Rankin, arguably the best portrait photographer in the world, re-creates four of Rembrandt’s iconic paintings, giving us a fascinating insight into how he thinks and works.
Rankin has photographed pretty much every big name you can imagine, from Tony Blair to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Prince William to Pharrell, and Madonna to The Queen.
He recently undertook a project for a BBC documentary, to re-create four of Rembrandt’s paintings as photographs, paying attention to the lighting, the scene, and the persona captured. Rankin opens by saying that the first thing he thinks about in any shoot is the lighting, so it’s no surprise that he chose the Dutch painter responsible for the renowned Rembrandt lighting style.
The programme is an incredible exposé of how Rankin sees, thinks, and works, providing a huge insight into the man behind the camera of so many iconic images.
It’s interesting to see behind the scenes of four of his shoots, each in a different setting, showing how he directs his many assistants to get the lighting just right, and that the assistants take and pose for test shots before he starts shooting with his sitter. We see his setup for tethered shooting, how he interacts with his sitters, and how they review and compare photos during the shoot, and the (not always positive) feedback from the mature model on seeing all of their lines and wrinkles brought out by Rembrandt’s iconic lighting style.
Stylists and clothing designers are also in for a treat as he shoots with fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, and they walk through the National Theatre’s costume department trying out costumes and accessories.
Watch “Ranking Shoots Rembrandt”, available on BBC iplayer until 21:30 on 17th November 2014.