Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re based out of?
My name is CJ Johnson and I’m a filmmaker, photographer, and brand consultant. I’m based out of Los Angeles, California. A little about myself, one of my main career (and life) goals are to inspire people and make an worldwide impact with my stories. I love storytelling. When I’m not doing it with words, I’m doing it with images. I also enjoy bing-watching tv shows, hanging out with my family/friends, and traveling.
How did you get started in photography?
I actually used to hate photography. In fact, I remember in art school telling myself, that I would never pick up a still camera, lol. Because of my background in the entertainment business I much preferred the motion of things. Then one day, I started using photography as a hobby to give me a creative outlet. Then I started taking more behind the scenes photos of my projects, which evolved into me showcasing promotional photos. Then this sort of evolution of artistry happened where my interest in fashion, business, and traveling played a larger role in my photographs. I then started relearning the process of shooting and experimenting on professional still cameras. Respected the craft and it just took off from there.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from people and other beautiful images from photographers/iphoneographers. I just love faces and the aura an individual carries with them. I also use Instagram and VSCO grids as a great source for discovering inspiring images. I see so many stunning photos that touch me deeply, it’s easy to stay inspired. Plus… I live near the beach so catching a sunrise/sunset or two can definitely keep you motivated, lol.
This set of photographs “California Dreamin'” is totally rad. What’s the story behind these photos?
With every photo shoot, I’m searching for moments of introspection and insight. I love to see the natural beauty of someone’s look when they’re thinking. With this particular set of photos, these are all subjects I captured in a moment of them feeling powerful. Rebellious. I like that sense of defiance and individuality. I always want to showcase the snapshot of someone’s personality. With the various, beautiful Los Angeles backgrounds to use to my advantage it always adds a sense of cinematic quality that I love.
Do you have a favorite shoot in particular?
Great question! I meet and work with so many fantastic different people on shoots it’s really hard to pick a favorite. But, I think the trips I take where I’m shooting for a campaign or for personal reasons are usually my favorites. There was one particular impromptu road trip to Seattle, Washington I went on that pops in my head. The road trip was taken for the sole purpose of spending one day in Seattle and ending up at a local bar. Photographing that journey and experience is my most satisfying shooting experience thus far.
Any crazy moments on set that comes to mind?
I’ve experienced a ton of crazy moments, lol. For sure. There was one that was that happened recently that was pretty odd. I was shooting at Vasquez Rocks with a model. We were capturing implied nudity and she was wearing lingerie in most of our shots. We went out pretty early (or at least I thought we did). As soon, as we got there, vehicles filled with hikers and tourists poured into the parking lot. If that wasn’t enough, a park ranger drives past us in the parking lot. She circled back to us and gave my model shit for having expired tags. We eventually went on our way and found a pretty secluded and quiet place to shoot. We got into a great groove of shooting together. At one point, my model hides behind a large boulder. She’s slipping in and out of lingerie when out of nowhere some random kid appears. He’s searching for something. Moves on once he finds it. Then another kid comes right after. Then another. Turns out there was some huge scavenger hunt happening. It was pretty hilarious.
If you can have one super power, what would it be and you gotta tell us why?
It would have to be telekinesis. I think it would make my life a little easier to move things with my mind in all avenues. I’m pretty sure it would make me lazier but, who cares because I can move things with my mind? Plus, it would take my passion for practical jokes to another level.
Where would we find you 10pm on a Friday night?
I could be anywhere, lol. There is a good chance you’ll find me at a sushi bar in Santa Monica. Or I could be enjoying the night life at a house party, bar, or pub. On long weeks (especially when I’m on assignment) I’ll be at home. Where I can just as easily turn onto a hermit. Who doesn’t like an artistic hermit, lol?
What’s your top 5 jams currently playing on your iPod?
“Blessings” (feat. Drake) Big Sean
“i” Kendrick Lamar
“Know Yourself” Drake
“Let It Happen” Tame Impala
We want more CJ Johnson in our life! Where else can we find you?