IT TAKES ABOUT 30 SECONDS TO REALISE why Rankin is the country's most vital and brightly burning light in the world of photography. Even down a phone line. the energy exuded from the 34-year-old Glasgow- born snapper is considerable. In between tracing his Scots heritage and cataloguing recent visits to northern coastal villages. he finds breath to fill in the details about his fourth book in twelve months and his Scottish exhibiting debut.
‘I just love photography.‘ he says and listening to his Lahn-dahn drawl, you could be deceived into thinking he was a fully fledged bow-bells born boy. even if he desists from any Jamie Oliver—style pukka-isms. ‘I've brought four books out in a year and I got compared to Oasis and their fourth album in heat magazine because I brought out a fourth book they didn‘t like. I was like, “I don't give a shit. Just wait till you see the next one. mate".‘
A refreshing change from your average introverted arty type. Rankin is comicly blunt on his work and methods. When I ask him about his latest project Male Nudes and how it differed from his earlier female equivalent. he is hilariously candid. ‘lt‘s pretty straightforward. really: they‘ve got cocks and I don’t fancy them.‘ he laughs. ‘The way they act is very different and so my responses to them are very different. I'm still trying to work it out.‘
Born in Glasgow. Rankin decamped with his family to Yorkshire when he was nine only to wind up in sunny St Albans. deep in Hertfordshire where he spent his formative years and gained his accent.
He went to Luton to study accountancy
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only to drop out in favour of a photography degree course at London College Of Printing. In his final year he was motivated to drop out once more. feeling it wasn’t ‘appropriate‘ for tutors to judge his work (which included a self-portrait of his erect penis). He left without qualifications.
It was during his time at LCP that he hooked up with Jefferson Hack and together they started a student magazine called Untitled. This was the embryonic work that would lead the two in 1991 to start Dazed & Confused. a magazine predominantly dedicated to new talent and ideas. The magazine is now over ()0 issues old and Rankin has shot almost all its covers. His work can be seen in ads for Givenchy. Diesel and British Airways. and his stunning portraiture has earned him the reputation as photographer of choice to the stars. Consolidating his position as ‘David Bailey for a generation‘ are
'We all take drugs because on want to reduce the arriers and heighten the
his numerous books. of which CalaBrilatiun is the latest.
To accompany the book. Rankin is to hold his first ever Scottish exhibition at Glasgow's Street Level gallery. The Budweiser-sponsored exhibition (this explains the big ‘8‘ in the title) consists of selections from the accompanying book wherein he gives his interpretations of celebrity. ‘l was going through a period when l was looking retrospectively at my work.‘ he says. ‘When you do that. it settles you in what you‘re doing in your own head. You start to shape your career. thinking "Mmm. I‘m gonna
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do this or that". So I guess it was me trying to put a comma on my career. I liked having an opportunity to show that my take on “celebrity” was a little bit different from other people's.’
Rankin is within his rights to have definite views on the notion of celebrity. having shot hundreds of the world's most exciting and biggest stars in music. film and contemporary culture. Everyone from Madonna. Bono and David Bowie to Kate Moss. Quentin Tarantino and Minnie Driver are contained within (‘cchritaIinn‘s big glossy pages. But with a twist. These aren‘t the shots that graced covers of magazines. albums or film posters. These are the moments in-between the shots. the points where the subject may be blinking. looking away. grimacing. giggling. moments that. in our stiff and entrenched celebrity culture. we all too rarely see. Rankin has peeled away at the edifice of celebrity culture. in some cases summing up all we know in one innocent flash and. in others. revealing a side of a personality hitherto unexplored.
‘l‘m just about to put out another book called Rankin Works which has a lot of the more iconic images that a lot of people may have seen before.‘ he says. ‘But I'm the sort of photographer who captures a lot of shots in one session. ['1] have five or ten or twenty. We saw there was a gap between all of the people I wanted to put in the Rankin Works book and what I had shot. So there was potential to put something out which was a mixture of the more unusual shots I’ve done.’
One other noticeable feature is that well- established names are integrated with lesser- known faces. ‘I really wanted it to be a kind of comment on celebrity.‘ he explains. ‘The difference between famous and really. really famous is pretty minimal here. So many people are recognisable that the distinction between someone who's talented and someone