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Workshop Testimonials on Stephen Johnson Photography Workshops

I took Steve’s “Fine Art Digital Printing” workshop in 2015. The experience was terrific. The format combined a number of lectures from him, transitioning to hands-on printing by the students individually as the workshop went on.

The lectures covered an array of topics including a little bit of history (digital printing, Photoshop, photography), the presentation of several useful but often unknown or ignored Photoshop manipulations, a discussion of some aesthetic considerations, a little bit about color management and color theory, and a lot of Steve’s very thoughtful recommendations about all these things.

We each had our own desk with a Mac running Photoshop connected to an Epson 13 x 19 printer. We’d all been told to bring some of our own photos on a thumb drive, and we used those for our individual projects and practice. After an initial round of lectures the first day, several assistants joined Steve, so that during these hands-on periods, we had no trouble getting either an assistant or Steve himself to come over and consult with us to solve problems. Everybody helping out was knowledgeable and very eager to see that we were learning and experiencing as much as possible. (One of my friends had asked me before I took the workshop, why I couldn’t find all the information I needed either in a book or on the Internet. Well, the difference is that books and the Internet don’t give you a world-renown expert literally sitting by your side and helping you figure out how to make your prints—and your photographic skills generally—better.)

I chose a Steve Johnson workshop after I researched photography workshops of all kinds in many places; I had concluded that I wouldn’t find anybody more knowledgeable about the topic of digital photo printing than he is, and I was right. What I hadn’t expected, though, was that he would be such a good teacher and coach. He’s a first-class guy, down to earth and personable despite an impressive, mile-long resume, and he really does want his students to learn, grow, and succeed on their own terms. He doesn’t hesitate to express his own views on things like aesthetics, but he makes it quite clear that other views are equally valid and a matter of personal preference. He wants you to develop your own style, in short, and regards his job as helping you work toward that goal.

The level of skills among the students varied, with some of us having decades of camera experience and deep Photoshop skills, others less, and others a lot less. It didn’t matter. You spend so much time with Steve or an assistant working with you individually that the wide range of abilities among the students simply made no difference—nobody felt as though they were “supposed” to know anything, nobody felt as though they were competing with anybody else.

One of the more surprising take-aways for me from the workshop was confidence. I had long thought that other photographers could get an image looking the way they wanted on a computer screen, and then by just pressing a button, get precisely that same look in a print. I found out that other people—including the experts—sometimes struggle too, and that a fair amount of tweaking and test printing is common. But I learned how to keep that process to a minimum and to come a lot closer than I had previously to that “just press a button” goal.

In all, the workshop was a great experience and very helpful to me in being able to make the kind of prints I want to make, with fewer false starts and with much greater certainty.

Trotter Hardy
Williamsburg, Virginia
April 2015

Video Testimonials

There is no better teacher than Stephen Johnson. YOU are the reason for the workshop and he is passionate about helping YOU become a better photographer. Honest, kind and always willing to help make a Stephen Johnson workshop a remarkable experience. Stephen Johnson is a great photographer- and a greater friend. His love of nature and its beauty will inspire your work."

Paul Tornaquindichi

Let’s hear it for Stephen Johnson. Working from a studio and gallery complex in Pacifica, California, Steve runs a fine series of workshops directed towards digital photography. No one I am aware of is as advanced as Steve, and few others have the proper training to teach. Steve offers the complete package. Not a rented space with tired old computers, but a real digital lab, with state of the art equipment and printers and scanners and ... expertise you wouldn’t believe. Soft-spoken and easy going, Steve has years of experience and it is all on the walls. Write for a brochure and calendar of on going classes AND check his webpage: www.sjphoto.com

Al Weber, Photographer
Carmel, California
from his 2001 NEWSLETTER

The Raw to Print Workshop that I took in 2015 totally met and exceeded my expectations. I had been struggling for years to produce decent images because I didn't understand and therefore did not know how to control the digital workflow. Steve brought his decades of experience and mastery of the craft to bear in a well-organized and methodical class that covered the entire workflow. This was precisely what I needed.

