Last week we announced the world renowned fashion photographer Rankin as one of the celebrity judges for this year’s Windsor Festival Schools’ Programme and found out about what he’s looking for.

We were lucky enough to squeeze a few answers out of the photographer during his busy schedule as we enter fashion’s most fierce and furious season.

As a judge of this competition’s art section, what influences your decisions?

“Everything and anything. I am looking for someone with a good eye and an interesting outlook on the world. Whether it’s funny or sad or lighthearted or profound, it’s all about having an opinion.”

How did you become involved with judging this year’s Windsor Festival School Competition?

“I was asked by a friend of a friend and was delighted to help out where I could. I’m all for the freeing of creativity for school kids and doing what I can to help them further their ideas and talent.”

Who or what had the most influence on your creative style as a youngster?

“All the greats of photography. The list is endless but includes Bailey, Avedon, Eggleston, Teller, Knight, Newton, Blumenfeld, McCullin and Penn. I just love photography.”

What is your favourite aspect of being a creative entrepreneur?

“The people. I have about 60 creative people working with me in my London studio and they make me look forward to shooting every day. I love being around that, and around these people expressing themselves. I never forget what a real privilege that is.”

What inspires your creativity – is it the visual aspect or its social/commercial message?

“Sometimes it’s one, sometimes the other. I genuinely believe in the power of photography to question and change the world. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or make something beautiful while you’re at it.”

How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

“When I come across a creative idea I process it very quickly and I have a team of people who also process things very quickly. We’ll create an idea from anywhere on Monday and shoot it by Tuesday. That’s the beauty of our set-up.”

What have been some of your failures, in photography or film, and what have you learned from them?

“Some ideas work, some ideas fail. That’s the game we play. But they’d be absolutely nothing unless you take the risk. If something fails, you take it on the chin and try harder the next time. That’s life. If you’ve got the work ethic and the determination, you’ll be fine.”

What creative advice has been most important to your success?

“I worked out pretty early on that, as a professional photographer, people are commissioning you to have an opinion; they aren’t paying you to do as you’re told. It singles you out to develop the idea that is brought to you and keep an open dialogue with the person paying you for your expertise.”

With the progression of digital technology and the ease of its use for youngsters, do you agree or disagree with the following statements in relation to the process of creativity: a) Technology expands the ‘spark of imagination’ or b) technology dampens the ‘spark of imagination’?

“Technology 100 per cent sparks the imagination. It gives you so much freedom to get better by just looking at what you’re doing as you’re doing it. I love that photography has gone from this passive medium to something inclusive and collaborative. With digital, you can work as part of a team. You can look at it on a screen so everyone can feel part of the process and enhance the image you’re creating. Photography is all about collaboration.”

What creative advice could you provide the Windsor school children who have entered?

“Look at the world with an honest pair of eyes. But, most importantly, have an opinion. Be honest, be frank, be candid, be rude, be funny, be silly, be provocative. But be something. Give a view of the world through the eyes of an individual.”

Judges for the creative competition for 14 to 17-year-olds include royal fashion designer and broadcaster David Emanuel, most famous for designing Princess Diana’s wedding dress, who will be judging the arts category alongside Rankin, photographer Gill Aspel and The Gallery at ice director Micky Middleton. Composer and conductor Carl Davis will be judging the music composition category alongside music education consultant and choral director Gillian Dibden and Richard Pinel, assistant director of music at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Judging the creative writing will be children’s book editor Julia Eccleshare, former Man Booker Prize judge Alastair Niven and president of Windsor Festival and poet, The Reverend Canon John White.

We will be announcing the winners this afternoon.

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