into the iconic
His works are controversial, and therefore interesting, sometimes attractively scandalous, which causes close attention from connoisseurs of photography, professionals and admirers. Some call them banal and vulgar, others brilliant.
You may not know the name, but you've definitely seen his work. Rankin is arguably Britain's most successful export to the fashion industry and one of the world's leading photographers.
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You probably won't be familiar with his face or his name, but Rankin, real name John Rankin Waddell, has left a mark on the history of fashion photography and magazines, becoming one of the most important British photographers.

Along with Jefferson Hack, he's the founder of Dazed and Confused Magazine, a cutting-edge publication, characterised by a unique and inimitable aesthetic, the result of Rankin's taste. The photographer is moreover the founder of Hunger, a biannual publication focusing on fashion and culture. Throughout his career, Rankin has shot the most famous celebs and top models of our time, as well as directed a number of music videos.
Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society
Co-awardee for Best Advertising – London Fashion Film Festival
Lifetime Achievement Award – Fashion Film Festival
British Photography Awards Fellowship
Despite the fact that the "Dazed & Confused" and "Hunger" founder doesn't think of himself as a fashion photographer.
Fashion photographer
Place of birth: Glasgow, Scotland
Date of birth:
28 April 1966
Full name:
John Rankin Waddell
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Rankin was born John Rankin Waddell in Glasgow. His family moved to North Yorkshire following a promotion for his dad, then on to St Albans, where Rankin spent his teenage years. Seeing his output and passion for capturing images of people, you might expect him to have been immersed in art and culture from a young age, but it wasn’t something his parents were interested in, he says.
“I didn’t take any photographs till I was about 20 not because I didn’t want to, I just didn’t have any connection to that type of stuff at all. My first camera was a Ricoh.”
At school, he was good at maths so accountancy was a logical path for him to follow and his parents were happy he was going to get a proper job. But they were dismayed when he dropped out of Brighton Polytechnic and went on a photography course. His dad didn’t speak to him for 18 months but they rebuilt their relationship when he had to return to live at home.
Me Me Me, 1988
Photograph: © Rankin
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2001, © Rankin
From Portraiture to Fashion © Rankin
“This shoot day was exceptional because it was at Buckingham Palace. I got a very short amount of time with her, about five minutes. I’d done my research and the main thing for me was I really wanted to get a shot of her smiling, so my focus was on that.”
The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, 2001
Queen Elizabeth II
Richard Ashcroft © Rankin
Cillian Murphy in Red Lights
Emma Watson © Rankin
Daniel Craig © Rankin
Michael Fassbender © Rankin
Jude Law © Rankin, 1995
Distorted, Hunger, Issue 8, 2015
Rankin has always seen photography as a way to stimulate conversation, something accessible for everybody to understand and love. He rejects pretension with straight up, humour driven concepts that poke fun at fashion and advertising, whilst working within the mediums.
first success
Rankin has published over forty photobooks including Female Nudes (1999), Rankin Male Nudes (2000), Breeding: A Study of Sexual Ambiguity (2004), and Beautiful (2007).
“I realised quickly that I was really good at making people feel comfortable when I was taking their photograph. People are embarrassed in photographs and they feel uncomfortable, so if you’re not fuelling that, you’re displacing it… bursting the bubble.
Rankin made his name in publishing, founding the seminal monthly magazine Dazed & Confused with Jefferson Hack in 1992. It provided a platform for innovation for emerging stylists, designers, photographers and writers.

In 2001, Jefferson and Rankin launched AnOther Magazine. With a focus on fashion, originality, and distinction. In response to the expanding menswear market, in 2005 AnOther Man was introduced, combining intelligent editorial with groundbreaking design and style.

In November 2011, Rankin returned to magazine publishing with a fresh offering - The Hunger. A biannual fashion, culture and lifestyle magazine, The Hunger and its associated Hunger TV website - a video-based digital platform featuring in-depth interviews, fashion films, blogs, updates, and previews - marked Rankin's return to the fashion world with an understanding that the future is not only printed but digital too.
Nathalie Emmanuel on the cover of Hunger Magazin
Dazed & Confused
For Rankin, inspiration is everywhere. Rankin loves photography and classic photographers. Rankin’s fascination with photography is nurtured by his commercial work, where he breaks taboos of genres and tries something different.
OF rankin’s book
During his career, a charismatic talanted photographer has published over forty photobooks. And definitely one of the most interesting and provocative of them is F*ck Y*u Rankin (2014).

