We had the good fortune of connecting with Johnnie Sommer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnnie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I started I didn’t really have a thought process. Taking photos past a quick picture taken with an iPhone let alone being a photographer wasn’t even on my radar until 3 years ago. As I got better and I realized this was something I wanted to make a career out of I just did what I had been doing up until that point, getting better. My mentality going in was I was years behind everyone else in the industry. I used that as motivation and practiced every day watching Youtube tutorials, asking other photographers for critiques, and shooting anyone who would let me so that I could bridge that gap. Now that I’m somewhat established in Houston my mentality has shifted more into establishing my brand and being very deliberate with what I shoot so I’m able to start getting more of the clients I want. That includes shooting in a way that establishes a very specific niche, reaching out to desired brands, and as always, improving on what I already do.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me from a technical standpoint apart from other photographers is my composition and editing style. I always try and find a way to shoot my subjects in a way they’ve never been shot before. Often times that means I’ll be lying on a dirty floor trying to get a different yet flattering shot of them. My editing also plays a huge part in setting me apart from my competition. When I look at other people’s work it’s very easy to notice when only five to ten minutes has been put in as opposed to the thirty minutes to an hour that I typically put into each and every photo. Getting to where I am now in just the skill alone was not easy. I watched countless Youtube tutorials trying to learn everything from basic shooting to retouching skin. Countless more hours were put in simply practicing those techniques and at times I was completely dissatisfied with my work. Pushing through those moments so I could create better work was and still is one of the hardest parts of my career. It’s through that experience that I’ve learned that giving up is never an option. If I had given up the first time I wanted to I wouldn’t have gotten to shoot my first clothing line, I wouldn’t have been published in multiple magazines, and most importantly I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people that I call friends today. Ultimately, what kept my story from ending was my ambition. My ambition to get better and succeed in this industry is the main aspect of myself that has made me the photographer I am today.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely take them to a few Mexican Restaurants. A lot of what I do for fun revolves around my job because I am a bit of a workaholic. Dressing them up in a weird outfit and going on a shoot around Houston would be my idea of a good time.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The main people to who I’d like to dedicate my success to are my parents and close friends. Going into an art career with no stable income naturally, parents can be very hesitant to encourage their son to pursue that. But my parents were never really like that. They allowed me to take off from school so that I could further my career and if I had to divide my attention between my photography career and getting a degree I wouldn’t be where I am today. The other people I’d like to thank and shoutout are my fellow photographers and models. This includes my main models who I have been shooting since the first year and a half of my photography career as well as my photographer friends like Bilal Rehman, Senub Rah, and Conor Carlson for working with me, and just being supportive overall. Lastly, it includes a greater part of the Houston creative community because if it wasn’t for them and their meetups I wouldn’t have gotten to take the first few shots that started my career.