Photos of Adele, Dev Hynes, and The Horrors Before Their Careers Took Off


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Back Then with Ben Rayner

Photos of Adele, Dev Hynes, and The Horrors Before Their Careers Took Off

Photographer Ben Rayner goes into his archive to pick some photos that are ten years old to the month. This gallery features Adele while she was still in school and Dev Hynes's first show as Lightspeed Champion.

A selfie of the author at age 21 before smartphones were a thing.

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 (€255) 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.


For more of Ben Rayner's photo work, visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

An early photo of Adele.

This Pomeranian appears to be on Great Eastern Street in London. This may have started my obsession with shooting dogs, which culminated in a book called “Hello Buddy" that I released in 2008.

This is Dev Hynes (of Blood Orange fame today) at his first-ever show with Lightspeed Champion, his kind of alt-country band.

Dev just as he came offstage. Sick style.

There used to be a junk shop at the end of my street in Peckham, London that sold booze and stuff like this. I lived there before there was anything at all there. The area is really nice now.

This is Josh from the Horrors, and the hands belong to Sylvia Farago and Dev Hynes. This was kind of the birth of a scene of music. The Klaxons and Horrors had just started and everything was really exciting.

I still worked in a shop part-time at this point, selling shoes to people. I used to do the delivery shift, which meant getting there at 5AM. I would leave my house at 4AM, after usually getting in around 2AM. The sunrises were beautiful, though.

Hackney sunset.


This is Ben Toms, a great photographer, and Iphgenia Baal, an awesome writer. You could still smoke inside bars when I took this photo.

This appears to be at an early VICE anniversary party in London. The party was at Turn Mills, which was one of London’s first-ever after hours gay clubs. Unfortunately, it’s since been knocked down and turned into flats.

This is one of London's many buses. I was going to a Halloween party when I shot this. The guy standing up is my friend Milo Cordell, from Merok Records and the band the Big Pink.

We used to go to hardcore shows at this place called the Dome. This is Nathan Bean, from many British hardcore bands.

This is my friend Sam. I traded some punk records for this banjo. I need to get it back.

This is my friend Dylan. We used to party hard. I really like the tones of this photo—only shades of grey.

We used to hang out at this bar in London called Garlic and Shots, which is still there. It’s a Swedish bar where they have lots of flavored garlic shots.