Reflections Of 40 Years
Photographer Neil Johnson gets personal in upcoming show
For 40 years, Neil Johnson has made a living taking pictures.
Whether it be the architecture of Shreveport Regional Airport, the blood and sweat of oil field workers, or the latest medical devices, companies paid for Johnson’s talents – confident he would capture just the right image.
Seldom, if ever, did he disappoint. But the pictures Johnson took when he wasn’t getting paid are his most personal.
Soon, he will share those meaningful pictures with you.
“Still Photography” is the name of Johnson’s exhibit coming to Artspace in downtown Shreveport. From Aug. 1-Sept. 28, you can enjoy the work of one of our area’s most acclaimed photographers. Admission is free.
“This has nothing to do with paid photography,” Johnson explained. “It is all ... I kind of call it what my muse leads me to shoot, or what punches my buttons – moves me, touches my heart. This (show) is only about ‘that’s a beautiful thing, or that’s an interesting subject. Let me put a frame around it and capture it.’” Johnson’s exhibit will consist of approximately 70 pictures he has “captured” over the years. The Coolspace gallery in artspace is where you will find most of those images. However, in a smaller gallery will be 14 photographs – photographs with a story.
“You can sit in a reading chair in the middle of the room, with a little reading lamp, and pick up a little booklet that will have the story behind those 14 images, which are some of my favorite images that could have gone in the main gallery, but I said, ‘No, I want the story to be told about those images.’” Actually, Johnson has already told those stories. Starting in 2003, on the first day of each month, he would send out an email blast featuring a “Photo of the Month.” A few years later, by popular demand, Johnson began putting words with pictures.
“Everybody would ask for the story behind the picture, and I started writing people saying this is what this picture is all about,” Johnson says.
What Johnson is “all about” is photography. He’s been that way since 1975, when he went to work at Par Excellence Photo Lab, owned by another local photography legend, the late Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen.
“I worked there as a darkroom technician for four and a half years, and I couldn’t help but learn photography and do photography,” Johnson said, “because I would watch that second hand on the clock and at 5 o’clock, I would start printing my own pictures.
I could not have become a photographer without that job. It was just one of those weird things where when I toured the place, I went, ‘Man, this would be an awesome place to work,’ and it was. Working with photographers and for photographers, in a creative medium.”
The medium has undoubtedly changed over Johnson’s career, and he’s had a front-row seat.
“The first 20 years was film, and the second 20 years was digital,” Johnson said. “I watched it coming, and now I’m looking at it in the rearview mirror. It was right in the middle of that 40-year career. Right in the middle is when it changed for me. I thought it was going to be a slow change – it was an immediate change when I discovered how cool digital was, and Photoshop and Lightroom and programs like that.”
But when you see Johnson’s exhibit, you won’t find many pictures which have been altered by technology.
“Ninety-five percent of it is pretty much straight photography,” Johnson said. “You see an image, you put a frame around it, you capture it, and you make a print.”
In this case, a personal print. To learn more about Neil Johnson, you may visit www.njphoto.com.