine art. During Knight's 50 years of producing photos, he exhibited within the National Museum of Art, Mexico City and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
Knight's complex techniques and compositions of portraiture were developed at an early age by photographing his family members and friends. By age twelve, he was published in Life magazine and was working the the Oakland Tribune. This early fascination with the techniques and possibilities of photography informed much of his later life experiences. Knight attended Humboldt State from 1946 to 1950, which eventually led him to teach and help develop a nuanced photography department at the University that strongly advocated photography as a fine art. The influence of Knight's photography and his compelling and compassionate pedagogy are still evident today in the photography department at HSU which is well known regionally and statewide.
Museum & Gallery Studies Class
We would like to sincerely thank the Estate of Thomas Knight, which donated this collection to the Reese Bullen permanent collection. We would also like to thank Katheryn R. Knight, the wife of Thomas L. Knight for interviews in the month of October 2006.