Rankin on His New Book of Beauty Photography

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Rankin Marco Antonio interview 2019
Heart for a Heart, British Heart Foundation, 2017© Rankin

Rankin speaks to AnOther about his latest publication, which celebrates his collaboration with make-up artist Marco Antonio

Rankin has become a household name. The photographer has spent the past three decades in the fashion industry and has during this time co-founded Dazed & Confused and founded Hunger, had his work featured in publications GQ, Vogue and Marie Claire, and photographed, among others, David Bowie, Kate Moss, Kathy Burke and the Queen. 

Impressive accomplishments aside, Rankin has always stressed the importance of collaboration and it’s in this spirit that his new book Marco Antonio X Rankin, which celebrates the partnership between the photographer and make-up artist Marco Antonio, was created. As Rankin tells AnOther, fashion and beauty photography is as much about what the creative team “brings to the party, as it is about the party itself”.

Rankin and Antonio are both known for pushing aesthetic boundaries and challenging our preconceptions of beauty. “Beauty has become such a powerful mode of expression,” Rankin says. “It’s affordable and everybody can practice it, which means that there are lots of brilliant movements springing up. I think today’s beauty wave – one that explores the ways we can use cosmetics to express ourselves – is a real moment in time.” In Marco Antonio X Rankin, the photographer presents collaborative highlights from both of their careers. This often includes images that draw on Antonio’s bright colour palette and Rankin’s signature sense of humour. As the photographer reminds us, some of the best creative projects come out of dialogues with people from different fields, such as make-up artistry, because these prompt us to stretch beyond our horizons.

One particularly striking photograph from the book depicts model Georgie Hobday staring at the camera with a white heart outlining her face. The image was part of a British Heart Foundation campaign spearheaded by Rankin that used social media to raise awareness around heart disease. “The idea was to either find or create heart-shaped images and then plaster them across social media to create awareness for the British Heart Foundation by getting as many likes as possible. This one of Georgie Hobday was one of the many ideas that we came up with,” Rankin says. “Marco is always so accurate in the execution of his work. And Georgie is possibly one of the best beauty models in the world. She has this fantastic face but she is also a lot of fun. For me, a good subject is all about personality and she has got a real attitude about her.”

This collaboration between Rankin and Antonio subverts our expectations of make-up and demonstrates its creative potential. Rather than enhance and beautify the model’s features, the make-up frames an otherwise bare-faced Hobday and emphasises her natural characteristics. Rankin highlights this precise point: “I liked this concept because I understood it to present the heart as something that reveals a truth. The mask exists only on the outside and that was what really drew me in. The make-up doesn’t hide anything, it reveals.”

Marco Antonio x Rankin is published in October, 2019 by Rankin.