Christopher Allen

Last week I participated in a very intensive “Raw to Print” workshop put on by Stephen Johnson. Stephen has a very particular approach to RAW processing and Photoshop which I had not seen before and which creates stunning images. He is an amazing teacher with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and contacts, and very well organized content. He has a remarkable, fully equipped workshop, and a large gallery. He is also very patient with those of us who need time to digest so much new information. As a result of the workshop, I processed 4 other fine art prints. If anybody ever asks you for a referral to RAW processing and print workshops I highly recommend Stephen.

Mike Watson. 2018

I would like to say a quick thanks for Stephen Johnson's presentation this past evening (11-1-11) on the Bleeding Edge of Digital Photography held at the Vis Arts Center in Rockville. Stephen gave a stellar talk and we found out many eye opening events that brought us into the digital world as we know it today.

Stephen was using Photoshop before it was called Photoshop. His amazing journey through the National Parks in America making 3 and 3/4 minute exposures with a scan back and a behind the scenes looks into his "digital bus" really shows us how far and how fast we have come in about 20 years. His story reminded me of a modern day Edward Curtis gathering jewels out in the wild wild west! His pioneering spirit in large format digital opened the eyes of Life Magazine, boldly awarding Stephen recognition for his work.

Once Stephen opened up his print case the room was in a mild state of euphoria. I personally enjoyed the infra red work, coupled with his pastel style in his color images. Steve has helped many companies in the fine art of paper making, workflow, and other hurdles the industry has faced. There were some GREAT questions from the audience and there were some GREAT answers from Steve. He is one of the most knowledgeable digital artist working with the Canon Explorer Group that I know of. OH YES..thanks you Canon!

Who wants to form a group and go to one oh his many upcoming workshops? Let's get four or five for the Galapagos Islands! or Death Valley! Stay on his website for the workshop series.

Let's get another workshop planned for Vis Arts, soon!

Clay Blackmore, Photographer
November 2, 2011. Rockville, MD

I just completed Stephen's Advanced Fine Art Printing class and I am ecstatic with my progress and new skills. Previously, my printing efforts were okay, but not impressive. Now, with Steve's patient guidance I was able to produce several outstanding prints. Even better, I have the confidence that I will be able to put to use my new skills on my own in my home environment.

Stephen uses a combination of group lectures and individualized instruction that makes you feel comfortable and challenges you to learn the skills that he uses to produce his wonderful, glowing landscapes. The interaction among the students leads to mutual encouragement and celebration of success. I look forward to many more workshops with Stephen. A truly inspiring experience.

Stuart Worley
Portland, OR

I just took Stephen's workshop on printing, I found it to be a very well thought out class, Stephan's calm and understanding teaching style was much appreciated by the students that were at varying degrees of knowledge. I personally had never opened Photoshop, but am proficient at Lightroom. Stephen was very methodical on showing us the capabilities of PS and how to use it to make better pictures. I have constantly had trouble printing at home always having to dark of prints versus what I saw on the monitor, i used to waste so many sheets of paper to try and get that perfect print. Stephen showed us how to get around that obstacle and what tools we need to be able to make great prints. I am happy to say my prints are coming out the same as on the monitor! I highly recommend taking his workshops, I will be taking more in the future.

David Krichevsky
Oregon. July 2018


Thank you Steve. You are the most knowledgeable and humble person I've ever met in photography. What a wonderful combination for a teacher.

The lectures, information and thoughts you passed along this week made an impression on me! I have learned and enjoyed this week so much.

June 2015


Raw From Raw is a new one-day workshop taught by Stephen Johnson. I attended the inaugural session on August 12, 2012. In this unique workshop, the attendees explored a slew of techniques for making photgraphic art - Raw images - from Raw fruits and vegetables!
When Stephen announced this workshop, I was intrigued because I have essentially zero experience with studio photography and lighting.. This workshop could give me an opportunity to experiment with new techniques and concepts.

