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Monday, October 8, 2018

John Rankin Waddell

Distorted series, 2015, John Rankin Waddell
Like every other senior graduating from high school, I had a decision to make. What was I going to be when I grew up? I had a lifetime of fifty years (or more, I hope), what was I going to do with it? First, I could do as so many other young males in my class, simply choose not to make such a decision, and instead simply go job hunting. The year was 1963, the Kennedy Camelot era was at its height, the future looked bright, well-paying industrial jobs were plentiful. I could have chosen to leave my working life to chance. Or I could have chosen to pursue a four-year college degree in some field of study.

Jim Lane, Windsor High School,
Class of 1963
Having just graduated from four years of high school, I just couldn't face four more years of college. So, I chose a half-measure, two years at a Cincinnati business college study-ing to be an accountant. (I'd always gotten good grades in high school bookkeeping classes.) To make ends meet, I took a min-imum wage stock-boy job at a local department store. The most important thing I learned in those early education endeavors was that I didn't want to be in retailing or accounting. So, to dodge the draft, I joined the U.S. Air Force for four years, allowing me to grow up and choose a career for which I had both a liking and an aptitude. Those choices came down to two possibilities, journalism, and art. I chose art largely be-cause all forms of literary endeavors required a publisher for success. With painting, I was my own publisher. And since becoming a certified public school art instructor paid better than most art occupations at the time, I got my degree at Ohio University and for the next 26 years endured the joys, trials, and tribulations of bringing art to young people. Later, after retiring, I took up the second of my early career possibilities--writing.

Rankin, celebrity fashion photographer and wristwatch collector.
The British fashion photographer, John Rankin Waddell (above)was born in Glasgow in 1966. He has a similar story to tell. His working name is Rankin. He was brought up in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England. At the age of 21, while studying accounting at Brighton Polytechnic, the young man realized that his interests lay elsewhere and dropped out, taking up the study photography at London College of Printing. As John Rankin Waddell was entering his teenage years, Margaret Thatcher had just begun her stint as Britain’s longest-serving prime minister. Her conservative party was considered by many to be the enemy of the working class and her policies were widely condemned as both vindictive and punitive. In protest, young people turned to art, music and literature as a means of expressing their anger, transforming the Thatcher years into an explosion of cultural rebellion.

Cillian Murphy,
John Rankin Waddell
Although not overtly political in his youth, Rankin was swept up in this new wave of creativity. His artistic eureka moment occurred at the age of 21 when he first laid his hands on a friend’s camera. He knew that was what he wanted to do. Rankin first made his name in publishing, founding the groundbreaking monthly magazine Dazed & Confused with fellow classmate, Jefferson Hack in 1992. The magazine provided a platform for inno-vation for emerging stylists, designers, photographers and writers. The period-ical went on to forge a distinctive mark in the arts and publishing spheres, devel-oping a cult following as to forming and molding trends, while bringing some of the brightest lights in fashion to the foreground.

Hugh Grant, dazed and confused, Rankin
In 2001, Hack 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 editorials with groundbreaking design and style. More recently, the Dazed Group has established itself as an online authority, via, and Rankin celebrated Dazed's 20th anniversary, shooting 20 front covers of Dazed favorites and 20 inside covers of the next generation of talent, for the December 2011 issue.

Queen Elizabeth II of England. Rankin told her, "Just smile."
Tapping into the consciousness of the time with his intimate approach and playful sense of humor, Rankin became known for his portraiture of bands, artists, supermodels, and politicians. Having photographed everyone from the Queen of England (above) to the Queen of Pop, Rankin is often seen as a celebrity photographer. However, his plethora of campaigns and projects featuring "real women" marked him as a genuinely passionate portrait photographer, no matter who the subject. Always pursuing personal projects which pushed his limits, high impact charity projects, and groundbreaking commercial campaigns, Rankin has stood out for his creative fearlessness. His first major worldwide and award-winning campaign--Dove's 'Real Women'--epitomized his approach: to reveal the honesty of the connection and collaborative process between photographer and subject. Personal or commercial, Rankin's images have become part of contemporary iconography, evidence of his frankness and passion for all aspects of modern culture, as represented in the photographed image.

Michael Jackson, Rankin
Rankin has published over 30 books, and has regularly exhibits in galleries around the world, as well as his own in London. His museum-scale ex-hibition "Show Off" opened at NRW Dusseldorf in Septem-ber 2012, pulling in over 30,000 visitors in three months. Rankin has photo-graphed some of Hollywood’s most fam-ous people (left) and has shot some world-renowned advertising campaigns, including Nike, Umbro, Reebok, L’Oreal, Hugo Boss, Levi's, Longchamp, Aussi, Madonna for H&M, Dove, BMW, and Coca Cola.

Tumanni & Lawi, 2008,
John Rankin Waddell

The artist-photographer has created landmark ed-itorial and advertising campaigns. His body of work features some of the most celebrated publications, biggest brands and pioneering charities, including, Women's Aid, and Break-through Breast Cancer. Rankin's affiliation with charities has sent him travel the world, creating powerful campaigns both as a photographer and a director. With Oxfam, he vis-ited the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. In 2011, he hosted an Oxglam exhibition, featuring work from some of the world's most tal-ented emerging young photographers, and raising money for the charity.

Medusa, Damien Hirst
and John Rankin Waddell
Rankin has shot covers for Elle, German Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone and Wonderland. His work has always endeavored to question social norms and ideas of beauty. In late 2000, Rankin published the heteroclite quarterly, Rank, an experimental anti-fashion maga-zine celebrating the unconventional. Over the last few years, Rankin has frequently turned his hand to studies of photography through TV productions. Working with the BBC, he has featured in a number of seminal documentaries--The Seven Pho-tographs that Changed Fashion, South Africa in Pictures, Shooting the Stars, The Life Magazine Photographers, and most recently, an in-depth documentary into the modern approach to death in, Alive: In the Face of Death.

Schwarzenegger, Rankin 
As the archetypal modern photographer, Rankin’s industrious work ethic, versa-tility and tireless self-promotion have al-lowed him to thrive in today’s incredibly competitive photography industry. He has established himself as one of the most influential and far-reaching creat-ives working in Britain today. Rankin lives in London with his second wife, Tuuli, and son, Lyle.

Elton John, Rankin


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