To celebrate the power of photography and reflect on these strange and unprecedented times, Rankin is launching a crowd-sourced photography project on a mass-scale for his upcoming television series Rankin’s 2020, coming to Sky Arts in September. The project empowers the public to pick up a smartphone or camera to express themselves — regardless of how many years of experience they have — and capture the spirit of 2020.
From now until 23 August, Rankin is inviting amateurs and professionals alike to take a photograph, or submit something from their back catalogue, that represents their year in 2020. To give some inspiration, six categories have been created: Family, Fun, Self, Beauty, Empathy, and Nature. Rankin will hand-select his favourite submissions with the help of special celebrity guests on the programme.
To be considered, simply post your photo on Instagram, tag the handle @2020rankin and use the hashtag #2020rankin in the description, along with the category you are entering.
We sat down with Rankin to hear what he has in store for Rankin’s 2020.
Where did the idea for Rankin’s 2020 come from?
The production company approached me about an idea to do a crowd-sourced TV show around the same time that I was asked to be on Portrait Artist of the Week. My experience on that was so exciting and unusual. I sat digitally for a painter called Samira Addo and she was so brilliant. It was three hours on a Sunday morning sitting on Facebook Live being painted and it was live-streamed with viewers invited to join in. What followed were 1000s of paintings by people from all around the world. So when the production company were chatting to me about potential projects, having seen the incredible reception to Portrait Artist of the Week, I was like ‘if you could do something like that with photography where we could crowd-source images, I think we could almost make a photo album of the country over the month of August and that would be an amazing legacy of what we have all gone through.’
People can you use any camera they have, right?
Absolutely. The whole point of this is that it’s not just for professionals, it’s for anyone that can take a picture. It could be someone with a camera phone, and we really encourage that, or you can be a professional photographer taking pictures or somewhere in-between. The categories are very broad and different from normal photographic categories.
Tell us a little more about the categories.
The six themes are empathy, nature, self, fun, beauty and family. It is super broad. We have beauty because it is so much of a daily experience and people are using it in the same way that they used fashion 20 years ago as a form of self expression. Family is an important one because we’ve all either been separated or with our families more this year. We included empathy because, if we need anything at the moment, we need that. The themes are really important because it’s about how you, as an individual, see the world.
And so many people have access to that now with camera phones!
I just did a BAFTA shoot where I was guiding people photographically and the pictures were so good. There are some great phone apps which you can use like Adobe Lightroom, RAW+, which I’ve been using, and VSCO which is absolutely incredible. There are so many ways that you can use these things, and they’re also cheap and accessible. I think, instead of putting filters on images, it’s good to put them through an app and learn the art of photography. Over the last 10 years since digital came along, I’ve watched it be really abused by camera phones and Instagram and social media because people didn’t have a knowledge of digital, but now people are starting to mature. I always say that digital is like a toddler, it doesn’t matter what age you are, we’ve all been toddlers for the past 5-10 years and now we’re starting to mature into adolescence. So there’s this desire and a thirst for more knowledge about photography.
For those thinking of entering, what are you looking for?
I’m looking for images that really show us into their world. I’m definitely not looking for technical perfection. I’m not looking for things I’ve seen before, or tropes or a particular style. I’m looking for an emotional connection to the subject matter and that is the most important thing about photography. Taking pictures is quite an emotionally positive thing to do. Pictures are capturing a moment in time and then enhancing your memory in the future. I’m always looking for other people’s memories.
So, what's in it for the winners?
Ten people from each category will have their work put into a book and possibly into an online show, but honestly, I’ve already seen 30 or so and they’re great, so that public exhibition on Instagram is really why to do it! To create a discussion around that. It’s exciting.
Finally, Sky Arts have announced they're heading to Freeview, right?
Sky Arts is a great channel. I’ve seen things on it that I’m really impressed by, so for me it’s really a great moment for it to be free because I think now more than ever, they’ve got this public approach to the arts that I haven’t really seen any other channels do. They very much believe that anyone can get into art and it’s not just for the experts, it’s for the people, and I sit very much within that.