Wayne Johns: Creating Stunning Shots From Hairstyles

Wayne is a Fashion, Beauty, Portrait, Advertising Photographer who carries out commissions worldwide. He has had recent exhibitions in the Hoover Skyer Gallery in Krakow and Warsaw; as well as another at the Athens Video & Arts Festival. Nominated as a finalist in the ‘Professional Photographer of the year’ Awards, he was the only photographer, from all entrants worldwide, to have 3 images in the finals; he also had the honour of reaching the finals for the very prestigious ‘Hasselblad Masters Awards’ for this year. In his client base, he has produced images for the likes of Vogue Italia, Marie Claire, GQ, Hasselblad, Bowens, Next, Seven Skies Perfume, Coca Cola – Fuze, Ultimate Rush, l’oreal, Dimension Magazine, Haute Magazine, Sugar Pop Magazine, Powergen, Centrica, Next, Nike, Vans, Sketchers, Gul, Surf Pro, Heybrook Hi-Fi,White stuff, Mambo, Hooch, Arnet and has been featured in many other magazines, books and on the web. Some of his behind the scenes films have also been shown on the likes of Haute TV. “Elements on White,” a recent behind the scenes film on a hair shoot, captures Wayne working with the Leica S-System. He and his team currently work out of London studios and other worldwide locations.

Q:  You have worked on many shoots what is you most memorable/favorite?

A: I think one of my most memorable, but certainly not my favorite, was actually when I was assisting many, many years ago in the film days before I turned pro, before digital was really around or very popular.

I was assisting an advertising photographer, on this particular high end shoot. I was changing the film and loading/unloading 4×5 dark slides. Taking the12 dark slides (24 sheets of film) that had just been shot, I put them in the light tent. Obviously you’re working blind and just by feel with these things as they’re light proof and it’s only your hands that go in there. I took out all the sheet film, boxed it up so it was sealed and protected from daylight and took the new stack of 12 dark slides that I’d loaded earlier.

I gave them back to the photographer for the next set of 24 shots; long story short, it turned out I hadn’t actually loaded the second set of dark slides with film, like I thought I had, at all. So the next 24 shots the photographer thought he’d meticulously set up, shot and captured didn’t actually happen or exist! I was so embarrassed, a very, very costly, time consuming and expensive mistake! I can laugh at it now but at the time I was mortified.

My favorite shoot –  I couldn’t really choose I’ve had so many great shoots over the years of my career, it would be so hard to choose, I’ve worked with some amazing and talented people!

Q: What personally is your favorite style of photography?

A: For me, I love shooting fashion and beauty or creative portraits, working with other amazing creatives, designers, stylists, hair and makeup really enthuses me. I guess I’m a people person, I really enjoy shooting anything that involves or includes people as my subjects.

Capturing the emotion or mood of a person’s face can carry is just amazing for me, everyone is so different, whether the shot is staged or natural. I love it! Shooting fashion or ad campaigns is just so diverse as well and opens such great story interpretation, it’s certainly a passion and energy that drives me and my creative mind.

Q: You recently used the Leica S studio at Leica Mayfair. How was this experience?

A: I did indeed, a couple of times now in fact. I think the studios are a beautiful space to shoot in and a great atmosphere, not to mention the great coffee the Leica teams are always willing to make and bring up to the studio for you..(smiles) Good coffee is always needed and believe me the coffee is good. They are always so helpful and accommodating too, if there’s anything you want or need they always do their utmost to get it for you. They’re just great!

For me, I love the option of being able to shoot in the studio with beautiful daylight streaming in through the gorgeous windows that they have in there or in a more controlled full black out option with the electric black out blinds and studio flash, or indeed even a mix of the two. My last couple of shoots there have been for the British Hairdressing Awards so they’ve been shot with a controlled lighting set up where we had to close all the window/roof blinds, but I’d love to shoot with the natural daylight that floods in there. It’s absolutely gorgeous light!

It’s a great set up, a stunning looking studio, and superb facilities. I could happily move in there and use it as my permanent space. Not to forget you have the Leica store downstairs too.

Q: How did you find using the Leica S-System?

A: Effortless, is one word that would immediately come to mind. the Leica S-System is just such a joy to use; it has such a superb build quality. I really like the overall ergonomics of the body, it fits in the hand really well, much the same as my Canon DSLR’s do, it’s overall size is much the same as my Canon too, which for a medium format based camera system is just fantastic!

Focusing is smooth and speedy, the viewfinder is really bright and clear, the menu system is a breeze to work through, its very simply laid out and gives the option to create custom select short cuts on the main 4 button configuring next to the rear preview screen too.

I mainly use it with the battery/vertical grip attached, but one thing I love is that you can take off the battery grip and the body is similar in size to that of a Canon 5D mk III (without a vertical grip), but it is medium format. You can see Leica have really thought out some of the features on the S system, like the socket and cable connection for tethered shooting, it’s so refined yet so strong, and effortlessly simple! I never have to worry about the cable slipping out or working loose through camera movement. Fantastic!

For some reason the shutter dial on top of the camera appeals to me too, I think that’s a little nostalgia creeping in,but it’s very smooth and positive.

Not forgetting the obvious, the image quality out of this system, with the Leica lenses, is just mind blowing; I’ve recently had the privilege of seeing one of my images, which I shot for a recent advertising campaign, printed around 4 meters tall, and the detail is truly outstanding! It just blows me away every time. I’d happily make this the only system I’d shoot on every single day, for both commercial and personal work. It’s superb!

Q: Was this your first experience in using Leica camera?

A: No, I’ve shot and used Leica’s before and quite a lot in the film days. I mean the reputation of Leica quality with both their cameras and their lenses has been at the forefront of the industry and respected for many years. Some of the best photographs in the world, by some of the world’s greatest photographers, have been shot on these camera systems- it’s like they’re almost bullet proof!

I am keen to get my hands on an M9 though.  I’d love to shoot a personal project for the purpose of exhibition with one of those. A beautiful series of celebrity portraits would be a superb project for it.

Q: What does the future hold for you?

A: Well, commercially, I’m still working my socks off and loving every minute of it. That’s certainly a passion for me. I’m also looking for new agent representation overseas, to expand my commercial work and client base. I’m hungry to get my teeth into some exciting, creative and challenging ad campaigns.

I’m currently in the middle of shooting a new coffee table style book of nudes, but that won’t be finished or available for a few years yet! I’d really love to shoot a book of celebrities as well, that  would be amazing! – I’d certainly love to have the opportunity to shoot a portrait of David Bowie, what an amazing and talented person he is…pure genius! That would be a superb project!

I’m also shooting more behind the scenes films with all my shoots lately. I seem to be getting a lot of good interest and feedback, one of those films being at the Leica S studio of course. Exciting really, as I’ve received outside interest from clients for me to shoot and direct some more film work. I must be doing something right that someone likes.

One target this year would be to secure a beautiful feature in the Leica S magazine. My main aim is to just keep shooting and creating beautiful imagery all over the world, with great creative teams and great clients, putting work out there that people can look at love and enjoy!

Thank you for your time, Wayne!

- Leica Internet Team

To learn more about Wayne visit his website and blog.