About Me - Rick Johnson Photography

Nancy and I are both ecologists. She is one of the foremost experts on the ecology of mycorrhizae (you may need to Google that), and I spent my conservation career working first in the tallgrass prairies of the Midwest and later on river ecosystems in the Southwest. We've been immensely fortunate that our careers and interests have allowed us to live and work in several states and countries throughout the world.

After more than 35 years of environmental conservation work, I have turned my attention to visual storytelling using high-quality digital images. I love the direct conservation work, but there is a crucial need for compelling images and stories to successfully raise awareness and funds for conservation actions. Now that my children have fledged, I have the flexibility to pursue my interests in conservation by creating those images.

I also enjoy shooting portraits, and being a photographer in a curious town like Flagstaff, I have lots of opportunity to photograph performing arts and other community events. I love residing in northern Arizona with Nancy, my wonderful wife who inspires and somehow puts up with me, along with Alice and Zack, our two goofy rescue dogs.

What's with the whale logo?

Whales inspire me. It’s not just the long list of superlatives regarding their size, strength, intelligence, and vocalizations. It’s not just my curiosity about their mysterious life history (what are they really doing 200 meters below the ocean's surface?). It’s not even the audacity of the sperm whale that sunk the whaling ship Essex in 1820 (and inspired Herman Meville to write “Moby Dick”).

Although all of the above is fascinating, the inspiration is more personal. Quite by chance and under duress in a fourth-grade art class, I reluctantly fashioned a crude whale out of clay. I really liked my whale, but it didn’t meet the ridiculously high standards I had at the time for an unwilling artist in elementary school. With intense mixed-emotions, in my only instance of performance art, I smashed the whale to bits by hurling it against a brick wall. I tend to be significantly more forgiving of my flaws today, but whales remind me of the strong desire I have for quality craftsmanship, and inspire me to regularly step out of my comfort zone to try new things and experience new places.


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