We spent the morning getting familiar with 3 separate and quite different lighting setups. Steve demonstrated how each of these setups can be adjusted to illuminate the subject in the most dramatic and pleasing way. He showed us how to set up the camera - exposure and lens choice - to attempt to solve the many problems inherent in this kind of work.

The afternoon allowed each of us to explore these setups by shooting our own images using a fantastic selection of raw vegetables and fruit Steve found in the farmers’ market. I must say I’ll never look at a pepper or a cauliflower or a cabbage quite the same way again.

Throughout the afternoon, Steve assisted each of us with helpful but gentle suggestions when we seemed to be hitting a wall creatively or technically. He was assisted ably throughout the entire day by Fiona.

Near the end of the day, Steve demonstrated how to get extreme depth of focus in an image by merging 3 separate images in Photoshop, each of which was taken by adjusting the focus of the camera to 3 offset planes. This was a new technique for me, and the demo was quite dramatic as was the final image.

When we go into the field for landscape, wildlife, or travel photography, we have to adapt to the changing environment. We can’t always choose our vantage point or the quality of the light. In studio photography the photographer has complete control over the lighting and subject. I really enjoyed the experience of this workshop, in no small measure due to Steve Johnson’s wealth of expertise and his very able instructional approach. I can recommend this interesting workshop to both beginner and advanced photographers. There is another session scheduled for September 23, 2012.

Alan Kushnir
August 13, 2012

I had been studying with another teacher when I came upon Stephen Johnson’s critiquing session. In one, two hour session, Stephen helped to open my eyes and see what my photographs could truly be. I had been stuck in a black and white, small photograph phase. With Stephen’s patient help I was quickly able to expand my editing and printing repertoire to include large, open, color prints. I now feel like I have much more freedom in my photography and I owe a lot of it to Stephen.

Richard Dweck
June 2018

I just completed a Fine Art Printing workshop with Stephen Johnson at his Pacifica Ca studio. The best workshop I have taken. He is a passionate advocate for striving to produce excellent images and gives you the tools to do so. An absolute must if you want to improve your photographic output. He is articulate extremely knowledgeable and patient

Roger Lieberman

Too many photography instructors want to impress you with their knowledge of photography. Steve Johnson wants to make sure you to leave his workshops confident in the knowledge you've gained. Steve is an excellent, caring teacher and his insights and knowledge of digital photography are extensive. His Fine Arts Print Workshop - which I just completed - is a must for anyone who wants to create beautiful digital prints. Well done Steve!

David P.
Barrington, RI

Just finished a week workshop with Stephen Johnson at the Maine Media Workshops. His class exceeded my expectations. I'm 55, attended Cleveland Inst. of Art back in '73 and have been involved with photography since '83. I can not think of a better investment of my time or money at this point in my life. The only thing I can think of to improve my experience is I wish I could study with the guy for 6 months or something. Thanks Steve, and thanks Maine Media Workshops.

Scott C.
Wake Forest, NC


Thanks for an amazing experience during the recent RAW to Print workshop. Your course delivered considerably more than I had ever hoped for, and I learned a tremendous amount, as did all the students. Your professionalism and willingness to go the extra-mile for your students was most appreciated, your grasp of the subject matter mind-blowingly deep, the curriculum rich and well structured, and your personal standards very high. The lab is a fantastically complete environment that is very impressive. All in I cannot say enough about how impressed I was … on a scale of 1 to 10, your Raw to Print class gets a 12.

-Russ Andersson. July 2010 class

My experience with Stephen Johnson’s photography work show has been a life changing experience in my photographic work. It has completely changed how and what I photograph. In his 2010 workshop at Point Reyes National Seashore, he helped me take a lifetime photograph, a photograph that I never tire of coming back to and looking at with great pleasure. His instructional skills and subject matter qualifications are superb. In the field, he lets you setup and choose your own subject and perspective before he will come by and provide advice when you want it. This is followed by an evening of in depth review with some helpful processing illustrations that are at times amazing. If you are interested in taking the “next step” in your photography endeavors, I highly recommend you take one of Stephen Johnson’s workshops.

