Inspirations: Johnny Summers

I’m swamped with photo gigs, but I wanted to take the time to share my inspiration behind my shoot with Johnny Summers.

If I did my job right, you shouldn’t need this explanation to “get” this. Johnny’s got an impressive tattooed physique. His port is filled with the predictable shots of him on motorcycles and partying like a rock star. Standard stuff that shows off his skin art, but nothing really creative. When I saw Johnny, my mind immediately thought about the old Barnum & Bailey circus sideshow posters. Another great example of how I tend to think differently than your average photographer ;3)
After gathering scans of actual posters as reference, I set out to recreate that look. There are three big factors that contribute to the finished look:

  1. Johnny’s tattoos
  2. The costume
  3. The graphics

Johnny’s shirt was actually purchased in the women’s section of a thrift store. I really lucked out, it was a perfect replica of an
vintage men’s bathing suit. In addition, I had a handlebar mustache buried at the bottom of my makeup kit. How often do you get to use a handlebar mustache? After Johnny slicked her hair and applied some eyeliner, the look was complete.
The graphics took the longest to complete. Afterall, I was trying to digitally replicate hand-painted artwork. I think I did a great job. It’s tongue-in-cheek and really frames the shot well.
Oh, and one more fun fact: we shot these in Johnny’s hotel room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Johnny’s girlfriend had a blast watching us take these. Just another reason why a complete vision matters more than a fancy schmancy studio or location.