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Back to reality

Who wouldn't want their picture taken by Rankin? Ooh, er, Angie Sammons

Written by . Published on July 25th 2009.


Back to reality

WE were in the bar.

“I'm supposed to be getting my picture taken by Rankin tomorrow,” I announced.

“Oh wow!” exclaimed Laura, the in-the-know PR lady. “You and Emma!”

Now, if I had doubts about tomorrow's appointment, they were suddenly being fixed in stone. Matched only by one thing: my expression.

After the make-up lady hooks me up to an intravenous Touche Eclat drip ('Nine hours sleep can make you look worse, you know') I am on

“Emma”, journo Emma Johnson, is Old Hall Street's own statuesque, waist-length blonde siren. She has legs so long that Hugh Frost launched a planning objection when he found out she had got a job in the building next to his West Tower.

What would Rankin, who snaps Kate Moss, Daniel Craig, and the world's uber-beautiful, the way other people have cups of tea, do with a 5ft 3in, 40-odd-year-old short arse after that?

2207Jack4lg
But that's the negative me. And as photographers don't do negatives any more (RIP Kodakchrome) I decided to go home and grab an unprecedented nine hours kip – well, just in case I changed my mind.

I went only after another PR bloke (maybe I should listen to them more) reminded me half an hour before I was due there, at the World Museum for Rankin Live, that I was being incredibly boring. T'was “chance of a lifetime”.

So I tiptoe in to the huge Charles Darwin gallery, flooded with natural and unnatural light, and I see another evolution taking place. The hoi-polloi are queuing up to be “Ranked”.

2207Rank2lgAngie Sammons, the
mobile phone version
There are computer screens everywhere and, if you look up on the wall, Rankin's images, taken only seconds ago, are continuously updated straight from camera to projector. There for all the world, museum, and any passer-by to see.

JR Waddell sounds like the author of epics set in colonial India. As “Rankin”, the middle name he's been known by since he was a child in Glasgow, he is one of the 21st century Britain's most celebrated portrait photographers.

He is not taking any bollocks from me, either, about being nervous. Which I bloody well am. But it helps that he is something of a 40-odd-year-old short arse himself.

“Look, just treat the camera as a friend,” he goes, as I survey the dinner plate sized lens like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Why? Why would I be scared?

Rankin Live is on the road, doing the rounds of just three cities, Liverpool, Manchester and London.

The idea is that David Bailey of his age - “I never considered myself a fashion photographer. Fashion photographers are obsessed with fashion. I take pictures of people” – does just that: snaps ordinary citizens who demonstrate a unique sense of style.

It is being filmed by Sky Arts and is a major undertaking, involving stacks of hair teasers and make-up artists.

“I got a call yesterday afternoon. They asked me did I want to work with Rankin,” says one Manchester lass who normally powders BBC newscasters. “I'm like, 'er, yeah, let me think about it.' Did I bugger. Are you kidding?”.

2207Rank5lg
Another tells me: “If this were a real fashion job, and I was able to put the fact that I'd done just one Rankin shoot on my CV, I would never have to look for work again.”

While the Bug House next door crawls with its own life, here runners and assistants teem and scurry, 25 in Rankin's total staff, such as a girl with a good photography degree whose job, for today, is to just sit and mind that camera, on her knee, and not move, while the boss goes and checks out the shots with his latest subject.

These are all people who have applied in advance and have been whittled down to appear before his not unsizeable Nikon. All the shots will go into an exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery in London's East End, and to take a print home you have to hand over a meagre £50 donation to his cause, Oxfam.

You don't have to be a star, baby, to be in this show and at the moment it's an all-singing all dancing affair as one gorgeous curly girlie is encouraged to belt out songs from the shows as the shutter clicks away.

After the make-up lady hooks me up to an intravenous Touche Eclat drip (“Nine hours sleep can make you look worse, you know”), I am on.

”Take a seat,” offers the main man, and I realise my shaky leggy shortcomings are off the agenda. Rankin points the camera right in my face.

“Look deep into the lens,” he commands like a hypnotist and the fear flees. “Bit of a smile with the eyes.” “Wind machines, on the hair.” “One over there, another one at the back.” “No, bit to the left.” “Sit up straight.” “Two umbrellas!” “Yes, there, and there!”

What a picture.

Then he stops. “That's a good fringe,” he opines, studying nature's botox. But, hmm, he looks at the shots on the computer. As does everyone in the gallery.



“No, you need eyeliner, lots of dark eyeliner. Let's bring out the eyes.” he snaps unblinkingly. The make-up girls swoop at me with black crayons.

And so they do it all again. The entire shoot taking two minutes.

“I've been Ranked,” says the badge they give you.

It's Lily Allen's turn tomorrow. Back to another world.

Of course I'm glad I did it, and for all sorts of reasons. It's always fascinating to watch somebody working at the top of their game, and says everything about this one's ability to transform any subject into anything they want them to be. With apparently zero effort.

Up to a point anyway. Does the great Kate look like a sack of spanners before she gets the Rankin treatment? I doubt it.

For as she and every stunning six footer model he's immortalised by now must know: good stuff comes in small packages.

Eh, Ranks?

Angie Sammons

 

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younger-than-twiggy-anywayJuly 22nd 2009.

For the record, Kate Moss is shorter than I am. I am 5"7". Word is she is 5'6". Twiggy is also 5'6". So yes, good stuff comes in small packages...

record?July 22nd 2009.

Just for the record, Katie Moss (grrr! how gorge is she!!!) is a size 10.Most of the women in this country dont even know someone who is a size 10!

MossmanJuly 22nd 2009.

Kate is still one of the most beautiful and sexy women ever. She is easily comparable to Marilyn Monroe, Lady Di, or even Posh Becks.Talented girl too by the look of her snaps.

PoloJuly 22nd 2009.

Who gives a shiney one about Kate Moss?The picture of Angie is beautiful and the experience must have been brilliant.

TebbittJuly 22nd 2009.

Those chaps on the computers look like clones. Does Rankin "Photoshop" his assistants when he needs a new one, to save on National Insurance?

ViennaJuly 22nd 2009.

I wish F. Stopp could stop himself sometimes...

MossmanJuly 22nd 2009.

Kate is still one of the most beautiful and sexy women ever. She is easily comparable to Marilyn Monroe, Lady Di, or even Posh Becks.Talented girl too by the look of her snaps.

F. StoppJuly 22nd 2009.

Kate Moss is a shambling old boot. She got the job because she looked much more like a rickets-stricken Big Issue seller than the other so-called 'supermodels' did at the time.

record?July 22nd 2009.

Just for the record, Katie Moss (grrr! how gorge is she!!!) is a size 10.Most of the women in this country dont even know someone who is a size 10!

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