Steve Smaby
Salinas, California

I recently took Stephen Johnson's two-day workshop in Beginning Digital Photography. This is what I can tell you about it. Stephen is a superb teacher, who knows how to explain complex techniques. He understands how much his students know and don't know, and proceeds from there. He covered a great deal of information in a gentle and stimulating manner. The reason I took the seminar was because I wanted to make digital prints from a set of black and white negatives I had shot some forty years ago in Harlan County, Kentucky, when I worked as a professional photographer. I am now convinced that going digital, although different from the darkroom, can produce superb prints. Stephen has gotten me started on this long project and his strong positive support has been invaluable

Andrew A Stern
Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Journalism
University of California, Berkeley

Just had a "wonderful four days" in Steve's Fine Art Printing workshop. "The workshop was satisfying in every way---and real world ---beginning from how annoying and balky digital devices can be all the way to how superb prints are within the reach and the grasp of mere mortals (like me). The recipe is disarmingly simple: add equal parts of education, inspiration, perspiration, frustration mitigation, insight, excellent technical support and equipment; mix liberally (all meanings); season with a generous spirit and humor and out comes a great four day workshop."

George Andros
Los Angeles, California

I participated in a 4 day Fne Art Printing workshop with Stephen Johnson. Preparing an image to print is far more difficult than preparing an image to upload to Flickr. It is also far more sensual. Imagine, something you can hold in your hand!

Stephen was one of the early adopters of digital imaging. Chasing extremely high quality images, a 4 megapixel camera did not cut it, so Stephen had to shoot with a 150 megapixel scanning back. His prints show it, and of course they must be seen in real life.

I learned a tremendous amount from Stephen, and would recommend his workshops to anyone who desires to produce high quality printed images.

If you can't make it to his printing class or one of his workshops (or even if you can), I highly recommend his book, On Digital Photography . This is the best encompassing book I have ever seen on the subject, from history to technique to aesthetics to the future. It's a fun read if photography is your thing.

Alan Grinberg
Fine Art Printing Workshop 2/25-28/2010

I sincerely appreciate Steve sharing his immense knowledge of the photographic process and his insight on my images. His talent as a photographer is matched by his skills as an instructor and I always felt welcome to ask a question or request help.

I sit through many courses both to meet the requirements of my licensing and for my continuing training. I am rarely if ever impressed with the quality of the instruction. That was certainly not the case with this workshop. I looked forward to every day and to what I was going to learn. Steve's candor, passion was refreshing and always on point.

-David Fox
May 2010 Fine Art Printing Workshop

Although I am a recreational as opposed to a "serious" photographer, I feel that the time I spent in Steve's workshops and the follow up critiques has contributed more to my appreciation and enjoyment of my trips and shots of family and grandchildren than an entire lifetime of trial and error.

His insistence that I put some thought into every shot - what a concept - and his ability to find a way to look at a mediocre shot and show me how to improve it is unique, I think, and I notice that I am not alone in feeling this way. I have referred him to many friends over the years and they have been similarly enthusiastic and more to the point, we have been able to see the improvement in their work.

Norma Burchard

Steve brings in-the-field experience, a love of the medium, and the true heart of a teacher to his workshops and seminars. Through his example I have become a devotee of landscape photography. I've grown from using film with a Nikon to creating my own web site with digital images enhanced with Photoshop. The most important element of fine photography that I've learned from Steve, however, is recognizing a good composition. I also paint plein air landscapes in oil. My skills with the brush may be questionable, but my compositions are always right on!

Caroline Commins
Sonoma, California

In attending Steve Johnson's Beginning Digital Workshop, I gained a good grasp of basic digital aspects of photography. More importantly, I obtained a sense of vision regarding the future of digital fine art photography and a sense of vision for how I might tie in digital photography to my own dreams. I respect Steve Johnson's dedication to beauty and photography.

