January 26th, 2016
We are ridiculously excited to announce a new Judge for our new-look Warpaint Championships. For London 2016, we have a brand new photographic category #InstaWarpaint and to judge we have none other than the critically acclaimed photographer, Rankin. The winner will receive one of Rankin’s photography books, a Warpaint trophy and a certificate, and the winning image will be used in Warpaint Magazine.
If you love make-up, have a creative streak and adore taking pictures of your work, then this competition will put your work in front of one of the leading photographers of a generation. Rankin has been creating landmark editorial and advertising campaigns for the last 20 years. His body of work features some of the most celebrated publications, biggest brands and pioneering charities, including Nike, Swatch, Dove, Pantene, and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. He has shot covers for Elle, German Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone and Wonderland to name just a few. Famed for his collaborative collections with great models and make-up artists, Rankin’s most recent make-up related work was showcased in the windows of Debenhams in London’s Oxford Street last Summer in the advertising campaign for the UK relaunch of French MUA-favourite brand, Make Up For Ever. We grabbed a few minutes with the man himself to find out just why he loves working with make-up artists so much and his tips for the entrants of our competition.
WP: What will you be looking for in the photographs entered into our #InstaWarpaint photographic category?
R: In judging the Warpaint photo competition, I’ll be looking for originality, experimentation, attention to detail and a sense of fun.
WP: What has drawn you to work with make-up and make-up artists so closely?
R: Well I think that for me, my approach to make-up over the last seven or eight years has been very much driven through working with really great make-up artists. I’ve worked with Alex Box, Ayami Nishimura, Andrew Gallimore, Caroline Saulnier. I was drawn to those people and have done four really amazing books with them. By doing the books I’ve learned to enjoy the experience, allowing them to try everything because you just get some incredible results when you do – although I’m this bullish kind of bloke who does portraiture, I really love make-up. I really love photographing it. I always say it’s in between fashion and portraiture, but I honestly love doing beauty too.
WP: How does the process of collaboration work for you?
R: With make-up it is a collaboration, I can’t take all the credit for the shots because there’s more that goes into it than people realise especially the model choices, as who you are using is really important. Models aren’t just pretty faces, they’re much, much more and really undervalued by the public. I think they see them as just being pretty, but it’s more about communicating and giving something. Portraiture, fashion or beauty – having your photograph taken is about giving something to the camera so you’re always collaborating with the person you are photographing. And with make-up, they’ve got to sit and be really patient for hours and hours, that takes a really specific type of person.
It’s a team: the MUA is coming with ideas, the creative is coming with ideas and I’m coming with ideas, the hairdresser is always involved – even in some shots when you can’t see the hair and people probably don’t realise that you have to have a hairdresser on set. You never know what else you’re going to do, so they’re definitely needed! In a regular advertising campaign, we’re always working as a team and the stylist is very much a part of it, and with make-up projects, the MUA is the really key person for me, they need to be able to suggest things or come up with ideas, and that’s a fundamental. You can’t just say it’s a Rankin thing, cos my name is on it, it’s never that.
WP: What do you look for as a photographer when you’re picking an MUA to work with? What are the key things you need to find?
R: I never like working with people who are horrible to their models. It’s not that they not really talented, but they’re just mean; they push them around and you can see the girls don’t enjoy it. The models are very patient and used to dealing with it and I love it when you see the relationship working well. With Andrew Gallimore and Caroline [Saulnier] – she’s French and quite tactile with the girls, moving them around and repositioning them, and she loves working with them. Andrew too is always checking that the girls are OK and I love that. I absolutely love that and I think that’s the way it ought to be. They’re at the top of their game and the best MUAs I’ve worked with. Dany Sanz is exactly the same – really lovely, gracious people. It might sound a bit naff to say in an interview, but actually I think it makes them better creatively. It makes them less narrow and more welcoming of ideas. You can say to Andrew, “What about doing it like this?” and he doesn’t say, “No,” he doesn’t throw his toys out of the pram and a lot of people do, especially in the fashion industry. Some people get annoyed when I change things – hairdressers especially, I think I drive them mad – but I’m only trying to help. I’m looking through the lens and I see immediately how things look.
I’m really welcoming on set and get everyone to look at the pictures. I don’t keep it separate, like some people do, I want us all to look, we work together to develop it as a team. I guess I’m the captain of the ship and guiding it, but at the end of the day, it’s about the team – all fashion is about teams. Everything that we do creatively is about teams, all directing is about teams; if you don’t have a good team and if you can’t steer whichever ship it is, you’re never going to go home and feel good about yourself at night.
