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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 14/15. 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
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