Original Prints by Stephen Johnson

What make these prints unique?

  • Johnson's unique and sensitive vision
  • Digital original photographs of extraordinary resolution and detail
  • Stunningly real color with the restrained pallette of what he saw, rather than what film might have done to the light, or what an image editor might have done to "enhance" the photograph.
  • First digital landscape work, giving the photographs real historic significance
  • Each print hand made by Johnson himself
  • Print sizes range up to huge sizes, without loss of detail, only revealing more and more image content

How about their longterm value?

  • Johnson's photographs have gone up in value year after year since the early 1980s.
  • First digital landscape work, giving the photographs real historic significance
  • All pigment color printed on 100% cotton paper offering a very long life (over 200 years, making them the longest lasting color photographic process in history).
  • Limited edition portfolios have sold out


A New Realism: Photographer's Gallery 1998

Johnson's work births a "new realism," a post modern expression beyond the constraints of conventional photographic techniques and styles. Plunging into a rich pastel world rarely attempted in photography, yet uncannily familiar to human experience, he is doing battle with color photographic convention of contrasty, saturated renditions, forcing us to see a world we know, but which photography has largely ignored. His sensitive design and color take us into a remarkable world of sensual visual experience.

Contending that the real world is already "self-embellished" he prefers a straightforward attempt at rendering of what he sees, working hard to portray what is before the camera optic. This significant break from film's inherent distortion and recent digital trends of embellishment and enhancement reveals his affection for seeing beauty, compelling form and visual power in the world as he finds it.

"I want my experience in a place of visual power to be brought to the viewer. My ability to see the image as I make it gives me the on site power to test my vision as the two dimensional interpretation of a photograph. Judging the light presence and design fully realized is critical."

 

Art Historian Dianne W. Pitman: 2006

Photography is a kind of religion for Stephen Johnson, involving finding beauty in nature, opening our eyes, heightening our awareness.  This is a grand tradition in photography, and I'm convinced he's an important figure in the history of the medium because of the way he modernizes and innovates within the tradition, with great intelligence and sensitivity, rather than trying to get attention by flouting it.  He's devoted to a kind of realism that involves working slowly and deliberately, capturing as much detail and tone and color info as possible, messing endlessly with the camera and computer and monitor and printer to convey the effect of the original experience, and never collaging or compositing or retouching to alter the photographic image (as opposed to repairing damage such as scratches and stains in scanned old photos).  His large landscape prints are stunning, not just for the magical degree of detail you discover in them when you look closely, but also for the entirely different, amazing, convincing quality of light.  But Stephen is no scientific documentarian, he's very sharp about design elements such as composition and patterning, and his oeuvre has a subtle but very consistent personal style (which I suspect many viewers miss, as he more or less intends).

As a teacher he is both very self-confident and very modest, consistently demonstrating his convictions without forcing them on others, and his photographs work the same way.  He distinguishes between what he considers to be true photography, or recording something that was visible at a particular moment and place, from image-making in general, which combines photography with all sorts of other processes. He sees it as a problem that digital imagemaking in general (e.g. all that Photoshop can do) is referred to and taught as "digital photography"; not that there's anything wrong with painting and collaging, but that they stand in a different relationship to the world, and that it's important to be aware of that difference.  Not just to avoid being tricked into thinking manipulated images are truth, but more fundamentally in order to remain attentive, and responsible to, and passionate about, our relationship to our real world.  These are big issues; this is art at its best.

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Last updated on January 6, 2010. Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2010, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved.