by Camille Johnson
TRIAL, ERROR, AND TUMBLR
I got my first camera in 2008, but I always had that vision. I would be on Tumblr all the time and see the pictures I wanted to take but never had the equipment for. 13th Witness was one the first photographers I found through Tumblr and he was really doing a lot of work that I liked. I couldn’t stay off his page. It was like ‘I have to get to this level.’
I'm all self-taught. No classes, just trial and error. I don't really like classes because I think that photography is something personal to you. You have to try it our for yourself. See what you like, what you don't like. Get a feel for it.
WHEN IT COMES TO STYLES OF PHOTOGRAPHY - HE AIN'T GOT NO TYPE.
I like them all. Living in Alabama it’s nothing but trails, forest trails, hiking trails. So I’ve become pretty good at shooting those. There’s no real city life, so I don’t have that access. I like landscape. in the winter time when you don’t wanna go outside. I’ve gotten pretty good at my portraits too though. So I can’t really choose one. I love photography as a whole.
GAME-CHANGING PHOTO SHOOTS
One of the first shoots that comes to mind is when I came here in February of last year. There was snow and it was cold, I was in abandoned buildings. Almost fell through a floor. Climbed some roofs. And I still look back at those pictures and love them.
Another one is this project I started called Something From Nothing. Me being in Alabama, I always say there’s nothing there. With this gift I have, I feel like I’m tryna create something from nothing. And it’s like a double entendre because it was a nude series. I wanted to take photos with women and make it look like they aren’t really nude. So I linked up with this friend and we went to a rock quarry. It was raining and she was like ‘I’m gonna get in the water.’ And we just went for it and it was probably one of the best shoots I’ve ever done. It was like a 2-mile hike to get there, in the rain. When we got there the rain stopped and we just went for it.
But I feel like every photo shoot is a game-changer. It’s like ‘alright I’m putting my best into this. It’s about to shake some shit up’.
PHOTOG 2 PHOTOG
A short convo between Fred and Team Black Bottom's photographer Rowan Minor.
Rowan: What’s your dream lens?
Fred: Probably the 24 mm - 70 mm
Rowan: What made you choose Nikon?
Fred: I got my first DSLR from a pawnshop. That’s what I started off with.
Rowan: Do you prefer artificial or natural light?
Fred: Natural all day. Natural light on gloomy days. Take me to Seattle where it rains all the time and it’s gray. That’s perfect.
Rowan: What’s your favorite lens right now?
Fred: Depends on what I’m shooting. I use a 35 mm - 1.4 mm almost everyday, but I just acquired a wide angle 17 mm - 35 mm and full frame has changed my life lol. Those cover everything that I need though.
Rowan: How do you get hype before a shoot?
Fred: Before a shoot I listen to music to get hype. It’s usually Travi$ Scott and Young Thug -- Skyfall. I saw the video of them working on it in the studio before the song came out. Watching them get hype in the studio making the song made me get hype, and then when I actually heard the final version it was even better than I thought. And then seeing it performed live twice really turnt me up.
So far I’ve shot in Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, and Detroit. I went to Navarre, FL for my friend’s wedding, and just being there on the beach, it was second to none. But I’d like to travel more.
I really want to work with Nike at the nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon. I wanna go to a country in Africa. I don’t know which one yet, but I wanna be in a rural area and I wanna shoot the kids. With kids there’s no rehearsal, it’s just them. Just raw emotion. I wanna go to Japan because they’re so forward in everything—well, almost everything lol. And Rio. I wanna shoot the Christ the Redeemer statue so bad. It’s so cliché but I love it because it’s so perfect, the way it sits up on the top of the mountain looking over the water.
CAPTURING INTIMATE MOMENTS
Dreams can change, but right now my dream job would be a photographer for one person like a celebrity. That would be the best because you get to travel. You’re not only shooting the subject, you get to see the world – or if not the world, the United States, because there so much of it we don’t get to see. And because I also like to get those intimate moments that people don’t see, because they’re only posting what they want you to see. But the pictures of them working or really putting time into their craft, that’s what I want to document. I love documentary work. I can definitely shoot one. I can be a fly on the wall and shoot pictures all day.
FOR THE LOVE
I’m currently doing a project, curated through my IG and blog, called For The Love. Backstory: I got into a creative block because being in Alabama, sometimes it’s only so much you can do. I didn’t take pictures for like 3 weeks. I didn’t pick up my camera at all. So it was like ‘you know, I love this, I’ve spent so much money on this. I need to use it.’ So then I thought about what I love to do, and I love to document other people. I’m passionate about other people being passionate. So I find people and what they’re really passionate about, and I interview them and take pictures. I’ve done 3 so far: Jermaine Clark (an artist), Robert Simpson (a sneaker collector, and Tatiana Johnson (a major magazine collector). For the series I post pictures of the subject on Monday and Wednesday, and I post the full interview on Friday. Right now this is keeping me motivated to shoot and to not be an introvert (Alabama has made me an introvert and I hate it). I like it. It’s fun. I like sharing people’s stories. I like bringing questions out of people that they don’t usually get.
As far as other things I'd like to accomplish this year, I want to have my work published in a magazine and I'd like to get picked up by a company like Nike or Adidas. Or a start-up company. I still have 6 months left, I think I can get it done.
AFRAID TO FOLLOW YOUR PASSION?
Do it anyway. Because you don’t want to regret not doing it. Everybody is so afraid of being criticized and talked about that they’re afraid to have fun themselves. Fuck that. Do what you want. You only have one life. I’m not tryna be 60 or 70 years old and be like ‘damn I should have did this.’ There’s so many opportunities out here. So many lanes you can get in. Just do it. (shout out to Nike lol).