Rankin: ‘death is the final taboo’

An audience with one of ELLE’s faves


‘I’m not a rockstar,’ declared Rankin at a Meet The Photographer event hosted last week at the Apple Store on Regent Street – before he was promptly mugged by his adoring audience the instant he stepped off-stage just like, well, a rockstar.

It’s understandable. To know Rankin is to love him. He’s a particular favourite of ELLE (Emma Watson, Jessie J and Scarlett Johansson are just a few of our covers that he’s shot in recent memory), and his no-holds-barred approach to life through his lens makes him one fascinating An Audience With.


Top of the list of discussion topics? Death. Or, more specifically, defying it, like the subjects of his latest show Alive: In The Face Of Death, all of whom are living with terminal illness.

One of them, Louise Page, who had bone cancer, said all she wanted to do was live to see the exhibition: she died a matter of days after its private view.

‘The catalyst for the show was my parents dying,’ Rankin explained. ‘My dad, always wanting to get in there first, had a heart attack and died. Then my mum did, all within three weeks. This was my way of dealing with it. Death is the final taboo. But weirdly, I found this a very positive project.’


Coming into the acquaintance of professional Ghanian mourners was the least of it…

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Alive: In the Face of Death is at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool until 15 September. Look out for an episode about it airing on BBC Two's The Culture Show later in the year.

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