I didn’t expect that to be the first thing Rankin would ever say to me, I didn’t really know what to expect going into ‘A Photography Masterclass with Rankin’ at The Guardian in London.
I was one of a lucky 100 people to get my hands on a ticket to meet the man that has shot pretty much everyone; name any celebrity and there’s a very high chance he has worked with them – he even managed to get the Queen to crack a smile. What is interesting though is that it’s apparent that he’s not actually interested in High Fashion photography, in fact it’s almost as if he’s had enough with it.
Looking back through his work there seems to be a consistent theme of ‘breaking the norm’; a photograph of his published in Dazed & Confused, Issue 15, shows a model taking a bite out of some chocolate, exposing bulldog clips on the back of her jacket – a traditional trick used by stylists to make clothes appear more ‘fitted’. “I was outing the fashion industry” – a strange stance to take given a good bulk of his career is based on the fashion industry, but a refreshing one.
He also goes on to talk about body dysmorphia amongst young people, the impact of social media on teenagers and safe sexual education, gender identification, the lack of balance between female and male nudity in the media and how these are all subjects on the ‘to do’ list going forward. What is surprising is that although I didn’t know what to expect, I wouldn’t have guessed it was going to be a guy this down to earth, nor someone so interested in exploring and trying to positively influence current social affairs.
What is also inspiring is his passion and drive to go against the grain; his father didn’t approve of him wanting to be a photographer, instead wanting him to be an accountant. This is typically something we all probably deal with at some point, and partly the reason why I’ve started this site. For his final coursework at college, he concealed a nude image within a tinned food can. This was a ‘fuck you’ to his then course tutor who seemingly had a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to teaching and photography. The image and contents of the can wouldn’t be revealed unless purchased first and then opened.
The evening ended with personally the most prominent piece of advice, “Don’t talk about it, do it”. If you are contemplating taking something up, be it a passion, an interest, a hobby, how will you know what will happen unless you go and do it? “The saddest thing..” Rankin goes on to say, “…is seeing and talking to people in the pub, saying they regret not doing ‘this’ or not doing ‘that’, continually talking about it and just not doing it.”.
If you haven’t heard of the Guardian Masterclasses, I recommend you check it out; they do an amazing job in connecting leaders in their respective fields with those who have an aspiration to try and build their knowledge and skill set. I’ve definitely come away with a few new ideas and some inspiration for my work going forward; thanks for reading and keep watching this space.