Johnny Nuñez Bio
Johnny Nuñez Bio
Johnny Nuñez has been called one of Wire Image's top five connected photographers. Born June 29, 1971 in Brooklyn, NY, he persevered through the hardships of adoption and poverty, with a strong faith in God and a dedication to succeed, to become a music industry legend.
Johnny was raised in Greenpoint Brooklyn where he attended PS 34. During his teenage years his family moved to Long Island where he graduated from Ross High School and went on to obtain a liberal arts degree from Suffolk Community College. Johnny is the proud father of two children, Jeremiah, 10 and Joya, 9 in partnership with his wife Dr. Angelique Anderson, double board certified for internal medicine and pediatrics.
Johnny’s road to photography was a bumpy ride, with a series of rough let downs, a visionary prayer and life changing encounters. In 1996 he was expelled from Nassau Community College for whistle blowing on racist behavior he had witnessed, followed by being kicked out of his rented room and being dumped by his girlfriend. Left with no other option, he moved into his car. Contemplating selling drugs to earn money he prayed to God for clarity and direction. The next morning, he saw a vision of a camera. Combined with reading “Unlimited Power” by Anthony Robbins he was further motivated to pursue this vision.
Then on the suggestion of an acquaintance, he started visiting the restaurant Mecca on Avenue A at Houston, a gathering spot for music industry movers and shakers. It was there that he would be launched into his life long career as a celebrity photographer and chronicler of hip hop.
He quickly came to the attention of music royalty and in 2002 began traveling the world as the personal photographer to Rocafella Records co-founder Damon Dash. Other clients followed including Spike Lee, Michael Jordan, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Drake, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Naomi Campbell and Lebron James to name a few. By 2011 Johnny was hired to be the official photographer to Jay-Z and LeBron’s Two Kings Dinner, an annual event during All-Star weekend.
More than just a photographer, his exuberant charm, love for music, masterful networking and commitment to not posting an unflattering photo has endeared him to many celebrities. This sentiment is best expressed in the words of Ice-T, noting in a New York Times article, “When I see Johnny, I feel like I’m seeing an old friend,”, “He’s a real cool cat and everybody, and I mean everybody, knows Mr. Nuñez” Fab 5 Freddy “Johnny Nuñez is one of hip-hop’s most well-known and liked photographers. Most of his subjects shout him out as they pose for his camera at the various celebrity-filled events he covers.”
“Culture Shifter.” “Authentic.” “Legendary.”
These are merely a few of the countless compliments that have been spoken to describe the supremely influential, world-renowned photographer Johnny Nuñez, whose body of work already spans more than two decades. Best known for his fresh, candid photographs of musicians, politicians, socialites and other celebrities, Johnny has helped redefine the role of the modern photographer, especially within the world of Hip Hop and the optimal landscapes within its reach. Landing a spot in a published photograph by Johnny Nuñez is viewed by many as a golden opportunity that garners greater exposure and interest; in many cases, it has even proven to help launch someone’s career. There is no doubt that having Johnny Nuñez capture the photos at an event adds significant credibility to the organizer(s) and/or talent, and it’s considered to be a salient part of the protocol for success through promotion.
With every snap and every flash, Johnny gives us an insight into the world of the person portrayed in his photo. While lesser-known aspiring artists and influencers are constantly vying for the chance to be captured on camera by Johnny, the respect Johnny gets is mainly evident in the exclusive access he gets to superstars who are otherwise private. One of Nuñez’s great talents is in building the relationships of trust with the persons he photographs, and as a result the audience encounters emotionally revelatory images of people who usually strictly guard their privacy and prefer to face the world only through their carefully constructed public persona. Whether it is Warren Buffet or Kanye West, Lil’ Kim or Oprah Winfrey, Paris Hilton or Spike Lee, Johnny Nuñez uncovers a fresh, unexpected side to their personalities. Nuñez’s pictures are striking in the diversity of subjects he portrays.
From exclusive parties in the Hamptons to the bustling nightclubs of Manhattan, the beaches of Cannes or the streets of London, he is able to capture the richness of human emotion where others would miss it. Nuñez brings us with particular generosity and panache a slice of American society that is fascinating yet elusive for much of the world: the world of African-American celebrity, from Hip-Hop and R&B to film and television, from fashion and entertainment industry to the world of politics. He crosses many boundaries in order to deliver an authentic, honest moment.
What links Johnny Nuñez particularly poignantly to the people he portrays is the classic American story of the rise of a self-made person. More than any other nation on our planet, the US epitomizes the chance for a person to rise from humble beginnings, through perseverance, determination, and hard work, to the pinnacle of fame. Growing up an adopted child and the only black kid in his neighborhood, Johnny Nunez is particularly sensitive to the many barriers and obstacles faced by someone of a minority background on such a journey.
Due to the visual nature of his art and his background as an adopted child, Johnny Nuñez supports charity programs for the visually impaired and for children in foster care. His is, profoundly, a truly American story, reflecting the ideal and the promise of this nation, showcasing what a person can reach “once upon a time in America.”.
When not taking photographs, Johnny is on the grind with a number of projects and business ventures such as collaborations with New Balance, G Shock and being featured as a character in the video game Def Jam: Icon.
In 2016 he was appointed by Michelle Obama as an ambassador and mentor artist with Turnaround Arts, a public-private partnership led by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to help turn around America's struggling schools. He was appointed alongside of such luminaries as Dave Matthews, Usher Raymond, and Joshua Bell. As part of the program he represented the U.S. in a diplomatic exchange in Cuba where he met with Cuban artists and photographers to discuss the craft.
Johnny’s hard work and legendary candid shots continue to bring him recognition and exciting collaborations. In 2019 Johnny collaborated with internationally renowned artist Domingo Zapata on a series of photos shown at Art Basel.
In 2020, Johnny was honored by a shout-out in Nas’ recent release and grammy winning song “27 Summers” with lyrics “Premier movies with my man DeNiro And Johnny Nuñez got all the pictures”.
In 2022, Nuñez became the first Afro-Latino photographer to have his photos displayed by the Grammys and honored by the Recording Academy’s affiliate organization, the Black Music Collective. In November 2022, Johnny’s photo of Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars accepting their Grammy for “Record of the Year” was chosen as one of CNN’s coveted 2022 A Year in Pictures list.
Johnny started off 2023 strong by launching JohnnyNunez.com with his first e-commerce store selling high-quality prints and merchandise. In 2023 Nuñez will be touring the country with his never-before seen archive collection, and he will be releasing his long-awaited first book by the end of the year.