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Working from behind a lens: an interview with Shamus Johnson

Shamus Johnson
Shamus Johnson


Working from behind a lens: an interview with Shamus Johnson

Shamus Johnson is the founder and primary photographer at his eponymous business, Shamus Photography. Shamus has been providing loyal customers with a range of evocative, stunning prints for many years, which has ensured that his business has thrived. His portfolio consists of a range of stunning images, including snapshots from the countryside and even oceanic views from his home state of California.

If you want to learn more about Shamus’ life and career, read some of his insightful answers to our questions we posed to him. You can also see some of his art below:

Sidewalk salon Danang VN by Shamus Johnson

Sidewalk salon Danang VN


Navy buddy 'T' Atsugi, Japan by Shamus Johnson

Navy buddy ‘T’ Atsugi, Japan


Street Market Vietnam by Shamus Johnson

Street Market Vietnam


Shamus, in your opinion, when is the best time of the year to shoot and does this vary from year to year?

Every season has something worth going after.  Winter for its barren, desolate beauty.   Fall for its colors and its sweetness, knowing a bleakness is coming around the corner.  Summer for its bright colors and landscapes. But it’s not really the seasons for me.  It’s more the time of day and the weather.  I’m an early morning photographer. And I love stormy weather, so much so that I have a lot of rain gear specifically to protect my camera gear from the elements.

How important is having the latest, most up to date equipment? Has the rise of cell-phone cameras helped your business?

Not the latest equipment, really, but the latest technology.  A good example is what allowed me to move away from Nikon to other cameras, like Canon.  My Canon M50 mirrorless camera has everything from 4k video to Bluetooth and the ability to shoot in a raw format as well as a silent shutter, which is good for street photography, and it only weighs 17oz. My Nikon D800 doesn’t have Bluetooth, only 1080p video, weighs 3lbs. 3 oz., and when you click the shutter, the whole world knows.

Cell phones are another great example of the value of technology in photography.  The cameras on some of these phones are incredible.  I have used mine at times when I didn’t have my camera gear with me and have come away with some very high-quality photographs.

In your many decades of being a photographer, what would you say has been the biggest change to the way photography operates and why?

From my start in high school in 1969 through my stint in the Navy from 1972 to 76 and into the nineties, the entire process was slow and ‘wet’.  Everything used to be done in darkrooms filled with chemicals.  I can still smell the D-76 and D-72. Your photograph couldn’t see the light of day until the final fixer (another chemical) had been applied.  And without computers and applications like Photoshop, there was very little post-processing to be done.  One example of how big that is, is telephone poles.  They ruined numerous possibilities.   They seemed to always be in the way.  Now, with photoshop, you can get rid of them in seconds.  Problem solved.

How have you been adjusting your services given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?

I haven’t been doing any street photography, or anything to do with people.  Actually, I haven’t been shooting a lot of anything.  I spend most of my time working on old photos I’ve got archived.  I didn’t know I had so many photos archived until now.  It’s been a good time to catch up and discover forgotten photographs.  I’m always moving and looking forward.  When I shoot 100 photos on an outing, I look for the best 3 or 4 and work on those, forgetting about the others because I’m off on to something new.  It can be interesting to see what was left out.  I’ve found some great shots that would have remained buried if not for this pandemic.

Thank you Shamus for your time!
You can follow up with Shamus Johnson at
Please contact him with inquiries at 


Veronica Mak

I'm a New York-based journalist covering business, celebrity and entertainment news at Josep Vinaixa. I hold a master's degree from New York University of Journalism.

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