Creativity is expression…… everyone can see the same subject yet interpret or capture that image differently and ultimately this is what sets us apart, makes us unique – Andy Johnson.
Andy Johnson is a self-taught photographer from Grenada, whose work encompasses a cross range of disciplines. Well known for his vibrant and vivid images of the landscape of Grenada and not limited to the locals and visitors of the island, we caught up with the beloved photographer for a quick chat on all things Grenada and of course photography.
The Island Chronicles: Andy, it is such a pleasure featuring you on the Island Chronicles. Tell us, when did photography become your medium of choice?
Andy Johnson: I have always had a love for photography, then the cell phone cameras got better so always having a camera in my hands gave this love more life. I discovered Instagram early (before the dreaded Facebook takeover) and just viewing other folks photos made me realise that I could achieve the same with practice. At the time I was using a camera phone and steadily got better, at which point I started to develop my own style. Soon I out grew out of the phone camera, that was in 2014 and got my first DSLR (Nikon D40) and well, the rest is history as they say.
The Island Chronicles: Now as admirers of your work, that is some history we would love to pore over as we are certain that you have captured some great images. As a self-taught photographer, how have you managed to hone your skills and advance your techniques?
Andy Johnson: I read a lot, especially anything photography related and YouTube, people have no idea how much you can learn on that platform. I used to be on Flickr daily just looking at images, to get a feel of what the end result should be and well I would go out and shoot and not stop till I felt I was getting closer to what I saw from the pros. There are photographers also that would message me from time to time with constructive criticism and tips and naturally if you love something and work at it it’s virtually impossible to not get better at it.
The Island Chronicles: We can definitely see that the determination and perseverance has paid off, judging by the positive and encouraging comments from around the world shared by people taken by your work. So do you have a preferred style that you love to photograph?
Andy Johnson: I love black and white photography best I think, no matter if its portrait or landscape black and white images conjure up emotions, mood, textures one would have otherwise overlooked in a coloured image.
The Island Chronicles: We definitely have a love affair with black and white images and agree they do tell a different story. In an age where almost everyone is a photographer, what do you think are the key attributes, important in becoming a good photographer?
Andy Johnson: Many people say to me “your camera takes great photos” and I tell them no more than my mother’s pot can cook great dishes. This goes beyond what gear you use and more to the end user, it’s having an eye for detail, being observant, patient and also having an artistic background which has helped me a lot with composition and generally how that shot is edited and presented. Even the way you approach a person to take their photo may ultimately determine whether you get to take that shot or not so it’s a combination of many things.
I am also a Customs Officer and the favourite part of my photography job is being able to capture a sometimes mundane scene that everyone sees daily and may overlook, however when I capture it I can do it in a way that makes it seem more interesting or beautiful, which I believe is a gift, that I thank God daily for – Andy Johnson.
The Island Chronicles: Which brings us onto our most loved subject, Grenada. You always take photographs of the landscape in Grenada. What is it about Grenada that stands out for you?
Andy Johnson: Grenada is beautiful! More than a lot of people realise, I remember travelling and missing the very simple things like the views, everyday life such as the cook-outs by the roadside or river, an old man coming from the garden. The island is also very ‘hilly’ and makes for sweeping panoramic views so naturally as a photographer I would tend to document these. When I started to share these images on social media especially and I saw the joy it brought to people and even myself, started to take it more seriously and discovered new places, better views and it has now become part of my life.
The Island Chronicles: We can definitely attest to the beauty that the Spice Isle has. Are there any well-known locations that you love to photograph?
Andy Johnson: I have a thing for the Carenage and I love waterfalls, (especially Annandale). I grew up and live 3 minutes away from the waterfall, but I never limit myself really, whatever my eyes see as interesting in my daily travels, I make a mental note and go back to capturing it.
The Island Chronicles: We can throw in challenge for you, capturing the beauty of the drive up the western side of Grenada, but before that what is the most difficult thing about your job?
Andy Johnson: Generally if you love something it will never seem difficult but I guess maybe, when I see a great photo opportunity and I am denied permission to take that shot, also having a regular 8-4 job and a family, at times I’m accused of spending too much time with the camera.
The Island Chronicles: We are sure your loved ones appreciate the legacy that you are creating. If you had one photographer in the world take a picture of you, who would it be and why?
Andy Johnson: There are many photographers I respect and I am great friends with, so this makes it kind of difficult to decide, but If there was one photographer I would love take my photograph it would be Tony Weeg. I met him online about a year ago through a mutual friend and I fell in love with his style of photography immediately. I think we are kindred spirits; we see things in a similar light (pun intended) and he has helped me polish what I was already doing in ways that no one else have. I think he captures the soul of a person.
The Island Chronicles: And what is next in the future for Andy Johnson?
Andy Johnson: I am currently gathering material to publish a photo book on Grenada and what I can say is that it would be very different from the ones currently available. I am also going to continue generally reading and working on my craft so that whatever comes I am prepared.
See the beautiful work of Andy Johnson by following him on Instagram @andy_johnson_photos.
Images © credit of andyjohnson