“It’s the absurdity of it all,” said British photographer Rankin about his latest project.
The photographer on Wednesday released a mockumentary, an 11-minute slice of humor available on Vimeo, that takes a bit of a jab at what goes on at photo shoots. The film’s release came complete with a parodied press release.
“I woke up one morning and I just felt there’s a real opportunity in fashion to do a fashion film comedy. It’s quite an interesting experiment really,” Rankin said of the film, titled “La Chaise Ironique.” “It’s just opening the curtain. It’s a bit like ‘Wizard of Oz,’ just showing people what goes on behind the scenes in a funny way.”
The film style is very much in the vein of “The Office” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Rankin said, with his character similar to himself in real life only “dialed up to 20.” The short piece offers a condensed look at what goes on behind the scenes at a photo shoot from the arrival of the model (not who Rankin’s character was expecting in the film), to hours spent in hair and makeup and on to the actual shoot with the star, the chair, because “chairs are really in at the moment,” his character deadpanned to the camera.
“Fashion is fun; it’s not like we’re talking about brain surgery here,” Rankin said. “We’re talking about clothes that make you feel good and I kind of love that part of it. It’s about experimenting and expressing yourself.”
He called the project a moment of self-reflection for himself and a fun experiment to see how people react within the industry, which he believes he views from an interesting vantage point as someone on the periphery.
“The funny thing to me is that I own four magazines that are considered fashion magazines,” he said. “I’ve grown up with the best fashion editors in the world, and I’ve worked with all these amazing stylists and photographers. I’m a photographer’s photographer. I do a bit of portraiture. I do a bit of advertising. I earn a living from fashion photography, but I don’t feel like I’m at the center of the industry. Through my own fear of not doing other stuff, I’ve always made a decision to broaden what I’m doing. I’ve always felt like a portrait photographer that took pictures of people in clothes.”
Rankin on Monday was in Los Angeles working with Heidi Klum on a commercial for a brand about which he had to remain tight-lipped and said he’d be in town until Sunday before returning to London.
The photographer is juggling a number of other projects, including a few more films he said he hopes to have out by the end of the year, helping other photographers in the U.K. and a book on his fashion photography. The working title, he said, is “I Told You I Wasn’t a Fashion Photographer.”
“It’s probably the biggest book I’ve ever worked on,” he said. “I’ve really had a lucky last five years. I still love what I do. I’m not slowing down and I’m just taking on more and more and more.”
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