Aotearoa NZ Photographers – Janine Ross-Johnstone
Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to chat with photographer Janine Ross-Johnstone to find out more about her life behind the lens, being softly grounded and keeping pace with changing technology.
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How did you initially get started in with photography?
Being introduced to photography on my OE in the early 1990’s, lead to the passion of taking photos. My boyfriend and I owned a SLR Pentax camera, it was during our last big trip through Africa, as we were heading home in 1995, that we were involved in a fatal bus crash where four people died. All of our precious items were stolen during the accident, including our camera and un-developed films, I think around 25 of them! I think I cried more about the films being stolen than my injuries.
We made it back to New Zealand, and it was during my recovery, as I had endured a broken pelvis/hip, where I had to spend six months on crutches, that I decided to study photography via correspondence, so I purchased a new camera.
Do you have a preference for shooting film or digital?
I love both, and both have their advantages, but nowadays its digital.
I read that you studied photography twice due to changing technology how do you keep your skills (and or equipment) current since graduating?
Skill-wise, I shoot most days, whether it’s for myself or a client. setting new little projects for myself. Earlier this year I invested in a one-on-one ‘Image Blitz’ with Christina Force, you may have heard of her? her mission is to help photographers get paid to shoot what they love! She helped me define my direction within my style, as I was getting a little lost, it has been very helpful.
Studying photography has made me quite resourceful, experimenting and trying something new opens doors. The internet helps in so many ways but it’s putting it into practice, and giving it a go that’s the best learning experience for me.
I have a good kit that I am happy with at the present, I have a tech-husband, so he always informs me of something new, but something new isn’t always better. And really it comes down to what works for me and taking care of your gear.
How much of your work is via client commissions vs art-based practice?
It is about 80% commissions to 20 % art-based practise, hopefully I can increase the art side of it in the future!
We love the atmosphere and quality of light in your work, how do you go about achieving such a sense of surreal calm?!
Thank you! hah I really don’t know, it just kind of happens, it’s a bit like magic. When I am in my zone, behind my camera, I have a calm and consistent presence, I let things happen naturally (when shooting children especially ) as Christina Force says I’m softly grounded. I like that.
With such a botanical and landscape focus in your work, how does New Zealand environment inform your work.
My upbringing was in a rural environment, I was exposed to the outdoors from an early age, spending so much of my time riding horses, motorbikes and holidaying by the sea, it feeds my soul… I love New Zealand for its diverse countryside and closeness to nature, it’s so hard for me to not use it, it’s my default setting, I guess it tells you a lot of who I am and what I love.
Do you have a favourite subject to shoot?
Oh gosh that’s a hard one… I think it’s children, little and big, they both have their challenges, but both are just as rewarding.
What shoot, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
Another difficult one, there have been a few, but at the moment, I would have to say my personal. Originally I was shooting it just for me, during my quieter months, experimenting along the way. Having my images displayed and for sale, it can feel very daunting, putting yourself out there. But when people appreciate it enough to buy it and hang on their wall, that’s even more of a privilege and makes me proud.
What are you working on (or towards) right now?
Right now – just finished editing a family session from a week ago, it has been a busy old time lately, lots on, business portraits for a real estate, and robotics company, documenting a ceremony of a new chapel opening and in-between I also entered two of my photographic art prints into an exhibition which ends this weekend.
I always look forward to the next thing, you never know what will appear around the corner.
What does your dream commission look like?
It has to be editorial lifestyle shoot, somewhere in the Mediterranean, ideally the Greek Islands and includes a sailboat, people, little quaint villages with narrow streets and a winery overlooking the ocean… I would be totally happy with all that! Oh yeah, can I add an Olive grove in there too. 😉
How can people stay in touch and follow your work?