James Johnson, Los Angeles Photographer
Main Office Location: By Appointment Only
Contact: James Johnson
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Service Area: Southern California and destination weddings worldwide.
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James Johnson offers you the ease of mind that comes with placing your wedding photography in the hands of a seasoned professional—one who has worked with all types of clients in every conceivable setting. But don’t automatically assume this caliber of service is out of your reach! James customizes all packages to fit his couples’ unique needs. Just let him know what your budget is, and he’ll do what he can to work with you.
James is a master in the use of specialty, hard-to-find films to achieve his artistic palette and uses a hybrid blend of film and digital techniques on each wedding. Engagement sessions available, ensuring a rapport and level of comfort is established between James and the couple before the wedding day. Packages may also include a customized ‘highlight’ website with a link for guests, chromogenic prints of each image (a physical proof), and traditional heirloom wedding albums.
Questions and Answers
What have weddings taught you? That what I do really matters. Early on in my career, I photographed a modest wedding that was really wonderful in its simplicity, elegance and intimacy. Even though my clients know that I deliver photos really quickly, it took quite a long time for the bride to come and pick up the photos. I had no idea why, but as soon as the bride saw the first photo, she started to cry. She then told me that her father had been sick at the wedding and had passed away shortly thereafter. She knew that looking at the photos would be an emotional ride and she was right. All three of us cried our way through each of the photos and it was a night I will never forget. She couldn’t thank me enough. Any doubt I ever had about the value of wedding photography disappeared that instant. There is one photograph from that wedding that still sits on my desk and inspires me to this day. I look to it for inspiration whenever I get frustrated with the countless emails from people asking only about price—as if that is the only difference between photographers. If you talk to that bride she will tell you that her wedding day was the most important day in her life and she was thrilled that I treated it like it was the most important day in mine, too.
Tell us about your photography. I am trying to create images that you feel rather than just look at. I use film, which I believe has a look and feel that people respond to. This is especially apparent with the black and white 'Old Hollywood' photographs, as well as some of the other, more artistic and mystical looking images. These different looks are important components in telling a compelling visual story.
Why should someone hire you? As with most professions, experience is what you are paying for along with vision and style. A seasoned professional who has worked with high profile clients in every conceivable lighting situation is going to be in higher demand than a new photographer building their book. It is the difference between expecting great images and hoping for great images. Basically, you are paying for peace of mind.
What is your advice to someone choosing a wedding photographer? More important than asking questions is merely having a conversation with them. You know what you like and you don't like. See if the photographer feels the same way. The importance of matching personality and passion cannot be over emphasized. Who could be more important to click with than the person you will be spending the most important day of your life with?
Are engagement sessions important? Yes. I want to spend as much time with clients before the wedding as possible. The closer I get to them the more comfortable they will be with me during their wedding day and that translates into much more intimate moments being captured. I am looking for iconic images from a wedding day and that process starts a long time before the actual day itself.
About This Company
Truly great photographers are like magicians, only instead of pulling rabbits out of a hat, they coax extraordinary images out of a camera. At least that’s what James Johnson does. If you talk to his wedding clients about their experience with him, you’d better leave plenty of time to listen—they never run out of accolades. One of them, a producer, did manage to express their collective admiration succinctly: “I could’ve hired ANY photographer in Los Angeles, and I hired Jim because I had never seen work as good as his. His photos were so original, and his eye for capturing special, emotional moments between people was truly awe-inspiring. He is a genuine artist and I do not give that compliment lightly or often.”
James was a successful commercial photographer, who only backed into wedding photography because a friend cajoled him into shooting her wedding with this irresistible challenge: “I want something out of the ordinary. Do for me what you would do for yourself.” James followed his own instincts, and the resulting images were so beautiful they moved his friend to tears. Within a week she had booked him another job. As for James, he still smiles when he thinks about it. “I worked harder than I’d ever worked in my entire life, but it was the most exhilarating thing I had ever done. I was so happy to have touched someone so deeply.”
If it’s the emotional bond with his clients that motivates James, it’s his artistic vision, amazing technical skills and sheer tenacity that create the images. His photographic prowess was mostly developed during his long association with one of the top advertising photographers in the world. From producing big ad campaigns to appearing in them, Jim has worn every photographic hat on either side of the camera. He not only knows how to shoot in every conceivable (and impossible) lighting situation, he knows which type of film will render the precise quality he’s trying to achieve. “Jim has a brilliant eye,” says a caterer. “He sees things so differently than most others, and sees things that most others would just overlook.” The effort he expends on each job is astonishing. As one incredulous coordinator observed, “This guy will jump up on roofs, ladders, just anything. I think he would hang by his heels to get the best shot. And yet, he’s never intrusive.”
Jim’s preparation for the wedding day starts weeks before, with an informal “engagement shoot” on the beach near his house. “This was one of my favorite pre-wedding memories,” confides a bride. ”Jim is so easygoing and fun that within minutes we were both totally relaxed. He managed to capture us—our spirit and our love for each other—in just a few shots. The pictures that we got from that day are some of the best I’ve ever seen.”
On the wedding day, that feeling of mutual comfort gives the bride and groom the freedom to be themselves, and James the freedom to create, as one bride put it, “the most beautiful pictures you could imagine—actually better than what most people could imagine.” On top of his mastery of the camera, Jim uses unique film processing and print presentation formats that expand the bounds of photography. Whether he’s hand-tinting an image or conjuring up an other-worldly infrared tableau, he’s always inventing something fresh, something artful. “I want people to wonder what’s coming next,” he says. “I want each album to look interesting page after page.”
Early on in his training, one of James’ instructors gave him this advice: “Dare to see.” Well, James dares to see, not just with his eyes but with his heart. “My clients take a leap of faith with me, and I want to reward them with something amazing,” he says. “If I can give them a photo that will be on someone’s mantel in 100 years, that’s a wonderful legacy.”
James Johnson, Los Angeles Photographer Covers These Areas:Southern California
- Los Angeles
- Orange County
- Palm Springs / Palm Desert
- Riverside / Inland Empire
- San Bernardino Mountains / Lake Arrowhead
- San Diego
- San Fernando Valley
- San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Catalina Island
- Santa Clarita Valley
- South Bay L.A. / Long Beach
- Temecula Wine Country
- And other areas by special arrangement.