An Interview with Award Winning Photographer Scott Johnson
RISE: I see your journey into photography started at the age of 22, can you tell us more about why photography as a profession and how did you start out?
I started working in a professional photo lab at the age of 18 , and from there I met a chap that worked on cruise ships. He told me all of the stories and as a young single man I liked the sound of it , so joined a fleet or photographers and sailed the world for 18 months taking pictures in the most exotic locations and learning my craft. There are things that I do now still when I’m shooting weddings, that I learned whilst on cruise ships and felt it was the perfect platform to learn my craft and honed my skills as a full time professional photographer .
RISE: You have certainly worked your way up through the ranks in photography and I have enjoyed watching your journey, tell us why you have felt it important to push yourself through qualifications to reach the highest accolade of Fellowship?
I’m very competitive in every aspect of my life. Even at school when I was only 10, I broke and still hold the long jump record for my Junior School! So really that is the start of my competitive nature. It is no different in my photography career, as when I was working at the professional photo lab I was always wondering what the letters after peoples names meant , so I did some research and found out that you could be qualified through associations. I don’t believe people book me because I have a fellowship , I believe they booked me from the work that I can shoot on a wedding day because I have gone through the qualification process and learned so much in posing , lighting and presentation To deliver my clients the very best each and every time .
RISE: How long do you thing it took you develop your style and how would you sum your style up in 3 words?
Timeless, Elegant, Classic
RISE: Do you have an iconic image you have taken that you are most proud of?
Yes! The image I’m most proud of in recent years is the image that one first place at WPPI in Las Vegas in 2019. I’m most proud of it because it was taken on a very wet and windy wedding day. I don’t believe there are any excuses not to deliver because the weather is poor on a wedding day and this image is proof of that. The only limit on a wedding day for a photographer is their own creativity.
RISE: What would you say the most important aspect of photography is?
I think client experience is much more important these days than the images that we present. We could all take fantastic images on wedding days and those of us that shoot in the same venues time and time again are always going to produce slightly different work to our competition, but feel what sells us more than anything is how the client experience is and the level of customer service that we provide our bride and grooms. This goes back to my cruise ship days where we had to deliver 6 star service at all times so it has been ingrained in me right from the start that experience Trump’s everything .
RISE: As well as a successful business, I see you have won many competitions over recent years, do you feel competitions are important?
Again, this goes back to my competitive nature. Competitions aren’t for everybody much like qualifications but I have a competitive nature , and overall, I love to win! Competition is the most frustrating thing you ever do as it is often the case where our best work doesn’t score well with judges , because we are entering the wrong images. The key to success in any competition Is to listen to judges feedback, take criticism well, and print your images properly having done numerous rounds of test printing. I also believe that winning a competition is useless unless you market it properly, as what’s the point of winning a prestigious competition And not telling anybody about it! As photographers, we are often too shy to brag about our achievements , but if you know me, this is not the case for me!
RISE: You also run your own wedding training, how with everything you have going on do you find the time to train others?
I fell into the trap early on of trying to do everything at the same time, enter competitions I was a member of the board at the British Institute of Professional Photography, train other photographers and judge competitions all over the world , and I fell into the trap of taking my eye off my own business and it suffered as a result. I’ve made that mistake once before, and I will not be making that mistake again , as I am much better at saying no to opportunities if it will be detrimental to my business. It’s all too easy to be caught up once you have success, but then the second you take your eye off your business, and your bookings suffer, your revenue suffers, because you are chasing the dream then what is the point. This goes right back to client experience , after all , this is what we are all in business for .
RISE: I see you also are an Ambassador for a few fabulous photography companies, tell us a little more about that?
I’m very fortunate to be one of Fujifilm’s official x photographers , there are only 15 of us in the UK , and it’s a real privilege to be an ambassador for such a great camera company. I’ve been given some great opportunities with Fujifilm , such as being flown to Lisbon For the European press launch of the xh one back in 2018 where I had to run workshops for all of europe’s leading press at The European launch to explain how the camera worked and set up images for the journalists for their magazines and newspapers . I’m also an ambassador with Fundy software and Studio Ninja . I can’t see myself doing too much more as all three of these take up time and I have commitments with all three. If I were to take anymore I would be spreading myself too thin, not only between my brands but also the business which is the most important thing .
RISE: You have recently taken a role within the British Institute of Professional Photography, can you tell us more about?
When Martin Baynes took over The Institute one thing he wanted to do was clear the decks and install new directors and new people to run various parts of the Institute . I was very privileged to be asked to be chair of qualifications within the Institute . It’s something I’m immensely proud of as someone who has gone through the qualification process I can understand the lifelong and lasting benefit that has on individuals in their photography and business. To be in a position to help others through that journey is fantastic. Thankfully, I’m not the one that has to judge the images anymore , but will step in if needed, I’m just the guy that has to give the good and bad news on qualification day! My role is to pick the team of judges and help motivate and maintain standards within the Institute and above all integrity and transparency throughout the qualification process to the outside world .
RISE: I am delighted to have you as an Ambassador for RISE, why did you feel it important to support an organisation for Female Photographers?
Photography is a very male orientated profession, and think as much as there are very high profile female photographers in all associations, it can be a daunting place if you are starting out in the profession. I think RISE is a great Association for photographers that are perhaps put off by the associations that are already out there, but most of all, I think it’s a great place for like minded individuals to network and get together and move industry forwards .
RISE: If you could give one piece of advice to those reading this, what would it be?
Never be too proud to ask for help!
I think 2020 he’s been a gut punch for everybody in this profession , myself included. The sad fact is, not everyone is going to make it out of this crisis. We have to adapt and it helped create new opportunities for us as photographers and businesses to move forwards and make the best of this situation. Being stubborn, and sitting on your morals of how things ‘used to be ‘ will not get anybody anywhere. The sooner we can all adapt and evolve our business and prepare the sooner we will all get back to some sort of normality, whatever that may be. Never be too proud to ask for help and never be too proud to admit that you are struggling. We are a massive community, with a lot of people are willing to help where needed , so never be too shy to ask for help or advice.
RISE: Finally Scott, what is next for you and your career?
We have had to totally re evaluate what we are doing, as mentioned the global pandemic took the wind out of all of our sails. For me , I think just surviving this will be a massive achievement.
As long as we can continue to deliver quality customer service on the weddings that we are able to shoot in 2020 then I will be very happy . 2021 will be an exceptionally busy year so we are preparing for that and implementing new ideas and structures within the business to make sure we can hit the ground running once we do start to get shooting properly again.
Scott it has been an absolute pleasure, I would like to wish you all the very best with your new role as Head of qualifications and I look forward to seeing where you and The Edge Photography go next.
As a member of RISE, you can now access Scotts videos in the members area, where he talks about, what is needed for qualifications and how what is involved in the process.
Connect with Scott