Photography Case Study: Jan Johnson

Ever wondered how photographers get where they are today, how long it took them, and what their turning points were?  I know I do and I bet you do too, so today, my fav "momtog" Jan Johnson is going to be sharing the story of her photography journey with you, along with some details on how she shoots.  Jan was one of the very first readers of this ol' blog, way back in 2013, and at that time, she was incredibly frustrated because although she could see exactly how she wanted the picture to look in her head, she couldn't quite get the camera to co-operate! I know that many of you will feel that same frustration RIGHT NOW, so I hope seeing someone else progression helps you realise that you will get there too! Over to Jan...

When Audrey asked me if I’d be interested in writing about my photography journey, I laughed at myself and shook my head a bit.  I hope this post encourages all the weary mammas out there who desperately want to capture their everyday beautifully.  You can do this.  You can absolutely do this.  

All through high school and college, I wanted to learn photography but couldn’t wrap my brain around the exposure triangle and numbers.  It simply didn’t make sense.  When I had my first child, I decided that I’d try once again to learn the silly numbers.  Well, I failed.  I gave up after reading every library book available.  Then I had my second child and said enough is enough.  I told myself that I was going to learn.  Thankfully, I found Clickin Moms and Audrey’s site Live Snap Love in late 2012 and devoured all the information that I could during precious nap time minutes.  

We all start somewhere and that somewhere is a great place to be.  At my starting line, I knew that I wanted to capture authentic, everyday moments because my poor brain was too tired to actually remember them.  However, month after month, I had one image in my head and another one showing on my computer screen.



I loved this one and still do.  The connection between my daughter and her daddy is something I can feel when I look at this image.  However, it wasn’t what I envisioned in my head.  Only recently have I felt like I can capture what I see in my head and feel in my heart, and it’s taken me nearly four years to get there.  You read that correctly, four years!  


I signed up for Clickin Moms Mastering Natural Light Indoors class as a study along student in January 2013.  While taking the class, I learned that light is everything in photography.  I also learned that it was going to take a while to be able to learn how to read light and use it to tell a story.   Audrey was so very kind to teach me about metering later in 2013, which helped bring everything together.  I credit Audrey for my biggest ah-ha moments!

I consider my work to be documentary in nature.  My goal is to capture life as it really is.  I never set up a scene or plan an activity for taking pictures.  I simply document what’s already going on.  I’m terrible at directing people for any type of portrait work, and it completely bores me to do so.  Capturing my girls doing their thing will forever be my love.  When they happen to be doing their thing in yummy light, my heart really sings!  

I will forever love details and pretty light.  I shoot with a Nikon 750, and my favorite lens is the Sigma Art 35 1.4.  It’s a dream!

I typically shoot in Manual Mode but with auto ISO selected unless I’m metering for something very specific or working with tricky lighting.  If I’m shooting with auto ISO, I use matrix metering.  If I’m shooting with manual ISO, I use spot metering.  I always shoot with Kelvin to make editing in batches simple in Lightroom.  I love Lightroom because I always have a book going with Blurb, and it saves a lot of time to do everything through Lightroom. I typically print two or three 240 page books a year!  I love holding actual prints too and print favorites for frames.

Since you are reading this post, you’ve already found one of the best resources on the internet, Audrey’s page!  She’s a gifted teacher, and I’m so very thankful for her and her endless patience with me.  Audrey was the first person who helped me finally understand the exposure triangle, white balance, metering, and more.  Thank you, Audrey!

I continue to learn more each day, and I’m eager to see where I am this time next year on this thing called my photography journey.  The best advice I can give is to keep on keeping on.  Pick up your camera everyday and edit the same night.  It’s best to stay on top of things and get immediate feedback about what works and what doesn’t.  You can do this.  You can absolutely do this.