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Get to know Ben Rayner: the photographer who has shot ASAP Rocky and Mia Goth

Ben Rayner is a photographer whose photographs are the epitome of ease, cool and fun. He has photographed people like Felicity Jones, ASAP Rocky, Bella Hadid, Greta Gerwig, Lil Wayne, Russell Brand, Mia Goth, Alexa Chung for magazines like Vogue Russia, The New York Times, Wonderland, Vice, Dazed and Confused…

His pho­tog­ra­phy is sim­ple yet effec­tive. It’s enter­tain­ing but not in a laugh­able man­ner but just in a smart, wit­ty way with few hid­den con­no­ta­tions and a good eye on what makes some­thing inter­est­ing and worth cap­tur­ing of. From dogs to mod­els to oth­er pho­tog­ra­ph­er friends, Ben cap­tures them all in their, let’s say, nat­ur­al habi­tat and in a way, noth­ing seems to be forced and every­thing looks just right and relaxed.

What makes you want to take pho­tographs?
Every­thing! Nature, peo­ple, the ground. I kind of tak­ing pic­tures of lit­er­al­ly every­thing. I worked out I had an acci­den­tal series of the backs of people’s heads in the street, and col­ored hair. I’m real­ly inspired by every­thing. I am kind of from the school of thought of shoot at the moment and then edit after. Edit­ing is a large part of my work and makes me make sense of every­thing after I have shot it. I often edit work a long time after I have shot it.

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When and why did you trade Lon­don for NY?
2010, I was 25. I fan­cied a change grow­ing up in Lon­don my whole life, and I had been com­ing to NY a lot for work. I love Lon­don, but I think I like New York more. I love the ener­gy of the city, and it still hasn’t got old for me. I am a child of the 90s so grew up watch­ing a lot of Amer­i­can TV and movies, so there was some kind of romance to NYC to me. It still hasn’t left me. I was also a huge punk rock/​indie rock nerd, and all the bands I liked were Amer­i­can. I thought I always want­ed to live in New York and it was a dream come true when I final­ly made it.

What is your favorite thing about Lon­don and what about NY?
Lon­don: I love the bus­es. Every­one rides the bus in Lon­don. It’s a great way of see­ing the city from high up if you ride on the top deck, two of my friends James Pear­son-Howes and Will Rob­son-Scott did a cool pho­to project of pho­tos just from the tops of bus­es. I also love how OLD every­thing is in Lon­don. And I real­ly miss Lon­don flats. They are quite unique.

NY: I love parks, walk­ing the streets, it’s the best place in the world to walk around. I like all the old peo­ple too. OLD New York peo­ple are so cool. I even like New York in the winter.

When you take pho­tographs of some­one who is more known, do you ever feel more pres­sured because they are more exposed and much more seen, so every­thing has to be that much bet­ter?
Not real­ly. I have been doing this for about 13 years now, so I am real­ly used to it. I actu­al­ly shot pret­ty well known peo­ple very ear­ly on in my career, so I treat them the same as all my sub­jects. I have a very stripped back style so I like to think I can shoot more famous peo­ple in a real­ly relaxed way so that I get some of their real per­son­al­i­ty out. Things are planned but allow spontaneity.

How would your dream shoot look like?
I don’t real­ly have a dream shoot. I like to spend time with peo­ple to real­ly get their true selves. I would love to shoot Chance the Rap­per, Kanye, Drake, at the moment, though.

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Is tak­ing pho­tographs some­thing you always want­ed to do?
At this stage it’s kind of the only thing I know. I orig­i­nal­ly want­ed to be a music jour­nal­ist, though. I even had an indie rock fanzine I pub­lished when I was 1415. I inter­viewed Nine Inch Nails, Idlewild, NOFX and lots more bands. I took all the pho­tos and wrote all the reviews too. It was obvi­ous­ly ter­ri­ble! I used to get into every con­cert for free though and a moun­tain of pro­mo CDs. It was awesome

Ana­log or dig­i­tal?
I love both! I still shoot both. Film has a spe­cial place in my heart as it is what I start­ed on but it’s not always practical.

Do you maybe remem­ber what was the first pho­to­graph you took?
I had a cam­era that looked like a dinosaur when I was about 5. I prob­a­bly took a pho­to of my broth­er in my back garden.

What did you want to be grow­ing up?
First­ly a Music Jour­nal­ist, then a Pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Before that prob­a­bly a footballer?

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Whose work do you admire the most?
Wolf­gang Till­mans. He’s my fave. He shoots every­thing. He is a big inspi­ra­tion. I shot him, and he was a won­der­ful man.

What was your first real job?
I worked in KFC in Lon­don. I got paid min­i­mum wage and got shout­ed out con­stant­ly. It was horrible.

Do you ever Google your­self?
Sure. There’s also a well known music jour­nal­ist in Cana­da with my name.

When was the last time you had a sleep­less night?
Last night.

Do you skate?
Not in 2017. I stopped quite ear­ly. I love skate­board­ing, though.

For more pic­tures, have a look at Ben Rayn­ers Insta­gram account here

09 May 2017 · neubau eyewear