Photographer Rankin: How lockdown has changed me

Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
·2-min read

As one of the world’s most renowned celebrity photographers, Rankin was used to getting up close and personal with his subjects.

The celebrated snapper has won plaudits for his intimate portraits of high-profile figures including the Queen, Madonna and David Bowie.

However, the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting social distancing measures meant a new way of working was required.

Rankin, who admitted to being “freaked out” at the beginning of the lockdown, said he is learning to live in the post-Covid-19 world.

He told the PA news agency: “I’m a photographer so my job is essentially being one-on-one with somebody all the time, and imagine not doing that.

“So that was terrible initially but all I could keep thinking was, ‘I’m not as bad as so many people’, and I feel like I’ll be alright in the end. But it was scary.”

Rankin, who snapped portraits of frontline NHS workers who risked their lives during the pandemic, added: “Coming out (of lockdown) has been weird because I’m quite an intimate and touchy-feely guy, I want to be close and look in someone’s eyes and have that ability to connect with someone, so it’s strange.

“I felt so strange initially, the first day when I met people – what do you do? How do you communicate?

“I don’t even want to do the bumping elbows because… this is strange. But you get used to it and also you get really respectful of people’s personal space and for me, it’s been interesting not shooting people for three months.”

Rankin NHS portraits
Rankin taking a picture of a frontline NHS worker during the coronavirus crisis (Rankin Agency)

And Rankin revealed his enforced downtime has made him remember why he fell in love with photography.

He said: “I’ve actually taken to photographing flowers, which is sort of something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

“In a way, I’ve got my passion back for photography just for photography’s sake by doing that because there’s no rationale for me to do them apart from I want to take pictures.”