Award-winning photographer, Jamie Johnson, specializes in children's documentary projects as well as wet plate collodion photography. She travels the world capturing images of children and their childhood whilst creating lifelong connections. We connected with Jamie to discover more about her passion and focus on the faces of the next generation.
Hi Jamie! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your work? How does fine art/documentary photography tie into your identity?
I started many years ago shooting actors' headshots when I was at NYU. I moved to LA to pursue a different career but continued to shoot headshots to pay the bills. As time went on I began shooting children, before I knew it I was photographing children at all the movie studios and my schedule was so busy I had no time for anything else. Eventually, I started shooting documentary work about children’s lives throughout the world. I photographed the children of the tribes in the rainforests in Ecuador the tribes of India and the young monks of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, the Eagle hunters of Mongolia, the Gypsy kids in France, and the Irish traveler children.
My focus has always been on children and people that live on the fringe of society, whether I’m doing documentary work, portraits or fine art.
Seeing your extensive background in photography and coverage from around the globe, which country or place was your favorite? Which photo holds the greatest memory?
I spent five years working on my book, “Growing Up Travelling” with the Irish Traveller children living in caravans in Ireland. That was a very special project as I spent so much time returning to Ireland and bonding with these kids. I’m currently in the middle of a project focusing on the Roma children of France, looking forward to getting back to France next month.
We're excited to see the new project once it's released! What do you aim to capture at the moment of your subject's photograph being taken?
I’m really interested in people’s stories. Who they are, what their lives are like, what their traditions and their dreams are? I really want to show who I am photographing, in their face, in their eyes, everyone has a story.
Your talent in showcasing your subject's story is mesmerizing! Where do you find inspiration? What artists/photographers, current or past, do you find to have informed and/or inspired your practice the most?
Diane Arbus was the first photographer I became obsessed with. The people in her photos all have a story and the photos alone say it all. She was a genius.
Why did you choose these individuals as the first photos to mint on Portion? Why is it important to you that they are here as NFTs?
With the subject being identity, these were the first photos I thought of.
Identity is a strange thing. We think about who we are, who we want to be and who people think we are.
On several trips to London I have always been curious of the London punk scene. Who were these kids. Its 2022, the times of the Sex pistols was decades ago, so I decided to make friends and find out who these London punks were. And guess what? Not one of them were from London. These rebellious 17 and 18 year old kids came to London from all over the world to be London punks. My first two friends was Stitch and Sarah. Stitch came from Chicago and Sarah came from Italy. Stitch dropped out of high school and really got in to the punk music scene and saved all his money to fly to London and squat with other street punks. Sarah, came from a wealthy family in Italy and her life was very rigid, she visited London once with her parents and watched the punks sitting on the curb and wanted to be them, so when she turned 18 she too moved to London to squat. Thomas came to London from the Bronx to work on the runway, and he does here and there and between modeling jobs he panhandles in Camden Market. Fish is from Germany and Zombie is from Brazil and so on and so. Much like moving to NY in the 80's to be able to express your true self, these kids left their homes to choose their identity.
How have NFTs changed the way you think about your own practice?
With the recent success I have had with NFTs, I really think my life has changed forever. Photographers always think about archiving their work, saving their digital files on multiple hard drives, preserving their negatives, etc., now we live in a world where your art can be archived forever on the blockchain. How lucky are we to live in this ever-evolving world of technology?
We're extremely grateful for the NFT industry and what it has to offer as well! Beyond a potential wider collectors base, what do you think NFTs might bring to the medium? Does sharing your work in the NFT space feel different to you than sharing it on other platforms?
The new world of NFTs have brought a whole new world of collectors to photography. The world is ever changing and collector bases are expanding to a much younger generation, how exciting for all artists!
We couldn't agree more. To wrap up this interview, what has been your greatest lesson learned thus far in your career?
Say yes to everything! Without being willing to take a dive into everything from film and digital and from wet plate collodion to NFTs I would never be where I am now. Whatever comes next I’m in! Yes!
Don't miss out on Jamie Johnson's NFT collection exclusively on Portion!
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