In the early nineties a wave of creativity swept over Britain. Those were the years of Britart and Britpop, of Damien Hirst, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood, Blur, Radiohead, Oasis and Alexander McQueen. The initial signs of these cultural movements seemed to be ignored even by progressive magazines such as i-D and The Face. Being dissatisfied with the situation, the journalist Jefferson Hack and the recently graduated photographer Rankin started their own magazine: Dazed & Confused, a title that had been borrowed from a song by Led Zeppelin.
Praised for its innovative photography, style magazine Dazed & Confused became the professional magazine for anyone regarding him- or herself as a trendy and prominent person.
In one fell swoop Rankin (J.R. Waddell, 1966) established his name as a photographer making memorable portraits of celebrities from the world of pop music, fashion and film. His approach is distinctive: provocative, insolent, stirring and often erotic. In his eclectic visual language Rankin seeks the borderlines of decency. During his studies he has already made a series of nudes of a woman of 75. But he also made warm, respectful photographs of ‘real’ women for Dove’s advertising campaign.
Rankin made the subversive socially acceptable. The establishment – the class that he opposed with Dazed & Confused – embraced him and soon he had prominent people in front of his camera. On the occasion of her golden jubilee Rankin made a portrait of Queen Elizabeth that is now part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. And he also photographed Tony Blair.
In 1986 Rankin moved from Scotland to London. Those were the years of the emerging visual culture. Thanks to Dazed & Confused Rankin made a flying start in the world of fashion and celebrity photography. He regards himself as a portrait rather than a fashion photographer. “Most fashion photographers are not photographers. They love fashion more than photography, whereas I love photography more than fashion.” His studio in London is situated at Old Street, next to the editorial offices of Dazed & Confused. There, with a child-like curiosity, he plays an insolent, cheeky game with images and reality, with humour and eroticism.
©Pim Milo, 2006