Girl Trip Photographers in Residence

An Interview with Hannah Rankin

What inspired you to become a photographer?

When I was about 13 years old, I was asked to take a portrait of a couple of family members who were in town. At this point, the only camera I had ever utilized was a two megapixel camera on a cell phone. I held the camera up, looked through the viewfinder, took the camera away from my face, and asked my mom if she could step in closer. I then moved in order to arrange the family in the middle of the photograph, then proceeded to take a series of photos from other angles for differentiation. She started laughing, and when I asked her why she told me she’d never seen me so interested in the actual composition of a photograph before. Her comment encouraged me to continue shooting.

Icee Syrup


What is your advice to younger photographers?

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot! Don’t stop creating. Everybody finds their groove at different points in their lives with their passions. The harder I worked, researched and practiced, the better I became at constructing my work(s).

Gummy Worm

What would you consider to be your aesthetic and how does it show itself in your work?

My aesthetic has changed a lot over the past few years because I used to only shoot in 35mm black and white film. Since my switch to the digital realm, my photographs have hovered around color and texture the most… especially in the work I created while at school using macro lenses and microscopes.

Gummy Worm 2

What does it feel like when you are shooting images / working?

It really depends on what I’m working on/with (whether I’m shooting with my DSLR or simply with my iPhone, the media I’m utilizing, the quality of light around me.. etc). I feel happiest when I’m able to manipulate or play around with my subjects so one is able to see the subject or subjects in a different light than what one may be used to seeing. Being able to switch up a “normal” view of something and adding my own touch keeps me excited when shooting, and often leads to more ideas. I used to get frustrated when I could imagine a great image in my head, but couldn’t quite figure out how to translate the image in my mind into a tactile environment to photograph. I’ve since learned that not controlling every little element often led to greater images than I initially imagined.

Lucky Charm 2

When did you begin shooting images and why?

My mom and my step dad own an architecture firm in Seattle. Even as a kid, I remember coming home to my mom and her drawings, and trying to steal all of her colorful Chartpak Ad Markers so I could draw. It wasn’t until I got my first flip phone that I started taking photos as an evolution to my creative process. I enjoyed the idea of creating a moment through my eyes that I could continuously re-live. They weren’t great photos but I was taking enough of them to max out the space allotted on my phone, and I upgraded to a little point-and-shoot camera. After a while, I found myself stepping just a couple inches one way or tilting just a bit further up to create a better shot than simply pointing-and-shooting without thinking. I chose to study photography at the Rhode Island School of Design, and picked up my first DSLR. I graduated with a major in Photography this past year!

Gummy Worm 3

How did you begin shooting candy?

I was taking a class called “Anthropology of Science in Society” during my Junior year at RISD. One of the topics that interested me most revolved around GMOs (genetically modified foods), and that inspired me to look deeper into popular brands of processed foods. RISD offers an array of fantastic resources, one of which being an entire lab of picture-taking microscopes. These microscopes allowed me to explore the textures and artificial colorings of processed foods and candies at a level unseen to the human eye. One series that stemmed from the microscope photos is called Candy Scapes. I took some of the most popular artificially colored candies and explored their textures underneath a microscope. The abstract results resembled alien landscapes with strange, fantastic color combinations that added a sense of atmosphere. Since finishing school, I no longer have access to the microscopes, so I have been using a simple magnetic macro lens that sticks to the camera on my iPhone. Although I don’t have the same range of shooting options, the macro lens still allows me to explore my subjects at a scale that isn’t normally seen, and that’s what keeps me excited to shoot!


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