Photographer Rankin talks inspiration, celebrities and death

March, 2013
Reading Time
4.5 mins
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Image © The Interviewee

Exclusive interview with the prolific photographer, Rankin

John Rankin Waddell aka Rankin is one of the world’s most prolific living photographers having worked with hundreds of subjects from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Zach Braff, which probably aren’t the two most noteworthy subjects in his portfolio but do lend themselves rather well to the A-Z thing for which I was going.

Daniel Craig

The truth is, having photographed Britney Spears, Calvin Klein, David Bowie, Eminem, Guy Ritchie, Heidi Klum, Jay-Z, Madonna, Quentin Tarantino, Ricky Gervais, The Rolling Stones, The Queen and Tony Blair it would be quicker to name the A-listers not on his portfolio, in fact, I suggest you take a look at the larger list here.

Ape to Gentleman


In this exclusive interview, I’ll be talking to Rankin about his career, inspirations, aspirations and death.

Less is More

When you first set out on the road to becoming a professional photographer, who was your greatest inspiration?

W Eugene Smith, I’d see a show of his at the Barbican, and I longed to be a documentary photographer. The sad reality was I just wasn’t very good at that, I was better one-on-one taking portraits. Plus my head was turned by bright lights and beautiful women!

“it’s a strange thing. Once you take a pic and put it out there – it kind of takes on a life of its own. It’s not really mine anymore”

Beauty - Rankin

Of which of your photographs are you most proud?

That’s too hard to answer; I’m really proud of quite a few. But it’s a strange thing. Once you take a pic and put it out there – it kind of takes on a life of its own. It’s not really mine anymore.

Rankin - James Corden

Special Project

Having worked with a huge list of celebrity subjects, is there anyone who is notable by their absence?

Yeah, I’d love to photograph Sean Penn. He’s somebody I’d just like to meet. And of course Obama!

The 14th 366 Award goes to Rankin for his outstanding creative work.

Tom Hardy by Rankin

Heidi Klum

Rankin was also enlisted alongside Rolf Harris, Alastair Campbell, Cherie Blair and David Starkey in Jamie Oliver’s Dream School project on Channel 4 which saw notable experts in their field try and teach a group of, particularly unruly children.

And finally, if you died and were reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?

haha – funny question, which I’ve just answered but in another context. “Which song would I want played at my funeral??
For both questions I think my answer is the same, Fire by Kasabian. I love that song and play it at least 3 times a week. I guess it just sums up how I feel about the world. Though I have no idea what the song is about! “I’m on Fire “resonates!! It’s how I feel when I’m taking photos. Cheesy but true!

Fire (2009)
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What began as a fun question to end an interview, has now become a wonderfully eclectic collaborative playlist by 161 people (and counting).
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