When Nairobi-born Johnny Rozsa arrived at Repton in the early 60’s it was something of a culture shock. He says: "I had never been on an aeroplane, let alone been to England, never been away from home and never worn long trousers!". At 13-years-old he threw himself into swimming, choir, French, geography, art and drama, quickly adapting to life at one of Britain's oldest public schools. 

Born and raised in Nairobi, the son of Jewish Hungarian-Czech parents, the life Johnny came from on the African continent could not have been more far removed from the world he entered into. The grandmother who raised him, Selma Leibschutz, was a survivor of Auschwitz and Terezin, and Johnny has spent lockdown turning her own 30-page notes about her life into a soon-to-be-published book that charts their intertwined lives. 

Having studied architecture and then communications in London during the late 1960s, Johnny turned his love of beauty and glamour into a career after working as an intern for Vogue, where he found inspiration in some of the world's most revered models, art directors and photographers. He soon opened Covent Garden's destination vintage clothing shop, Nostalgia, where stylists, models and artistes flocked, and his modish eye meant the shop's pieces were regularly featured in leading fashion magazines. Yearning for more, Johnny sold his share of the shop and invested in a Hasselblad camera; from here he became one of the world's most iconic photographers. 

Since the late 70’s Johnny Rozsa has been the photographer of choice for A-list celebrities from John Malkovich to Tina Turner, and Helena Bonham Carter to Hugh Grant. His epochal images have adorned the pages of Vogue, The New York Times and i-D Magazine, as well as the walls of The National Portrait Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Kunsthalle in Vienna, and the Kunstverein in Hanover. In early 2022 he will have a one-man photographic show held simultaneously in two art galleries in downtown New York. His images depict a genuine love and warmth for his subjects and his pieces are a treasured record of faces that are so familiar. 

He says of his early days behind the lens: "Often I photographed well-known actors wearing the latest threads of the day for a magazine spread. Most times, it was in conjunction with a movie or album that they were promoting. People needed me just as much as I needed them, so collaborations were mutually rewarding.” 

Johnny has been practicing Nichiren Buddhism since 1982 thanks to his professional encounter with Tina Turner, a faith that has supported him through the ups and downs of life. A true Repton Role Model, he has pursued his ambitions with unwavering passion and achieved success on a global stage. 

Photo credit: Ted Belton