Mel Blades, Pastor,
Part-time Photographer

We have been in two of Steve's Workshops; Mono Lake and Death Valley. They were both incredible. Not only did we experience wonderful sights, but we truly learned how to photograph nature! One photograph I took is now a 16x20 framed landscape ("Death Valley Sunrise") that is my office. It is so incredible that I get offers to buy it...and I took it! That was only possible because of Steve's great tutoring. Steve is as good a teacher as he is a photographer...and is one the best photographers in the country.

Jack & Peggy Grove

My decision to attend a Stephen Johnson workshop was based on my own internet research for a unique opportunity to learn better image composition and visualization from a master capable of demonstrating that talent. Stephen Johnson's accomplishments in digital imaging impressed me that he would be the right person.

The four-day Death Valley in Winter workshop more than fulfilled my expectations. Stephen has to be one of an extremely limited number of individuals in the world that fully understand the process of image concept to realization within the digital imaging domain. I found, not only his knowledge of the subject, but his passion for it to be the most rewarding for me. His philosophy, passion for photography, and constructive attention not only gave me new insight into seeing better images, but helped mold the direction of my own creative decision-making and philosophy. The essence of that alone was well worth the experience.

I can't recommend him enough to anyone interested in improving their skills. I will most definitely recommend and be found on other Stephen Johnson workshops.

Steve Somers
Los Angeles, California

Stephen Johnson's workshop on digital photography has entirely shifted my former perspective about digital imaging. What I learned in his workshop gave me a new outlook on film, digital imaging, visual sensitivity to color, film and chip sensitivity to color, pre-visualization and composition, and digital printing. What better place to see and remember true color, than in the light of the landscape itself.

A master in the medium, I consider him as I do the classic photographers that I have been so influenced by. His keen sense of color and composition is stunning, and I am inspired by where he has gone in the world of photography. I have a great respect for the scope of knowledge he has, which he generously shares with other photographers.

His integrity is solid, his work is amazing, and the knowledge I have gained in his workshop has continued to directly help me understand and grow in my own creative adventures.

Janie Fitzgerald
Los Angeles, California

Thank you so much for an amazing weekend. The Workshop was fantastic, I really got a lot out of it, and I can't wait to apply it to my future work. Not to mention having the opportunity to see absolutely mind-blowing scenery! Thank you for giving our camera club this opportunity to learn from the BEST.

Mary Grant-Young. 2016

Steve's pioneering work in digital imaging, extensive knowledge of and experience in digital photography technologies and ability to explain complex subject matter so that workshop attendees can both understand and use his techniques make Steve an outstanding teacher. Steve's workshops are well planned with ample opportunities to observe techniques in use. Steve has a very strong interest in helping workshop attendees not just understand but also put to use his digital imaging knowledge and techniques presented in his workshops.

Richard C. Edwards
Rich Edwards Imagery

Thank you so much for the wonderful weekend at Pt. Lobos. It was both invigorating and inspirational. You helped us to look for patterns in the rocks, the kelp and the ebb and flow of the waves. You showed us the quirky zen-like quality of lichen, the sweet playfulness of California poppies and the ethereal beauty of fog. And equally important, you gave us an opportunity to touch history. Visiting Al Weber was a special treat. I could have sat there all day listening to his lifetime of stories, if he had wanted to talk that long. Richard Newman from Calumet was equally interesting. I could have listened to him all day as well. Whereas Al’s focus was the past and the importance of preserving the past, Richard’s was the future of photography. And then there we were with you our photography guru, in the present, for a weekend, which was part workshop, part pilgrimage, trying to be a tiny part of the continuing story of Carmel photography. Thanks to you, it was truly a special weekend.

Pat Silveri
Marin County California

A Workshop Experience: Review by Dan Pimentel

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Last updated on August 2, 2018 . Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
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