Giving the finger, flipping the bird, up yours! For hundreds of years the middle finger has been the wordless insult of choice for people the world over – regardless of what phraseology you choose to accompany it. And it’s this age-old sign that Rankin has chosen to focus on in his provocative book.

Known for his tongue-in-cheek humour, Rankin is used to the odd insult, and has been goading celebrities into giving him the finger for years. But it was a particular shot he had taken of Heidi Klum flipping the bird, published in a book, then ripped off by enterprising T-Shirt manufacturers that made this image iconic and planted the seed for what was later to become F*ck Y*u.
Nicholas Hoult © Rankin
“The first time I saw someone wearing the t-shirt was when I was dropping my son off at school. The crazy point for me was going on holiday to Thailand, it felt like every other person was wearing one of my photos of Heidi giving me the finger!”
Heidi Klum © Rankin
Eva Green
Damian Lewis Cheryl
Katy Perry
Robert Downey Jr.
Rita Ora
Diana Athill
Juno Temple
Nicholas Hoult
The Rolling Stones
Harmony Korine
Terence Conran & Paolo Nutini
October 2014
Book name:
F*ck Y*u Rankin
Rupert Grint © Rankin
Gwendoline Christie © Rankin
The Rolling Stones © Rankin
Robert Sheehan © Rankin
Jamie Campbell Bower © Rankin
Andrea Riseborough © Rankin
Robbie Williams © Rankin
Rita Ora © Rankin
If photography is Rankin’s first love, then film is the lifelong relationship that he has developed and nurtured. This deep-rooted passion has led him to direct a feature film, tons of commercials, music videos, fashion films for some of the world’s biggest names.
In 2011 Rankin founded RANKIN FILM as a production company to represent him as a solo director of bespoke content for a multitude of platforms. Through RANKIN FILM, Rankin has directed dynamic and contemporary film projects for brands such as Nike, Neutrogena, L’Oreal, The British Fashion Council, Coco de Mer, and music videos for stars like Tinie Tempah, Rita Ora, and Kelis.

In recent years, Rankin has developed a strong sensorial style that has led him to move beyond fashion and beauty and into the genres of automotive, dance, and even confectionary content. This includes high profile brands such as Aston Martin, Mercedes, and Godiva.
Between 2002 and 2009, Rankin co-directed commercials, music videos and short films with Chris Cottam, including their debut feature film, The Lives of Saints. It won the Grand Jury prize at the Salento International Film Festival.
Rankin film video clips
John Rankin, Fashion photographer
Tears Run Dry
Messed Up Kids
Adore You
Real and True
Fred Astaire
Ghetto Baby
Close Enemies
Always in step with the prevailing cultural zeitgeist, Rankin is an acclaimed photographer whose commercial images create disruptive campaigns for top global brands and whose unmistakable personal work regularly ascends to iconic status.
His is synonymous with cutting-edge portraits, his lens capturing the cultural and political figures of our age. His images have adorned the covers of Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, GQ and Rolling Stone. He is equally well known for his advertising shots for the film, fashion and beauty industry.

He is equally well known for his advertising shots for the film, fashion and beauty industry. He has published magazines, more than 30 books, exhibited regularly in galleries around the world and has his own gallery in London. And his client list reads like a Who’s Who of pubic life in the UK and beyond. In short, he has a clear view from the topmost branches of the photography industry.

A tireless entrepreneur, publisher, filmmaker, and mentor, his work is published worldwide and is exhibited in galleries including MoMA, New York, and the Victoria & Albert museum, London.
magazin covers
the Iconic
“People won’t come to you, You need to reach them, and you’re competing with other ambitious individuals who also want what you want. Find your edge and run with it.”
John Rankin, Fashion photographer
Rankin lives in London with his wife, Tuuli Shipster, and their dogs
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All materials have been used only on a non-commercial basis
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