Black+White Photography

Ready for your close-up?

RankinLive offers members of the public the opportunity to have their portrait taken by one of Britain’s most successful photographers. Claire Blow recently caught up with Rankin – and got a taste of the action.
Image: ©Emma Wakley, RankinLive 2023 © Rankin

Rankin is known for his vibrant shots of the world’s most famous faces, from Kate Moss and Daniel Craig to the Rolling Stones and Madonna. He has even photographed Queen Elizabeth II. But for RankinLive, which has been running for 15 years, he invites members of the public to have their portraits taken. At the inaugural event in London, in 2009, he shot more than 1,800 people, and he has since rolled it out in six cities around the world. ‘Everyone has the right to experience and enjoy photography,’ goes the tagline, although it comes at a price – the photo shoot costs £500.

In the run-up to Christmas 2023, RankinLive took over 47 Carnaby Street in the heart of Soho. Rankin and his team transformed the shop into a bustling hub of creativity, the studio space set up right in the window, offering passers-by a glimpse into a world that is often hidden from view.

I was lucky to visit at the end of November to experience one of Rankin’s fast-paced shoots first-hand. In the space of just 15 minutes, I’d had my pictures taken, selected my favourite shot after seeing them displayed on-screen, and been presented with a 10x8in print of it to take home. The package also includes a digital image optimised for social media and a PDF containing up to six other favourite images from the shoot, which can be purchased as digital files or prints.

After the shoot I spoke to Rankin about RankinLive and its long-running success…


Read our interview with Rankin in issue 287 of B+W.

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