Shamus Johnson Discusses the Life of a Modern Photographer


With many years of experience in the photography field, Shamus Johnson has cultivated a strong reputation for quality and consistency. His business, Shamus Photography, has been providing customers with amazing image prints, both acrylic and canvas form for many years.

He provides custom-made prints of some of nature’s most beautiful scenery, whether it be in the heart of the countryside or coastal views of some of California’s most amazing ocean scenes. Here are examples of what he refers to as Black and White with Color:

Maggie in Montevideo:

Maggie in Montevideo

El Morro. Puerto Rico:

El Morro. Puerto Rico



Shamus, what keeps you motivated every day to be a photographer?

There’s something new every day to be discovered, observed and photographed. It’s the opposite of sitting in a cubicle doing the same thing over and over, which I’ve done.  For me, photography is something that renews itself.  As soon as I have finished with one photograph, I am immediately filled with the urge to look for another.  No redundancy.  Always fresh.

Is there any specific place or landmark you dream of photographing one day?

I want to spend a year taking pictures around Tuscany – inside and out.  I think Tuscany is a lot like the central coast of California, where I grew up and got started in photography.  A lot of rolling hills and vineyards everywhere.  Sunny with a temperate climate.  I think I’d like to do a whole photo book, a catalogue, an in-depth study of its landscapes and people.  Actually, that’s next on my list.

How does your creative process work and where do you get your ideas from when it comes to taking photos?

That’s an extremely interesting question and one that is difficult to answer. I may not have a satisfactory answer for it that other people would find useful.  That’s why I think we are born with what’s needed to be creative, rather than learning it.  What stirs me to take and work on an image is tied up with a lifetime of experience that is impossible to disentangle.  But that’s also why every artist has their own view of ‘art’, I think.  Sorry, I know that’s not very helpful.  It’s a mystery.

In your experience, what is the most common thing customers want when they inquire about your work?

I think they are most happy when what they are looking at causes them to feel, not think, first. They get an immediate gut reaction. They either like it or they don’t, regardless of whether or not they can explain why.  That’s the way I look at art in general.  I don’t feel a need to defend or explain it to anyone, and they shouldn’t either.  Unless you are an interior decorator, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

What do you think is the most important thing a photographer needs in order to enhance the quality of their work?

The way I shoot it’s necessary to master all aspects of the photographic process. From taking the shot, to processing it after it’s taken.  The first part has always come naturally, the second took me a long time to master.  I am still in the process of honing that skill.  It comes down to how you get what you’ve taken in the field out of the camera and on to a wall.  Everything has to be aligned for that particular shot, the contrast, color, resolution – everything.  In my style of photography, I am trying to express a mood or experience that is not locked in a particular time frame, it exists outside of time.  That’s not easy.  It goes back to my early days living and studying in Japan, I’m sure.  Like I said before, I really grew up in Japan artistically.

How important is your photography being recognized with awards and accolades? Or do you find there is something deeper to your work?

I think when I was younger, awards were important. They were one way of letting you know you were doing something right, I guess.  But now, I don’t find that sort of recognition useful or necessary.  At this point, I know what is good, to me, anyway, and that’s the most important thing.  I appreciate it when photographers that I admire say something nice about my work.  But there’s something so arbitrary about awards.  How can you choose one photo out of 100 great photos and say it is the best?  And awards are locked in a time frame that reflects what is popular thinking or trendy at that particular time. That’s always changing.  Van Gogh is a great example.  Most importantly, photography to me is not about winning.  I know a lot of artists might disagree, especially when money is involved.  Money is a type of award or accolade. I don’t need to make a living from my photography anymore.  That alone is a great freedom.

Thank you Shamus for your time!
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