John Rankin Waddell, the fashion photographer known as Rankin, can’t remember when he first met collaborator Andrew Gallimore. He and the makeup artist, he says, have “shot together pretty much every week” since that day, some years ago. Rankin, who has photographed Queen Elizabeth, Lindsay Lohan and Mick Jagger, has a new book out this month in the U.K. and next month in the U.S., titled Andrew Gallimore by Rankin. The hardcover book features 90 images, seven of which appear here for the first time in the U.S.
Andrew Gallimore by Rankin is the photographer's fourth book of makeup portraits. “I must like doing it,” says Rankin, 48, who is based in London. Rankin and Gallimore both came up with photo concepts and got ideas from the team at The Hunger, a biannual magazine that Rankin founded in 2011. (Also among the many magazines Rankin has launched is Dazed, which he founded with Jefferson Hack in 1992.) The resulting pictures show models covered in not only makeup, but also “butterflies, moths, gels, thread," Rankin says. "You name it, we stuck it on them."
Rankin first gained notoriety in the early 1990s for his magazines and as a fashion and portrait photographer. He's taken on a variety of projects, including ad campaigns for Nike and Swatch and covers for Rolling Stone, Esquire and GQ. He often focuses on celebrities, but many of his subjects have also been "real women," as was the case for a buzzed-about Dove project in 2005. He's published more than 30 books, and his compositions often take a quirky approach to high fashion.
"I want my images to surprise people, to make them feel something, to seduce them or make them think in some way," says Rankin.
The portraits in his new book reference the Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange and singer-songwriter Boy George. That last one, at least, “came from me wanting to do something that celebrated British talent,” he says. If those references seem disconnected, that's because they are; "The Rankin style is that there is no style," the photographer has said. As for choosing models, all but one of whom are female, Rankin says he was looking for something more than just beauty. “It sounds cliché, but I want the girls to have something in their eyes beneath the concept we’re trying,” he says. The models also needed patience. "Some of the best subjects are the ones that can sit still and let Andrew work his magic,” he says.
Readers will likely recognize at least one of Rankin’s models, even though in the book she’s covered in gold paint—singer and just-announced Grammy Awards nominee Jessie J. (Rankin has also photographed Jessie J for The Hunger and Elle UK.) “We’d shot this for her album. It was her idea, and we thought it went well with the collection,” he says.
Rankin believes there’s beauty in makeup's temporary quality. “They’re creations which I document, then they’re washed down the sink. It reminds me of what I love about photography, which is the element of creating memories,” he says.