WP: When you look at that shot does your brain do that leap immediately to what it will look like on the page – you critique it straight away?
R: Absolutely, you’re critiquing constantly, you’re critiquing your critique. It’s quite hard work but it’s really exciting. A lot of really great beauty photographers spend a lot of time lighting and my whole theory is that it’s more important to make the girl – or boy – feel excited to be there and get them to give you something with their eyes. There’s nothing worse than someone statically sat there and not being able to move – they become a statue and their faces freeze. I’m all about moving and getting them to come towards me and changing the light constantly; I don’t think you need more than one light source, and you can use reflectors. It’s more about the person feeling that they’re present, because I hate looking at beauty campaigns where the models look unhappy and have dead eyes – why would you buy something? It’s all changed with YouTube and blogging, I think consumers are bored with it and want more reality. I love that YouTube and vlogging in beauty is so massive, I think it will get less important in fashion but with beauty I don’t think it will; it will get bigger and bigger. People like Lisa Eldridge – she’s a lovely, lovely person and she loves the people she works with. She calls them ‘My Girls’ on her Instagram feed – some massively famous model or actress, ‘My Girl Cate Blanchett’ – but it’s true, she does care about them. And this is why people want to keep working with her – it’s a relationship that builds up over years.
Kate Lee is another example of an MUA who really loves her models and is really creative, and yet she couldn’t get arrested in Britain. She went to America, started doing Kiera Knightley and suddenly she’s boomed again because she’s a brilliant MUA and really gets on with the girls – and she’s someone I’d would work with in a heartbeat. It’s an element of trust – especially for actresses and well-known models who have developed the look that they present to the world. They need to trust the MUA with their face, to know that they’ll send them out on the red carpet looking the way that they want to. It’s about empowerment and making people feel comfortable. People ask me what I prefer and I don’t mind; I’m happy with whatever makes them happy. It’s about having fun and enjoying the process – I really think it can all become too serious.
WP: What other MUAs are there out there that you’d like to work with or work more with? What draws you to them?
R: Gucci Westman, I’ve worked with her and done a few projects with her and I’d love to do more – she’s always really busy. Val Garland – another one who is always really busy and again I’d love to do more than a few shoots with her. She’s another person who’s absolutely lovely to everybody. She’ll compliment me on my work, and in the fashion industry that can be rather gushing, but never from her. You know she’s telling the truth. She’s a person who, if I could jump into a book with her, I’d do it straight away. I’s love to work with Pat [McGrath] – she’s a bit up there; I don’t know if I’d be a bit nervous to do stuff with her. I think she’s a genius, an absolute genius. Are my answers a bit predictable?
WP: And film? Anyone there?
R: That’s a great question. There’s one I would love to work with – I worked with once on Bond – Naomi Harris, she’s amazing and again a really lovely person. I’d love to work with her and Jennifer Lawrence, I’d love to work with her. She has an amazing face, you could do anything with that face. Massively versatile, I have a real crush on her.
WP: If you had more time in your world, what would you do?
R: I’m not really built for futuristic stuff right now. I’d probably be doing stuff more arthouse like Kes – like Joe Wright – I love Atonement and Hanna, that’s probably my favourite of his films. I think he’s got a real eye. I’m not in that world as much as I’d like to be, but you can’t half do it. The publishing thing is what I’m focusing on. If I did do a film, it would be a really low budget one about kids with unknown actors. What interests me at the moment is how people are relating to each other through a phone – kids particularly – it is really unusual and untapped material. You could do a great book with Instagram images. My problem is that I just crop all my own Instagrams to the square. I don’t like having the borders.
#InstaWarpaint Photographic Competition with the theme: Festival Looks, is open to both Student and Pro Levels. For the first time, the Warpaint Championships gives you the opportunity to showcase your original photographic images in this new category. With a nod to summer, use your imagination and creativity to produce cover-worthy shots. Judged by Rankin himself, you’ll be marked on originality, photo composition, interpretation of theme, use of colour, styling, model choice and overall impact. Entry is via post or email, and must be accompanied by the completed online booking. Cost is £20 via post or by email to cover printing costs. Posted entries must be clearly mark on the back with the competitor’s name, address and contact details. The deadline for receipt of entries is midnight on Friday 12th February 2016. Entries must emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Warpaint Magazine, 2 Chalfont Mews, Augustus Road, London, SW19 6LT. For more information and to enter, click here.