The new documentary Rock Prophecies is interesting and worth watching for several reasons. It avoids some of the usual cliches of music documentaries, where we only see and hear positive things about the protagonist. Instead, Robert Knight, a photographer who has taken photos of everyone from Aerosmith to ZZ Top and everyone in between, admits he sometimes questions what he's doing with his life.
The movie also avoids falling into the usual documentary trap where things are predictable. Instead, as I say in the interview, I think it's great that Knight spends part of the documentary taking care of his mom who has Alzheimer's, and trying to figure out if and when he needs to adjust his artistic integrity in order to help her welfare.
How did this movie come about?
Tim Kaiser, the film’s producer, asked for a meeting with me relating to a project about Ronnie Wood. After talking for several hours, he was interested in doing a film on me. This came as a great shock to me because it was not something I had ever thought of doing.
To what do you attribute having been able to work with such great musical figures as the Rolling Stones, BB King, Led Zeppelin? Luck?
I was single-minded in my goal to work with great artists. It was a matter of timing, yes, but I put myself where I needed to be which was San Francisco in 1968.
Was the plan always to have the documentary also delve into the problems you were having finding care for your sick mother or is that something that happened - and it was decided to become part of the story - as the film was being made? Personally I find that part quite moving.
The director, John Chester, saw my relationship with my mother as an important part of my story. I was resistant to including it in the film, but he talked me into it and promised it could be taken out later if I didn’t like their edit. Everyone who saw an early version of the film said that it should be left in the film. It is very personal, but I’m happy with how it was handled.
What have been the highs and lows in your career as a photographer?