About John Rawson

In Conversation : Anthony Mascolo speaks with John Rawson

Infringe magazine interview ... https://www.infringe.com/john-rawson/
Watch on you tube ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOrCKnWIMhE.

Could you give us a little back ground of how you started it all?
I started taking pictures in the mid 90’s after a successful 15 years in hair!

Where & Who did you work for?
I started in a small town salon but soon wanted to move to London because I loved cutting hair – I went on several courses – Sassoon’s – Leanord’s – and finally Alan International and they offered me a job at the Academy in Knightsbridge – I was 19!  Alan International were very strong in London in the 70’s & 80’s – we had 5 schools and I think 15-20 salons?  I became Art Director aged 20yrs old or so and headed the team – we worked extensively worldwide teaching and presenting shows for Alan International and Wella.

How did you get into the world of hairdressing photography?
At Alan International we produced major photographic and Video Collections showing our work and this ultimately led to my passion for creating images…I was always interested in Photography.. had a good camera when I was young and always was “image” obsessed! As soon as I decided to move out of hairdressing it was the only route for me..

Have you always worked in hairdressing?
No.. I love Fashion in general and try and do as much Editorial as I can although our main direction is Hair & Beauty..

What stimulates your creativity/inspiration?
Mostly fashion but I’m a film and music nut! Both my eldest son and my wife are artist’s so I’m constantly bombarded with inspiration from that – I’m very attuned to light and how it affects mood

Which photographers inspire you?
Loads! All the great B&W image makers are a constant resource-Peter Lindberg I love and Sante D’Orazio is amazing.. Love the feel of his work....

What is your favourite hair type to photograph, curly, straight or something else?
Innovative/Directional/Beautiful hair..

Do you ever disagree with your client’s image suggestions?
Of Course... The key thing is always to create something that feel’s ‘right’ for everyone.. we have a very long established pattern of working and believe that everything that creates great collections is in the preparation so we meet and meet and discuss ideas etc until every element feels right.. once you get to the studio it’s too late although spontaneous things do happen which sometimes surprise and are often amazing..

How many hairdressers have won awards that you have been involved in?
Not Sure exactly but a LOT!! We’ve had about 30 or so wins in the BHA.. recently won in Germany and won both the American and Canadian hairdresser of the year this year..

Being the photographer who has produced countless winning hairdressers, it seems as though you have deciphered the key elements to a winning collection, could you let us in on it?
Winning is about “everything” – there are so many elements to producing a good collection and if one small piece is missing then the “whole” is ruined – we spend a lot of time on the concept and ‘prep’ elements – I’m probably one of the few photographers that has a full-time PA and that investment means we can get things right prior to actually shooting the collection which is invaluable

Could you talk us through the process when working with hairdressers to create their collection? Is it similar to hairdressers using a mood board prior putting everything together?
There’s an obsession about ‘mood’ boards that I find a bit odd! Very rarely does a board end up as reality! They are often too diverse and eclectric to really be of use – find a single image that you love and then get the best team you can find to interpret it – something magical often comes from that

Do you think British hairdressing still leads the world?
I think british haidressing still thinks it does! However there are some amazingly talented teams all over the world.. Some great stuff coming out of Australia... Japan and the rest of Asia have some fantastic talent - I’ve recently shot with a real talent in Germany and know there’s some great work coming out of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.. We’ve done lots of work recently in Canada and the US and thats been very inspiring...

What is an average day like when you are on a shoot?
Arrive early-Leave late! It’s always different each day depending on if it’s Location or studio based.. It’s odd because it involves period’s of intense activity followed by periods of waiting which is often tiring and can be difficult but when it’s all buzzing it’s great!!!!

Which hairdressers do you admire?
I think Akin Konizi and Angelo Seminara are the most creative and forward thinking here at the present... Emiliano Vitale in Australia and Alain Pereque in the US/Canada.. I’ve also worked a lot with Sharon Peake in the UK and think she’s extremely talented...

Do you prefer black and white or colour?
Most of the iconic images I love are B&W but I shoot mostly in Colour.. They both have their good and bad points and challenges...

Is there anything or anyone you would really like to photograph?
Yes.. Lots and lots!!! I’ve got huge ambitions still to fulfil - love to shoot more location work in some far off amazing locations....

Do you play music when taking photographs and of so, what’s your favourite?
Yes. Its extremely important and set’s the mood of the day so generally in the morning we’ll have a bit of Chill/Cafe del Mar etc and then crank it up through some house or a bit of The Black Keys.. It depends on the feel of the shoot.. it’s very very important in creating the right feel in the images...

What makes a classic photograph?
Iconic images are about capturing a “moment” and everything has to be right.. the right girl/the right styling/the right hair/MU etc.. everything in Harmony....

How do you deal with images that you create that you are not happy with, like if a hairdressers model didn’t look good?
Well, fortunately we work with the best retouchers and they are incredible so we can do some pretty amazing things BUT it’s very important not to rely on it.. I really believe that the image should be captured “In Camera” as much as possible and the retouch makes it even better .. it’s not a magic wand!

What advice would you give to hairdressers who are looking for the right photographer? What should and shouldn’t they expect?
Discuss! It’s about both parties bouncing idea’s off each other and seeing if it “feels” right – Also find someone who’s work you love – I never understand when people want to book me for a commission then show me someone else’s work! The photographer should be able to suggest the job/help with model’s etc – if they don’t then walk away!

What would you be doing if this wasn’t your chosen career?
Probably something to do with Fashion/PR/ Design of some description.. although when I left school I wanted to be an aircraft engineer!!!!!

Finally tell us something we don’t know about you?
Love football.. Especially my beloved Liverpool....