LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - With an eclectic portfolio of unconventional fashion shots, British photographer Rankin is known for challenging perceptions of beauty.
Having photographed supermodels, music stars and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the 52-year-old, whose full name is John Rankin Waddell, spoke to Reuters about his latest book “Unfashionable: 30 Years of Fashion Photography”, the fashion industry as well as the pros and cons of social media.
Below are excerpts of that interview.
Q: Why did you want to bring this book out now?
A: One of the reasons that I’ve done the book in reverse order is you start now where I am...and then you work your way back...you feel the thread of the work, that was one of the most exciting things for me...I was talking about things now that I was talking about 30 years ago and the difference is my ability to communicate those ideas is much better now.
Q: The title of your book is “Unfashionable”, why did you pick that?
A: I’ve always felt outside of the business, I’ve never felt like an insider and honestly I think a lot of people in fashion have been outsiders and feel like outsiders...People that feel like that...want to do things very differently...I couldn’t just take pretty pictures for pretty pictures sake.
Q: Is the fashion industry doing well when it comes to diversity? How does it treat models?
A: I think the industry has come a long way since I started and I think it’s brilliant because I’ve always felt that it should be about diversity but I’ve also felt that the people that are in front of the camera are very important. You can’t just treat them as livestock and I think that has completely changed...Social media has really empowered models and given them their own ability to have their own voice.
Q: What do you make of Instagram?
A: Initially...I loved the fact it was democratising photography and allowing people...to be able to use photography as a way of telling me what you’re up to.
...It pumps you with this thing that you want to use it but what’s it doing to people? We’ve got to question that.
If you’re 14, you’re doing bursts of images at arm’s length to find one image that you like...the validation that you’re trying to get from creating those images, from people that you become competitive with, then I think what that’s doing...to your self-worth and to who you are as a human being.
Q: What are your next muses?
A: I always just want to meet people. I’ve always had this idea of photographing everybody in the world. (Reporting by Sarah Mills; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Patrick Johnston)