Ben Rayner is a British-born, New York-based photographer who's collaborated with VICE on and off since the early days of his career. Today, Rayner's known for shooting covers of famous people for fancy magazines, though a good chunk of his subjects are just mates he's known since long before they hit it big.
In our new photo column, Back Then with Ben Rayner, the artist goes back into his film archive and picks a series of snaps that are ten years old to the month. The following photos are from November, 2006.
In November 2006, I had just finished university and was 21-years-old. I'd been shooting for magazines like Dazed and Confused and VICE for a year or two, and would pick up the odd commercial job shooting for record labels or something similar. I also worked in a shoe shop a couple days a week to have regular money coming in. I always ended up doing the delivery shift on Saturday morning, which meant getting to central London around 5 AM—often while I was still drunk.
I lived in Peckham at the time, and my rent was £220 a month. I lived between a chicken shop and an off-license liquor store that owned the house we lived in. (Essentially, it was a false economy. We spent what little money we had left after paying rent on beer.) Peckham was many years away from becoming gentrified and was still really cheap. Hackney was still relatively affordable, too, and you could make ends meet doing odd jobs. This was a time when I had NO MONEY, and if I got commissioned to do some photo work, I could maybe afford to shoot two rolls of film and then live on these pasta pots that Tesco sold for 80p.
It was quite an exciting time for music. Dev Hynes [of Blood Orange] had a new band called Lightspeed Champion, and the Klaxons and the Horrors were blowing up. Everyone was having a great time. There were things like WOWOW and REAL GOLD doing insane warehouse parties in derelict tire shops. Music was fun back then, and I got to shoot portraits of many bands for magazines, often before their careers took off. I actually shot Adele a month or so before taking the photos below, but we're going to include it anyway. She had just started to do stuff at the time.