In this new photographic retrospective, Dazed and Confused co-founder, Rankin selects his personal favourites from a career spanning 20 years. From shooting celebrity personalities like Beth Ditto and public figures such as the Queen to experimental brand work, MORE takes a unique look at the journey Rankin’s career has taken him on so far. The comprehensive overview of his pioneering and challenging work showcases the photographer’s most iconic shots. Rankin has mastered the balance between carefully constructed scenes and spontaneity. His photos aim to reveal the real person hiding behind his famous subjects, showing them in an unconventional way and tearing down façades. Rankin garners “something new about even the most familiar faces” he photographs says William Boyd, who wrote the foreword to MORE.
The book, dedicated to Rankin’s wife, features a long interview between Michael Holden and the photographer and is also available as a limited Collector’s Edition of 100 copies with the title hand-written on the jacket by Rankin himself, presented in a clamshell box. Ahead of MORE’s launch through Teneues this month, Dazed spoke to Rankin about his admiration for Damien Hirst, the Instagram generation and how his favourite shot featuring Heidi Klum telling us to fuck off didn’t make him a rich man.
Dazed Digital: Tell us a bit about the central themes and subjects of this collection?
Rankin: I guess MORE is like a greatest personal hits - it’s all of my photographic favourites. It’s a really mixed bag. The book itself is dedicated to my wife, Tuuli, so there’s a section for her and she appears on the cover. The other images are loosely divided into sections but simply those photographs that I like most. It’s been great to look back on my work – it’s been very therapeutic and has made me reassess my approach going forward.
DD: Can you tell us a bit more about the myths project you collaborated with Damien Hirst on? How did that come about and what were the main inspirations behind it?
Rankin: In my mind Damien is a genius and I’d walk over hot coals to work with him – at any time. This project came about because I think he wanted to help myself and Dani (the model) out. He’s very generous with his ideas and time and suggested we work together. Dani had been modelling some sculptures for him based on myths of the ancient world. I am fascinated by myths and we all decided to explore some of those ideas in photos.Like all good collaborations it was a little complicated, but fun.
As long as people realise Instagram doesn’t make them a photographer but an instagrammer, then I’m cool with it
DD: You've spoken in the past about being very into staged photographs, what do you make of the snap-happy Instagram generation? Is it devaluing photography?
Rankin: I love Instagram. I use it all the time. If it gets people talking about photography then I figure it can only be a good thing. As long as people realise it doesn’t make them a photographer but an instagrammer, then I’m cool with it.
DD: You've said that you use humour to get the most out of the people you photograph. Why do you think that works so well?
Rankin: It’s not like I think I’m funny. I find things funny and if you can laugh at yourself or the situation it makes people comfortable.
DD: You also talk about your portraits being 'anti-celebrity', are you trying to humanise your subjects more?
Rankin: Yeah I’m not sure that’s exactly the expression I’d use but that is the effect. To treat subjects as normally as you can in an abnormal situation.
DD: Do you have a favourite portrait from the collection?
Rankin: That’s hard as I feel a connection with all of them, but I do love the shot of Heidi Klum giving me the finger. It must have adorned at least a million t-shirts in Thailand and I didn’t get a penny!
DD: Who has surprised you the most out of all the people photographed in this collection?
Rankin: Probably The Queen. She surprised me because she was so funny – as in humorous!
More is released by Teneues this month.
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