Photographer, Vivian Johnson, is as well-traveled as she is published; she and her work have been nearly everywhere! Today she shares a few behind-the-scenes tidbits about photographing a book during the pandemic and where her journey into interior photography began. Keep scrolling to see her incredible work and learn more about this fantastic creative.
Tell us a bit about the journey that led you to a career in photography.
I fell in love with photography in high school, but went a different direction for a while. I found my way back to photography 15 years ago when I studied photojournalism in San Francisco. After finishing school, I worked for several newspapers and very briefly photographed weddings. I discovered I loved shooting interiors after photographing a few homes my brother rehabbed in Portland and photographing assignments for the Home and Garden section of the newspapers that hired me.
You’ve found your niche capturing interiors and decor, but your portraits and lifestyle photos are stunners as well. Which was your first love, and which is your true love?
My first love was photojournalism, which is documentary and essentially lifestyle. I love shooting interiors that tell a story of the person who lives in the home. So, I guess lifestyle interiors is my true love.
You were the photographer for Shira Gill’s book Minimalista, and we get to see the beautiful results of your hard work. Can you give us a behind-the-scenes idea of what this process looked like for you?
Shooting for a book has been a lot of fun. I’m traveling a lot more and meeting really cool people along the way. I’ve had to rethink what my essential gear is for the shoots since I’m traveling and trying to go as light as possible. That is a challenge. When I’m home, I’m able to fill my car with all the possible gear I might need, but I can’t take it all on an airplane. When shooting a book, you need to think about cover options while shooting. At each location, we talk about whether it’s a potential for the cover and how we should approach it. After each location, I submit unedited proofs to the publisher. After the photography is complete, the layout will start. Once completed, they’ll send me a list of the images they need for the book, and I’ll have to color correct and retouch the images.
You’ve been featured in several well-known publications. What tips do you have for other creatives reading today who want to pitch their work and grow their brand visibility?
Most important is to hire a professional photographer who specializes in interiors. After you have quality photos, reach out to the publications where your work fits. Send a quick email to an editor about the project and a couple small jpgs. Another option is to work with a PR person who has relationships with publications and can pitch the projects for you.
Do you have a playlist or podcast that fuels your editing sessions?
My go-to’s, when I just want to focus and be productive, are Sonos radio stations. The Third Man Records Station is a good mix of garage rock, soul and psychedelic, and when I want a little more funk, I listen to the Brittney Howard station.
Your bio mentions that you will travel for work. Is there a particular destination you hope to visit and photograph in 2022?
I already have a lot of travel booked for 2022! I was in Mexico City at the beginning of January for a photo shoot. I highly recommend visiting. I’ll be shooting on the East Coast and Europe this Spring. I’m excited to be visiting and photographing homes in Stockholm and Portugal – two places I’ve never been, along with Paris and London (where I’ve been several times). Morocco and Turkey are high on my travel list as well.
Like what you see? Take a peek at the talent behind the story… Photography: Vivian Johnson · Interior Design for Feature Image: Emily Kates Design
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