Rock Photographer Lisa Johnson
Tell us a little about yourself, your background and where you're from. I'm from Los Angeles, California. Been here all my life. This big city seems like a small town sometimes.
When did your interest in photography begin? My interest in photography began very early on. I was probably about 5. Maybe younger. By the time I was about 9 my mom bought me my own camera because I had commandeered hers.
What was your first camera? My own first camera was a little Kodak Instamatic that my mom bought for me. I grew out of it pretty fast. Then I had real a Ricoh SLR, where I could focus and set the exposure and stuff like that, and then I moved onto the Nikon FM-2. Which I love still to this day.
What was the first band you ever shot, and what was the experience like? How did the photos turn out? I don't even remember. Is that bad? The first band to give me a photo pass was Depeche Mode. That was kind of a big deal! I remember that for sure! I'd been shooting music and bands for awhile, but I'd always had to push my way to the front and hold tight to the barricade while trying to compose my shot. Being in the photo pit was so exciting. My photos came out OK. I remember there being a lot of backlight.
Tell us about the music scene at the time. What were the bands you were shooting? I've always tended to be drawn towards music that moves me. In the clubs. I like to get up close. And I don't mind sweating. I went to the Club Lingerie and Raji's a lot.
Did you have a "big break"? It seems like every week is a big break. Important moments would certainly be shooting Rage Against The Machine, very early in their career. Shooting bands like Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins in the early '90s, while at the time seemed common place, in retrospect, those were very pivotal photo sessions.
Tell us about the time you shot photos of Nirvana. It was in Seattle at the Edgewater Hotel. And it l was given 20 minutes. It was intense! But I did it in 18 minutes and I was really pleased. We all were. I really love those photos.
How did your relationship with Hurley come about? They'd approached me about shooting a few seasons of fashion for them for their catalogues. That was a lot of fun. And a lot of hard work.
How did this collaboration come about? Greg Teal at Hurley spearheaded a collaboration with my rock photography. Hurley is a great, innovative company with a real interest in artists and the arts. And music. With me, it's kind of the best of both worlds when you combine fashion with my rock photograph. It's like wearable art.
Which three photos in your career are you proudest of? There are so many, so I'm gonna narrow it down to the last 2 years. I'd have to say: The Gaslight Anthem album cover, the William Control album art and cover, and a photo I took of Rise Against performing live ties a session I did with Mariachi El Bronx at Emo's in Austin, Texas.
Film or digital? I much prefer film. I have done a million tests. And in the end, film wins every time when judging the visuals for my style. I really hate the look of digital. But I do it.
Would you punch an alien? Never. Or not on purpose, anyway. --by Caroline Ryder
To shop the Lisa Johnson collection, go here.