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A Rankin photoshoot? Yours for £20

Renowned photographer Rankin, who has taken the portraits of celebrities from Kylie Minogue to the Queen, today offered his photographic skills to the public – for just £20 a time.

Isobel Smith gets the Rankin treatment

Rankin fans queued outside the National Theatre on London’s South Bank to have their portrait taken against his trademark white background.

Isobel Smith, 26, from London was one of those to get the photoshoot experience.

She said:

“It was pretty amazing. I was a bit nervous but excited at the same time”

Another person waiting her turn was Jessica from Canada. She told Don’t Know? that she was excited about getting her picture taken by the celebrated photographer.

“I mean, how often do you get that chance?” she added.

Congo Crisis

The event is being held on behalf of Oxfam, with all proceeds going to the charity.

Rankin explained:

“I’m down on the South Bank today because we’re seeing a catastrophe unfolding in Congo. I visited before the current crisis and even then the level of suffering there was horrendous. I hate to think what it’s like now”

Earlier this year, Rankin travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to photograph refugees in the country’s Mugunga camp.

'Jasmine, Photographer' by Rankin (courtesy of Oxfam)The resulting photographs are currently being shown in an exhibition called “Cheka kidogo” outside the National Theatre.

Cheka kidogo means ‘laugh a little’ in Swahili.

Rankin shot his subjects in his traditional celebrity style. He says:

“I think we have become anaesthetised to traditional photographs of conflict victims. By taking my celebrity portraiture style of photography and applying it to the survivors in the camps in Congo I have tried to get beyond the statistics and show the human side of the conflict”

Celebrity Conflict?

But is there a risk that the involvement of a fashion photographer could trivialise the conflict?

Sean Kenny, a Press Officer for the charity, doesn’t think so. He defended the partnership with Rankin:

“He can talk to people who we wouldn’t usually hear from”

This could prove crucial as Oxfam plans to expand its presence in Congo from helping 85,000 people to 200,000. Kenny says that this will cost an extra £1 million.

The Rankin event won’t have raised quite that much this time around; only about 35 people had signed up to have their photos taken by 12.30.

The principle behind it is sound though, thought one woman waiting to have her picture taken:

“If you appeal to people’s vanity,you’ll do well” she said.

For background information on Rankin, click here.

This article also appears as one of my contributions to Don’t Know? magazine.

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