Leica Camera will be present at The Photography Show being held in Birmingham, England on March 21-24. The Photography Show takes place in hall 5 at the NEC and you can visit Leica at stand C31. There are a host of events planned including talks and demos by Tom Stoddart, Matt Stuart, Richard Seymour and Wayne Johns. This blog series features these photographers and the stories behind their favorite images. Next, Wayne Johns shares insight into the favorite face he has shot.
This shot came from a normal commercial shooting day for me. Only this time, it was with four completely new and inexperienced models, whom I’d never shot or even met before. I’d only seen some reference shots of them, which were cameraphone snaps.
When I met Angela, the model here, it was like finding one of those previously undiscovered little gems. In between all that nervousness and inexperience, she was someone who listened well to instruction and gave me the result I was looking for and a lot more. When I started shooting, she just clicked (if you’ll excuse the pun) and evoked the strong look I was after for my concept.
I love this image. It’s strong, powerful and quite mysterious. That’s amplified with the rich contrast of the shot, especially with it being black-and-white. I think that certainly adds to the mood and impact of the shot. I love images that draw you in, and this for me does exactly that. Her look just holds you. As much as you try and look at other contrasting areas of the scene, you always find yourself being drawn back to that strong look of her face.
My aim for this series was to shoot the models with a very cinematic feel and quite heavy with the shadows and contrasts. I didn’t want the background to be too distracting so all the focus of the viewer was drawn into the model’s face and look. The colour versions of this series don’t have that deep impact that the black-and-whites ones do. These definitely have an immediate punch to them.
For maximum control, I shot this in the studio using Bowens flash lighting. It wasn’t really a tricky lighting set up either. It was three flash heads – one directly over head the model using a softbox with a grid attached, to keep my light soft but quite directional; a main light using a beauty dish also with a grid to allow me to keep control over my light spread and also to add a little more contrast to my shot; and finally a third light up high for the background with a standard reflector again with a grid and a coloured gel. That was it really! Oh and a white reflector on the opposite side to the beauty dish to add some very gentle fill to those rich blacks.
I wanted to keep maximum image quality for this shot and the ability to retain the details in my contrasting shadow and highlight areas, as well as a nice smooth gradation of tones through the range. A lot of my images can get printed very, very large. So for this reason I shot this series with the Leica S-System, and for this particular shot I used the 120 mm lens. This lens gave me just the right amount of compression to flatten my scene a little and allowed me to shoot at an f/8 aperture to keep the detail on my model while blowing my background focus out just enough to give me that key model/background separation I was after.
When you love shooting imagery like this year after year, as a career, there’s no better feeling. That just drives you to want to have your camera in your hands more and more. I hope my shoot demo on the Live Stage at The Photography Show (although different to this image in every way) will let the audience see that you can take your imagination and some simple equipment and think outside of the box a little to create some beautiful imagery, and that excitement and passion is something that pushes you to pick up your camera and shoot.
Thank you to Leica for asking me to be part of their very special line up at the show. It’s always an honour.
– Wayne Johns
Wayne will do two demonstrations on the Live Stage on March 22 at 4:30 and March 23 at 2:30. Wayne will do a meet and greet at the Leica stand (C31) on March 23 from 3:30 – 4:30.
Connect with Wayne on his website and Twitter.