Athlete, Coach and Model
John Wood is a UK based model and endurance athlete. He runs his own coaching business helping people who wish to be involved in marathons and triathlons; he teaches and coaches athletes in swimming and running. He swam internationally for Great Britian and competed as a Triathlete. A Different Lens Magazine is pleased to present this exclusive interview with John Wood featuring images by photographer Markus Brehm.
How did you get into modelling?
It all started from helping a couple of friends out who were getting into photography and then helping out a locally based sports magazine. My partner at the time suggested that the photos might be quite good, and that I should send them to agencies. I thought that she was being biased, but from there I've done bits and pieces. Modelling allows me to develop a creative side, which does not come naturally to me.
Tell me something about one of your favourite photoshoots?
I think that my favourite shoot was for a sports nutrition company a couple of years ago. We had to meet in the Lake District at 3 am at the foot of Skiddaw - one of the biggest hills. The reason was to get to the top for 5 to shoot at sunrise. What could have been a brutal day ended up being a lot of fun - both with the weather being stunning, the photographer and videographers being a lot of fun, and even though we worked through until 8 pm, the day whizzed by. The photos were pretty cool too!
When it comes to fashion, what are your favourite brands/designers?
I'm going to be brutally honest....I don't follow a lot of fashion! I spend 95% of my life in t-shirt and shorts - between it being comfortable and not wanting to spend masses of time on clothes. That said, it is really nice to spend time dressing up on occasion. I have a few items of Issey Miyake clothing and definitely can't go wrong with a good pair of Diesel Jeans. The best fitting shirt I own is from a company that makes custom blazers - Collier & Robinson! My one staple is that I always wear good underwear, it just makes me feel more confident, in any situation. HOM, Bluebuck and Aeropostale are some of my favourites.
What are your key achievements when it comes to modelling?
To be honest, I think that the biggest achievement for me has been enjoying myself with it all. It's not something that I ever expected to do, and to be quite honest, I was still quite self-conscious in my early 20's. Beyond that, to have shot a television commercial for Issey Miyake was a real highlight. A friend entered me in a competition on This Morning that I very nearly made the televised rounds of too - I made the top 20 but not quite the top 10!
When it comes to photoshoots, how do you prepare for them?
It very much depends on what I am doing - and who with, but mostly I just like to be chilled out. If I know that there are particular poses or shots that we are trying to get, then I'll practise a little. If it's a physique/sports shoot, then I like to try and get in a training session beforehand to get the blood flowing a little. Mostly though, being relaxed allows me to adjust to whatever it is that I need to do.
If any of our readers are interested in pursuing modelling, what would you advise?
Shoot! Join a modelling network like Model Mayhem so that you can meet photographers. Spending time in front of the camera will tell you whether it's something you want to pursue further and whether you enjoy it. It's also great for practice. Something a couple of photographers have suggested to me is to buy magazines or find shots online - google/Instagram that you like the look of, and mimic them in a mirror. The more comfortable you are in front of a mirror or a camera, the more natural the shots will be. And the best thing about it all is that you don't HAVE to pay for profile and portfolio shots. There are so many photographers who are in a similar position, it's always a learning experience. Other than this, get in front of agencies. There are plenty of small agencies around, and there seems to be a niche for all sorts. Getting in front of people helps, then it's a case of luck as to whether you are what people want...
How do you keep fit? Any fitness and diet advice to our readers?
I love my sport - always have. Because I still compete as a swimmer, I am in the water 4-5 times a week, plus 3 weights sessions. I still enjoy running so if I have a quiet week or want to get out for a change of scenery I'll stick my trainers on. As far as dietary advice is concerned, food is there to be enjoyed. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, make sure that your diet is varied but don't overly restrict yourself. So many people demonise sugar, fat, carbs, gluten etc. Very few people, in reality, have proper intolerances to things like gluten and lactose but it's fashionable to go that way. If you're aiming to lose weight, pay more attention to your intake, eat a little more protein (doesn't have to be eggs and chicken) and more veg. Just remember that the more you try and deny yourself certain things, the more you are likely to crave them.
Do you have any other hobbies outside of modelling?
Sport is a massive hobby of mine and if I'm not doing my own, I'm often following it. Other than that, I love music - especially live gigs, and a really wide variety too. I enjoy stand up comedy also, Daniel Sloss and Paul Sinha are two big favourites. I also love food and cooking. Spending an evening cooking with my girlfriend is a perfect date evening!
What inspired the photos you have done with Markus Brehm?
Markus and I came to the shoots that we've done with a few ideas each! I look through Instagram regularly and have a file of saved shots that I would like to replicate or recreate in my own way. One thing I really like is taking a female image and trying to make it a masculine equivalent - there are understandably far more models on the female side, so there are more examples there. Most of all though, I aim to have fun, and shooting with Markus is always a laugh.
What inspires you as a model?
Modelling is not something I ever expected to do, and I can't say that I have massive aims or goals. I'd love the opportunity to front a campaign, especially for a sports company. So for what inspires me, it's about seeing how I can release my creative side, what cool images I can create, something to be proud of when I'm a little older.
Tell us something about you that no one else knows.
Most people won't know that I have a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from Bath University. I also have two scars across my head - one from hitting my head on a table tennis table aged 11, the other from being bottled aged 16!