Azealiabanks, Rankin

Azealiabanks, Rankin

Behind the Lens with Rankin, the Bad Boy of Celebrity Photography

From the Queen of Pop to the Queen of England, the co-founder of 'Dazed & Confused' tells us the tales behind some of his most iconic images.

10/22/2021 2:05:00 AM

“I love so much of what AzealiaBanks does creatively. She’s quite unique because she has this confidence in her sexuality and her body, probably more than most people I’ve photographed.' - Rankin

From the Queen of Pop to the Queen of England, the co-founder of 'Dazed & Confused' tells us the tales behind some of his most iconic images.

are.What I loved about her was that she just let me do my thing. I have to be honest; there was a moment in the shoot where I was trying to do something that was a bit derivative of another photographer, and she gave me the confidence to just not do it. She was like, ‘You don’t need that shot, stick to what you’re doing.’ She kind of set me up in a way, because very few people have ever surpassed her collaborative approach.

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She was flying at this point. I’m not sure her personal life was flying, but creatively she was at a high. It’s one of my favorite shoots ever.”———Broke With Expensive Tastecover shoot, 2014“I love so much of what Azealia does creatively. I’m just so into her as a human being. Obviously, there’s stuff that she says that’s quite inflammatory sometimes, but the thing about her is that she just says it as she sees it. She sometimes makes mistakes with it, but she’s okay with that. I don’t agree with everything she says, and I think it gets her in trouble, but I have a lot of respect for people who speak their mind.

She’s quite unique because she has this confidence in her sexuality and her body, probably more than most people I’ve photographed. This image kind of embodies who she is, which is this very opinionated young woman who doesn’t have any fear and gets angry at people very quickly if she feels they are stepping into her territory—which, again, I think is fair. She’s got a voice; she’s not afraid to use it and she’s not afraid to offend people, which is rare in this day and age. If Azealia called me up tomorrow with an idea for a project, I’d be like, ‘Yeah definitely.’”

———Qmagazine, 1998“This was a really exciting one. I remember I was in Paris and I needed to get a motorbike taxi to the airport to fly to L.A. to shoot it. Madonna was on time. She came in and told me, ‘I chose you to photograph me because you make the people in your photos look like they’re having a laugh,’ which made me nervous because I felt like I had to be a stand-up comedian. I was more nervous meeting her than I was meeting the Queen. I had heard lots of things about her being quite tough, but I think it’s a testament to her that it’s her collaborators—stylists, make-up artists, producers—who are always her biggest allies.”

———Blendermagazine, 2003“At this point I wanted to photograph Britney just because of who she was. I thought she was a very lovely girl and really good at being photographed. She really understood what I was going for. The day was great, but I felt like she was a little bit in her own bubble, though not of her own making. The people around her were very protective of her, so I didn’t get to know her. I think in my job sometimes you don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives, and if I can’t get through that exterior, then maybe there’s something going on I shouldn’t know about. All I can say is that she was very quiet, and she was very protected.

The photo, I think, just sums her up. I wanted to make her a little bit more rock and roll, but still with a bubblegum element.”———Eminem2003“He and I didn’t necessarily click creatively. I don’t think this is the best Eminem picture, but I think it’s a pretty good Eminem picture. I really admire him; he’s a brilliant artist and he’s very good in front of the camera. He’s also really handsome—especially then. He’s such a good-looking guy.

He definitely didn’t have an attitude on set; I actually found him quite charming. I don’t think he was having a very good day that day, but he wasn’t rude or grumpy. He understood we all have a job to do, but if you know much about him, then you know he’s not really into that part of being famous. Some celebrities do—like Kylie [Minogue] used to love it, and Madonna enjoys part of it too. I don’t think he was necessarily excited to be doing a photoshoot, but he was still much more polite than I’ve had some people be. I just remember thinking, ‘What an insightful young man.’ He said some things that were very deep and meaningful, which is kind of what you hope and expect from someone like that.”

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———GQ Germany, 2001“Hugh has a very wicked sense of humor which I played to, sitting him next to the mannequin. He’s very aware of people’s perceptions of him, and he’s not scared of speaking out. What I loved about this picture is that there’s such a knowing sense of humor, like we’re being naughty. He knew what we were doing with the mannequin, and he enjoyed it. What was funny about this shoot is at the end of the day he told me he was just about to begin a new part [in 2002’s

About A Boy] and was off to get his hair cut for the film by the same person who cuts mine. I was like, ‘Fuck, why didn’t you get your haircut at the beginning of the day and I could have been the first to have the shots of your new look!’ He’s just funny. I adored him.”

———Dazed & Confused, 1995“I knew Jude from really early on, about 1994. He was a friend of both my ex and my girlfriend at the time, and I knew Sadie [Frost, Law’s ex-wife] quite well socially. We became quite good friends in the ’90s; we had kids the same age and we used to hang out quite a bit.

This was one of the first shoots I shot of a famous person, but he really wasn’t as famous then. I was just hanging out with him in New York because he was doing a theater production out there, and I said, ‘Why don’t we do some pictures?’ We just ran around New York with my girlfriend. We were outside a McDonald’s, and they used to have these almost pre-selfie era photo booths where you could get a photo with Ronald McDonald, so I suggested we get one to be funny because we were in America.

The thing I’ve thought about Jude since I met him is that he’s just got such an inquisitive and positive energy. He always looks on the bright side of things. I think he andDavid Bowieare really similar characters. They’re both really enthusiastic, incredibly interested in what you’re doing as a photographer, and super charming. They’re very similar in the way they pose, actually; they’re giving you so much in the way they pose. It’s very performative.”

———Dazed & Confused, 1998“Kate is Kate because she has this really innate sense of who she is, whilst also being able to give you exactly what you want. I’m not sure she would even agree with me, but she just knows her angles. When you photograph her it’s the most delightful experience, because she gives you so much.

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What I’ve always loved about Kate is that it’s just like hanging out with a mate. It was very easy. She didn’t wear her beauty or her talent heavily. She is justreallycool. Like how people thought Bowie was cool, Kate is just cool. She’s also got the most incredible laugh you’ve ever heard; it comes straight from her belly and it’s sort of disarming. She’s got such a wicked sense of humor and she’s just really fun to be around.”

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