From documenting the subtleties of the human condition to tragedies alike, learn how Leica Women Foto Project Juror and National Geographic contributing photographer, Lynn Johnson, frames and connects with her subjects to develop intimate yet compelling photo narratives. Explore the creative process of photography to create meaningful visual stories with Lynn Johnson and Elizabeth Krist in our upcoming Leica Akademie USA online workshop from October 1-4. Learn more here.
1. How has the pandemic impacted your creative vision?
I think the pandemic has created a different sense of time and a willingness to take risks of all kinds. Thanks to a small grant from National Geographic Society, I’ve been able to work on a story about the impact of COVID on rural healthcare on Whidbey Island, which is off the coast of Washington state. Rural health systems are actually more at risk in this crisis climate today.
As creative people, I think we always have to push ourselves to find new visual pathways, telling stories that feel relevant to a wide audience over a long period of time— especially now, as we are living through a critical passage in history. The people I’ve met on Whidbey reflect these times. Using Leica M cameras are actually important in these situations as they can be very sensitive and emotional so the quiet, small nature of the M10-P is critical.
2. How do you find inspiration to make images under today’s current circumstances?
How can we NOT be inspired? Life is upside down, and as artists and journalists, this is the time to bring all our gifts to help understanding the impact of the changes we are experiencing. I do think having more contemplative time (i.e. not time rushing through airports) is important. Generally, I read for inspiration. I don’t have the pressure of teaching children at home which is making a life balance so difficult for so many these days. But I do have the responsibility of my parents, however, and they are 95 & 96. I definitely find inspiration from them as they have survived other crises in life and in history and have a marvelous perspective to draw from in such times.
3. What sparked your interest to become a photojournalist?
I found photography as a young person. My interest was sparked by seeing the work of the FSA photographers who were primarily working in a documentary style covering the impact of the depression in the western U.S. Also, finding Leica when I was in college at RIT definitely had an impact on how I developed my eye and intention. With my Leica M in hand, documenting peoples’ lives took on new a dimension. The process seemed somehow more respectful. I’ve used Leicas for many years now for very diverse project from the scourge of landmines to a recent story about people living on the autism spectrum for National Geographic.
4. Out of all the images you’ve made, which speaks to you the most?
I really don’t think of photographs in that way. Each image is the representation of a relationship I had with someone or someplace at a specific point in time and I can’t value one over another. Also, I’m always looking to the next assignment, the next story or project and don’t dwell on past image making even though each new image is certainly built on the experience of those that came before.
5. As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, what is one advice you have for photographers to help encourage them to find inspiration through everyday moments?
Photograph, read, make art of every kind about your life, both interior and the life around you. Image making has to be practiced. Try new methods and ways of thinking but DO something! At times like these, we can become paralyzed, and it’s important to remember that creativity is a discipline and a practice. I find it also helps to move physically – do yoga, bike, walk—moving your body, changes and activates your mind.
6. As a Leica Women Foto Project juror, what makes the female perspective important to our collective visual story?
I believe women are the changemakers. We are responsible, and using our creative lives to add more diversity to the perspectives available is essential, especially in these times. I also believe that, we as women, need to be visible, not just our images. Remember, every individual woman can contribute a layer of awareness from her own unique perspective on so many of the issues that impact us every day—from lack of racial & gender sensitive healthcare to sexual violence to inequality in the workplace. Learn more about the Leica Women Foto Project here.
Photographing with Intention Workshop with Lynn Johnson & Elizabeth Krist
Online Workshop | October 1-4, 2020
Explore the creative process of photography to create meaningful visual stories with award-winning National Geographic contributing photographer, Lynn Johnson and acclaimed photo editor Elizabeth Krist in this online weekend masterclass. Emphasis will be placed on the concept of “working with intention” with a focus on critical skills of photographic image making, sensitivity to light, design of the frame, and the power of the emotional moment. Most importantly, we will discuss how to get “unstuck” creatively so you can advance your personal style and build visually driven projects.