In many East Asian philosophies, gardening has been viewed as an artistic pursuit for thousands of years. The underlying aesthetic principles focus on achieving complete harmony between man and his natural environment. Roman Johnston finds inspiration in the understated elegance of Japanese gardens, seeking to capture their carefully designed and maintained order in his photographs. Flooded with sunlight, the rich, brightly coloured groves are harmonious and radiant. The American artist knows how to bring out the refined beauty of these settings and how to translate and transmit the subtle language of Japanese gardens.
Roman Johnston is driven by his love of nature. Self-taught, he learned and perfected his camera skills through consistent interaction with his surroundings, which serve as an endless source of inspiration for him. In particular, it was the beauty of the forests on the West Coast of the United States that inspired him to transform the vibrant elegance of nature into timeless masterpieces of photography. For many years now, Roman Johnston has exclusively devoted his efforts to landscape photography, turning his passion into a profession. He is regarded as an outstanding photographer in the U.S. and beyond.
|2012||November City of Portland, Portland Building, Portland, OR, USA|
Picasso once said, “you don’t make art, you find it.” Where do you find your art?
Wherever the universe points me.
From an idea to its materialization: How do you approach your work?
Interesting question. I find ANYTHING that requires innovation and craftsmanship can be found in “Zen Moments”. Once you learn to meditate, eventually you find a connection to a voice that is always talking but we often do not understand how to listen to it. Once you do find that connection you can always find it even when not meditating on purpose. I call this a “walking meditation”. So, when I get to a place I want to photograph. I center myself. Give thanks for even being there and the opportunity to just see what the place has to offer. After that the universe takes over and walks me through every place that I need to be in that moment to capture something beautiful. Once you understand your gear and committed the actions to make the camera work…. second nature. Then you can walk in “Zen Moment” mode and engage with the beauty before you. This is why you should learn your controls of your camera and make it so you automatically do what you need to in any scene. Nothing knocks you out of the walking meditation quicker than have to mess with a camera you do not know the controls of.
What is your favorite book?
Conversations With God – Neale Donald Walsch. If you are connected with the universe this is just an understanding you are not alone in that connection. If you are not, it is rather eye opening to how the universe works and thinking outside the box of our current paradigm.
Which artist would you like to have coffee with and what would you discuss?
Unfortunately, the one I would like to talk with most has passed in a plane crash doing what they love. Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara. I love his adventurous spirit and the teamwork of husband and wife.
How did you get into art?
Rather by accident. When I first got to the west coast of the US for technical work, I found the beauty out here was mind boggling. So, I started hiking. Eventually I started taking a camera with me to bring back the beauty. I would hang the pictures in my cubicle at work. After coming back from an appointment, I would find random people sitting in my cube.
They would take their breaks in my cube (I was often away taking care of tech tickets for computers) taking in the beauty I found while hiking. After realizing that my work brought peace and joy to others. I realized that I might be able to make a living at doing what I loved. Discovering beauty and bringing it back for others to experience.
Who are the people in your surroundings that influence you?
My wife. The love she gives is beyond measure. That is all the influence I need. As love meshes perfectly with the creative mind and spirit. A home and life in turmoil will never supply the peace a creative mind needs to work.
Imagine you have a time machine. Where would you go?
Better question is where WOULDN’T I go?!? But first, I would go to the future to see how we (humanity) has survived our evolutionarily adolescence.
Other than art, what are you most passionate about?
My own spiritual growth. Connecting with “all that is” has given me a peace and a clarity that drives everything I do. Love should be our value system, not money. That is our next step in our evolution. It seems weird to anyone trapped in the cognitive box our world raises us in and teaches us to think within. Shred the box. Explore your world. Find your balance.
What are you working on right now?
I am ALWAYS looking for the “Next Best Thing”. Whether it be a new place to explore, expanding my understanding of my craft. If I am to share my beauty and peace that I find to my clients. I have to constantly improve. I specialize in large prints and extracting the most from what my camera captures. There are always new things to explore and grow within.
My next adventure is a trip out to the South West deserts in the US. It is a special place that puts out so much energy and beauty (which both of those are very synonymous) The smell of a fresh rain in the desert can recharge one’s soul. The stark beauty and emptiness. The connection is deeper in the desert, at least for me it is.