Dylan Johnston has spent years hopping fences, meeting strangers, and exploring areas lesser known. His love for adventure started at a young age fishing off the coast of Florida with his father and exploring small towns with friends. This inherent love for adventure has helped shape his style of photography and cinematography and has developed his passion for creating adventure and documentary work. The personal connections he makes with his subjects allow Dylan to capture their uniqueness and beauty on film, an original lens by which to tell their story.
Dylan has several years of experience working on professional shoots both in studio and on location for all mediums. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. We sat down with Dylan for a little chat;
Where are you right now?
Right now I’m in Cape Town, South Africa but I’ll be back home in Brooklyn, New York in a week.
How long have you been shooting and what lead you to it?
I’ve always made images, even when I was a little kid. My parents are both creatives and we always had a camera in the house which I used constantly for family vacations. As I got older I found the artistic side to making images simply through shooting more and studying images and photographers.
Have you changed your approach since you started?
When I first began making images I would photograph almost anything, now I have more of a style and focus my attention on certain details to build my series.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration in new places, whether physically being somewhere or looking through a new artists work. I also look at the light, shadow, and color around me everyday and try to make new images.
Have you ever had a shot that got away?
Almost everyday. It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting a story or grabbing a drink with friends, there is almost always a moment or shadow I see that I wish I could have captured.
Where does your next photography mission take you?
I’m going to Costa Rica for a quick trip soon but after that I don’t have any concrete plans. I have a few trips I’m trying to put together and plenty of places I want to go this year, especially the West Coast of the U.S, since I’ve spent so little time there.
Any particularly memorable responses to your work?
I get some funny reactions to some images from my “Offshore” series, particularly the bloody tuna and fish head images - quite a few people are grossed out by them. But I especially like when somebody finds the beauty in those images.
What jobs have you had other than being a photographer?
When I was in High School I worked in a junkyard in South Florida where I got to do cool stuff like cut cars in half with a torch, but also really awful things like cleaning oil pits by hand. That was the best worst job I ever had.
If you couldn’t be a photographer, what would you do instead?
I would love to be a professional pilot or captain but I’m partially colorblind so I can only get my licenses for recreational use, and I’ve always had a love for the ocean so I thought I would be a marine biologist, but then I found photography. Now to fill in the space between shooting I’ve been wanting to get in to photo-editing or art-directing.
You have to choose one camera and one lens to take around the world. What would it be?
Mamiya 7II with an 80mm. This is my main camera and one of my favorite cameras I’ve ever shot with, but I couldn’t imagine traveling with just one camera especially because I mix analog and digital images in so many of my series.
If you could live someone else’s life for a day, who would it be and why?
Probably Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo missions. I’m a huge space nerd at heart and would love to experience what it would be like in space or on the moon. Also I really like explorers and inventors and people who help forge paths for new study.
Early riser or night owl?
Night owl, ever since I was a little kid I’ve hard a hard time falling asleep before midnight. This is great when I run around town all night and explore locations for long exposures but frustrating when I have to be up early and shoot.
What is something not many people know about you?
I got certified for my SCUBA license when I was 13.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Stay humble and always make work, especially personal work.