Rankin to recreate photos with loved ones for people bereaved during Covid

Many would cherish the opportunity to recreate a treasured photo with someone who has died. Now, a number of bereaved people who lost loved ones during the Covid pandemic will be featured in a new portrait series by the photographer Rankin alongside them for one last time.

The project, called Dying Matters, is in partnership with Hospice UK and aims to spark a conversation about grief, amid a pandemic that has left an estimated additional 750,000 people bereaved across the UK.

The charity invited people to submit their story of grief for a chance to feature in the photo series. The final eight – Aongola, Toby, Ed, Rubina, Maria, Stephen, Kevin, Jack and Ike – were selected to have their photograph taken at Rankin’s studio alongside a full-size cutout of their loved ones, bridging the gap between the past and present.

Aongola remembers his auntie and grandmother
Aongola remembers his auntie and grandmother. Photograph: Rankin/Dying Matters

By playing with perspective, the photographer – who has captured some of the world’s most famous people from Queen Elizabeth II to Kate Moss – has tried to bring the subjects of these photos to life in a different way.

“Photographs are like time capsules, which means photography can be very powerful in dealing with death and loss,” Rankin said. “The family portrait or holiday snap allows you to emotionally connect through time and space with the person you have loved and lost.

“It keeps them alive in your memory, whilst also giving you something to memorialise them with. That’s why I love this project – it connects us to our emotions’ history and everyone can be part of it.”

Maria remembers her wife
Maria remembers her wife. Photograph: Rankin/Dying Matters

While the series captures a diverse range of stories, all are unified by the subjects’ determination to create a culture in which people are more open about their experiences and better able to support each other through death and grief.

Sarah West, the director of campaigns and communications at Hospice UK, said: “How we remember loved ones is a uniquely personal part of grief, yet these photos will resonate with everyone who has lost someone important to them.

“We’re so pleased to have worked with Rankin to capture these deeply personal experiences that tell bold and brave stories from all walks of life, and we’re honoured to be sharing the experiences of our wonderful storytellers to open up a much-needed conversation about death, dying and bereavement.”

The series is being released during #IRemember eek, running from 7-13 November, when people are encouraged to share stories and photos of those they have lost. The photos will also be exhibited at the Death festival in Brighton on 11-12 November.

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