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  • Writer's pictureSasha Huang

Celebrating a Lifetime of Capturing Moments: Rankin – Zeitsprünge (Leaps in time)


John Rankin Waddel, Rankin, is a British photographer of creative luminary whose lens has captured the looks and essence of iconic figures from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, fashion supermodels Kate Moss and Kendall Jenner, Hollywood celebrities Daniel Craig and Anya Taylor Joy to music legends The Rolling Stones and Madonna.

His prolific career extends beyond photography, encompassing publishing and film. It entails more than music videos for Miley Cyrus and Rita Ora, but also luxury brand campaigns for Diesel and Rolls Royce. He and his talented production team, Rankin, continue solidifying their place as the multi-talented visionary who has left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape.

In the world of imagery, Rankin's name resonates with innovation, setting trends, and pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling. Just earlier this year, the exhibition Rankin – Zeitsprünge (Leaps in time) was held at the Ernst Leitz Museum in Germany from May 26 to September 27, 2023. It is a mesmerising collection of photographs that represents the photographer's legendary journey from the 1990s to the 2000s.

Here, the industry's household figure, Rankin, shares with us the captivating story of a photographer whose creation has caught many eyes and told many stories.

Bird Song, Hunger, Issue 11, 2016 © Rankin

1. The most important thing about being a photographer is that you love light and you love your subjects.

If you love light, you learn how to bend it to your will. If you love your subject, you will always make the most of them.

2. I draw inspiration from the unfiltered human experience, the beauty of imperfection, and the constant evolution of culture.

Music, art, and the everyday moments of life also fuel my creative hunger.

Scream, Hunger, Issue 11, 2016 © Rankin

3. What do you think makes for a good photograph?

A good photograph resonates on a visceral level, stirring emotions and sparking a connection. Beyond technical prowess, it's about capturing a moment that communicates a story or a feeling. At it’s best it can make you think and feel something at the same time.

"A good photograph resonates on a visceral level, stirring emotions and sparking a connection."

- Rankin, Photographer

Heidi Klum, Italian GQ, 2003 © Rankin

4. What do you love the most about what you do?

What I adore the most about my job is the ability to communicate without words. The collaborative process of bringing ideas to life, and the opportunity to challenge perspectives.

5. What do you love the most about life?

Life's unpredictability is incredible and the human condition within it is what gets me up every day.

Right Way Up Wrong Way Down, Hunger, Issue 9, 2015 © Rankin

6. How would you describe your journey in publishing and photography?

My journey in publishing and photography has been a kaleidoscope of experimentation. From starting out in the '90s with a DIY approach to carving out a niche and creating iconic images, it's been a crazy ride of growth and change.

7. Having started your career in the early nineties, how have you seen the industry change?

The industry has transformed dramatically since the '90s, largely due to technology and the internet. It's become more inclusive, with emerging talents finding platforms to showcase their work globally. It’s also become far too easy to take pictures, so now everyone including your Grandma can do it. We need to respect the medium a bit more!

Ayami Nishimura by Rankin, Rankin Publishing, 2012 © Rankin

"Life's unpredictability is incredible and the human condition within it is what gets me up every day."

- Rankin, Photographer

Vivienne Westwood, POP, 2002 © Rankin

8. What advice would you give to yourself at the start of your career?

To my younger self, I'd advise being a bit nicer to people. I was a bit of a dick when I was younger and it was all based on fear!

9. Your up-coming exhibition Rankin – Zeitsprünge (Leaps in time) will be presented from 26th May to 27th September 2023. Can you share with us a little insight to preparation process?

The preparation for "Rankin – Zeitsprünge (Leaps in Time)” involved curating a narrative that spans my career. Finding threads of themes and style that connect my old and new work through time.

Ewan McGregor, Arena, 2003 © Rankin

10. You’ve photographed some of the world’s most famous faces. What are some of your most memorable moments?

Photographing people I really admire has given me a front row seat on culture and society. It really is a dream come true and I pinch myself every day! Photographing the Queen, has to be a highlight though.


All imagery is provided by The Rankin Group.

Website: | Email: | Instagram: @rankinarchive | Twitter: @rankinphoto | Facebook: @RankinPhotographyLtd


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