Duncan Raban: ‘A Day in the Life of Tina Turner’

Several weeks ago, I met up with Brighton-based photographer Duncan Raban to discuss his unique path in the realm of photography. The esteemed shutterbug set off in sports photography, most notably meeting Pelé for a shoot, before launching into music. Despite landing on music and football as his pivotal subjects, Raban’s central interest has always been in mankind – with an emphasis on “kind”. Raban has launched a quest to spread kindness through his vocation in recent years. However, this is nothing new; his natural charm has always brought a smile to the faces of those around him, even the late, great Tina Turner.

As we discovered in his ‘Just Say Hello’ collection, Raban has always put himself out there as an infectious socialite. While his early rise, sneaking into Live Aid and Madonna concerts, kick-started his catalogue, private shoots could truly accommodate Raban’s unique edge. Assertive kindness has rarely failed the photographer, and perhaps its greatest success was a whole day spent shooting the queen of rock and roll.

“Thank you for bringing joy to us all, and I know you’re already up, singing away, bringing joy to everyone in heaven,” Raban wrote in a social media post following Turner’s death in May.

In the days following the legendary singer’s passing, Raban’s ‘A Day in the Life of Tina Turner’ photo series began to appear in double-spread features for major national newspapers. Incidentally, on the day I met Raban in a Kemp Town café, he showed me one such feature before pulling out a handcrafted booklet he had made using shots from his day with Turner. Laid out like a diary, the images and adjacent captions recounted a remarkable day in Raban’s career.

“Back in 1997, celebrity photography had become so predictable,” Raban remembered. “Every magazine around the world featured beautifully posed pictures of stars at home in a kitchen or by their pool. I felt these pictures appeared so manufactured, with artists looking so perfect, and I wondered who were the stars behind the carefully manufactured image. Celebrity photography needs a shake-up. So I set myself a personal challenge to photograph one of the world’s greatest singers, Tina Turner, in a more candid style.”

“I had been reading a book about achieving your dreams, and it said if you really want to do something, you just have to ask… Yes, just ask,” he continued. “Two weeks later, I had sneaked into the after-show party at the BRIT Awards, and I noticed a man with a fabulous tie and discovered he was Tina Turner’s manager; his name was Roger Davis.”

“So I approached him and said, ‘WOW, what a fabulous tie.’ He smiled and said, ‘That’s very kind of you, thank you. Who are you?’ I said I am Duncan, a photographer, and I have a mad idea to throw at you. ‘OK, I am all ears go ahead,’ he said”.

“Well, how about photographing Tina in a way never done before? Photograph her waking up, getting out of bed and photograph her whole day from dawn to dusk. ‘A Day in the Life of Tina’ in black and white. Let me be a fly on the wall and capture the human side of this superstar, and he laughed, saying, ‘Well, it’s a nice idea. However, it’s unlikely Tina would allow this as she is very private’.”

“I will offer my time for free and give you all my pictures, and if you like them, I will get them published all over the world,” Raban recalled persisting. “Then four days later, he called me saying, ‘Look, Tina loves your idea. She will be in London the day after tomorrow. Are you available?’”

“It only happened because I just said hello with a compliment to her manager and took a risk with an idea,” Raban reflected. “Tina loved my pictures and approved 50 pictures to sell to glossy magazines around the world.”

Duncan Raban has kindly shared this unique photograph collection with Far Out. Below, we present the ‘A Day in the Life of Tina Turner’ collection in chronological order with Raban’s captions.

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