Every so often, we will talk to a member of the group and try to see what makes them tick – or rather, what makes them click.
First up is Stephanie Johnson from Iowa. Stephanie has been shooting for some years. She describes herself as “a free and adventurous spirit who loves landscape photography, the written word, and the natural world.”
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us, Stephanie – AotB.
AotB. How did you first develop an interest in photography and can you describe that “moment” when you knew that photography was something you just had to do?
I’ve been interested in photography for more than 20 years. I got my first ‘serious’ camera, a film SLR, back in 1997, then made the switch to digital in about 2005, and I’ve dabbled with photography off and on over the years. I’ve wanted to be more serious and committed to it, and I’ve made attempts to do that over the years, but other life circumstances prevented me from being able to give it the full attention it deserved. But, in my heart, whenever I’ve thought about what it is I’m supposed to do with my life, what my passion is, I’ve always come back to photography. So, two years ago, when a major change occurred in my life, I began taking steps back toward my heart’s desire, and it’s been an amazing journey.
AotB. What kind of photography is your favourite and why?
I’ve always considered myself a landscape photographer, but over the past year I’ve stepped outside the box a bit and have done some different things. One thing I’ve been doing more of with the camera is ICM work, and it has really changed the way I ‘see’ and has boosted my creativity by leaps and bounds.
AotB. What type of cameras do you shoot with and why?
My primary camera is a Canon 5D Mark III for landscapes and some ICM work. But, I also use a Canon 7D interchangeably for certain types of shots, such as astrophotography and for keeping the longer lens on for the occasional wildlife shot. I also use an advance compact Canon G7X for a lot of my ICM work. The Canon G7X has really been a game-changer for me. Because of its portability, I find I take it places I don’t necessarily always want to take the DSLR out to, and it has really helped me become more creative in my approach to photography.
AotB. What is it that interests you most about photography?
Photography as art is what interests me most, really. I see it as an artistic endeavor…not just capturing moments or scenes. It’s a way to express the artist within me in much the same way a painter paints, or a writer writes. Photography is the means, the method, and the mode for my creative approach to life.
AotB. Is there something you always ask yourself or think just before you push the button?
Probably the one biggest thing I think about before pushing the button is what the histogram looks like. When I first started out in photography I never used the histogram…I didn’t even really know what it was. But, as I’ve progressed and grown in the craft, I’ve become very mindful of the histogram to be sure I’m not losing detail in the shadows or blowing out the highlights in any given image. I don’t generally do a lot of blending or stacking of bracketed images. Most of my images are one shot images, so the histogram is a very important tool for me.
AotB. What else influences you other than photography?
Art, literature, music…all of the creative and liberal arts are huge influences for me. I was raised in an artistic environment…my step-father was a painter…and I played music and studied literature.
“I have a tremendous love and passion for the arts, in all forms, and that influences the work I do with the camera”
AotB. How would you describe your style?
In landscape photography, my style is introspective, reflective, minimal, perhaps low key, and sometimes moody. I don’t generally tend to shoot the grandiose scenes, with color overload. I find my approach to be a bit more subtle, and lately I’m more drawn to shooting intimate landscapes than grand scale landscapes.
In my ICM work, my style is a bit more abstract and much more creative. When I’m doing ICM work, I feel like a painter, painting with my camera and light. And, the ICM images I’m drawn to create are very non-descript. For my own work, I find hints or impressions of what it is I’m shooting to be the most pleasing. It’s really more about color, tones, lines, movement, and light for me. The more abstract and less identifiable the better, for me.
AotB. Has photography influenced you as a person, and how?
I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery the past couple years, and photography has been one of the greatest influences on me as a person, as an individual, and as a creative. Photography has helped me grow in so many different aspects of my life, and my work as improved greatly as a result, because I’ve been open to sharing with and learning from others. Photography, art in general, is very personal and introspective, but it can also be a collaborative effort when joining with other photographers, artists, and creatives to become better ‘seers’ at what we do.
AotB. Do you ever collaborate with other photographers?
I haven’t done a lot of collaborating with other photographers on any kinds of projects, but I have collaborated with other photographers to get out and shoot different locations. I’m very open and receptive to the idea of collaborating with others, though. I’ve even discussed collaborating with a couple other photographers on some ideas, although nothing has ever materialized on that front. But, it is something I’m very open to and would love the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals on some projects that would help each of us grow and move our creative lives forward.
AotB. Do you have any formal training in photography?
I do not have any formal training in photography. I’ve attended a few location specific photography workshops, where I’ve received guidance and support from professional photographers. But, for the most part, I am completely self-taught.
AotB. What software do you use to edit your photographs and how important is editing to your final images?
I use Lightroom to do all the edits for my landscape work. I’ve not come to grips with luminosity or layer masks yet, so I don’t use Photoshop for editing my landscape images. Those are all completely edited in Lightroom. For the abstract and ICM images I create, I will initially edit them in Lightroom the same as I do for the landscape images, but then I sometimes take them into Photoshop to apply different creative filters, depending on the effect I want to achieve.
AotB. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create your imagery?
Nature is what inspires me and gives me ideas to create my imagery. I love to be in nature. That’s where I feel most at home in this world…connected to the natural world. But, I also find ideas and inspiration from my mindful and somewhat zen-like approach to life. It is this approach to life that drives me to create and to make connections between the spiritual and the material worlds, between the unseen and the visible.
AotB. What online spaces do you use to promote your work?
I have accounts with most of the standard social media outlets for promoting and sharing my work…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, 500px…as well as my own website – www.stephjohnphoto.com. All of my social media sites follow the same format @stephjohnphoto. I tend to post most on Facebook, but I’ve been trying to use Instagram and Twitter a bit more. I do prefer using Facebook more for the interaction, though. I don’t find Twitter or Instagram to be as interactive.
AotB. Tell us about something you’re still learning?
Every day, every outing, every image is a learning process. Never stop learning. The moment we think we know all there is to know about anything is the moment we stop growing. There is always something to learn…whether it’s learning a new function on the camera, new ways of seeing light and composition, new editing techniques and processes, or just simply exploring the work of other photographers and artists to understand their processes and vision, learning is the lifeline for the true artist.
AotB. Some photographers say that they see the world differently, and that they have a different perspective on life. What is your perspective on the world and on life?
I’ve actually thought about this quite a bit recently, especially as I’ve been drawn to create the abstract work that I’ve done. Life is a bit fuzzy, and the world is not really what it appears to be, and I think this is what comes through in my abstract work…this perspective that life can’t be easily defined or viewed in concrete terms. Reality is elusive and different from one moment to the next, and from one person to the next. I tend to be a bit more philosophical than most, I suppose, and I bring this perspective into my photography as art, because I ‘see’ with the inner eyes as much as, or more than, the physical eyes. Art and philosophy parallel one another if we take time to see beyond what is there. And, what is there will be different for you than it will be for me, That’s really one of the great beauties of art…that we each bring our own unique vision, interpretation, meaning, experience, and expectation to it, and a single piece of art can carry with it an infinite multitude of possibilities.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Stephanie. If anyone else would like to share something with the members, feel free to contact us here. If you wish to ask Stephanie something or just leave a comment, you can do so below.
You can see more of Stephanies work at the following spaces.