An Interview with Photographer Robert Johansson

Robert Johansson, born in Sweden, is a New York City based professional and accomplished photographer. He has been taking photographs for almost 3 decades, and the primary focus of his work is fashion and editorial assignments.
As a fashion photographer, he mainly works on projects that are a collaborative process with stylists, models, and designers. He works for clients (Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Gant, Gap, H&M, Uniqlo…) and magazines (W Magazine, Interview Magazine, Intermission Magazine…) in NYC, as well as abroad.
Robert pushes the boundaries of the profession to create images that are emotional, full of energy, and that capture a unique moment in time. Besides being talented at shooting, he understands today’s skills to make it in this industry: not only a solid technical knowledge, but also understand the client expectations and budgets, build strong working relationships with editors, art directors, make-up artists, hairstylists…

Thank you Robert, for sharing a glance from your work, your vision and style of photography.

Michael Kors – Photo by Robert Johansson
Michael Kors – Photo by Robert Johansson
Michael Kors – Photo by Robert Johansson
Michael Kors – Photo by Robert Johansson

1- Hello Robert, tell us a little bit about you: where do you come from, and how long have you lived in New York?
I am born and raised in a cute small town called Sala. It´s located 2 hours northwest of Stockholm in Sweden and I have been living in NYC since February 2008.

2- How long have you been a photographer?
I have been making a living of my photography for almost 12 years now.

3- How did you develop an interest in photography?
I started to take interest in photography when I was out traveling for 5 months in the Middle East in 1996.

4- How did you start your career? and did you go to school to study photography?
It all started when I applied to a 1 year film and photography school after my trip in 96 and got accepted. After finishing the year in school I got the advise from my teacher to start looking for a job as an assistant in Stockholm to get a deeper knowledge and education about photography and also the business. I actually opened the Phonebook on A and got a hold of a Photography-duo that was looking for a new full time assistant, I tried out for the job on a Friday and started work with them on the Monday after. Believe I work with them for two and a half years. I continued to work as a full time assistant for another 8 years or so for two fashion photographers.

5- What are the biggest challenges of working as a photographer in New York City?
I would say the competition for jobs is probably number one.

6- Do you have an agent? Which are the ways you market your photography?
I do not have any agent yet. I am setting up meetings to show my work for advertising agencies, fashion companies, magazines etc. I also have a website.

7- How important is Photoshop (post processing) in your final images?
Photoshop is very important in this digital age, but not that I use it too much to manipulate with my images. I see it more as a modern tool instead of the darkroom.

8- Here in NYC, what gives you ideas and inspires you (whose work has influenced you most, or a photographer who inspires you)?
I get a lot of my inspiration from people and the streets, I also like museums and galleries for inspiration. I always liked the photographer William Eggleston for his good composition and beautiful color images and to name one of the fashion photographer I like, I would say Helmut Newton.

9- What is your favorite image you have professionally shot recently? Can you describe why?

09.Intermission Mag
Intermission Magazine – Photo by Robert Johansson

I like this image I captured for Intermission Magazine of a Brooklyn painter that also makes tattoos for his friends.
Personally I like the connection and the moment between the focused artist and his friend laying on down the table and also that his friend is looking at me, that bring us all three together in a nice way.

10- Do you make time for personal photographic work? If so, what do you enjoy photographing and do you have an image you can share with us?
I am trying to focus more on my personal work at the moment. Could be anything from traveling, to documentary projects, or just me wander the streets chasing a nice light or a smile.
This portrait was taken of a guy I started talking with waiting on my bicycle getting fixed at the bike shop.

10.Bryant K
Photo by Robert Johansson

11- And the last question, what has been your most memorable assignment and why?
Last year I got to work along side a book project about a famous Swedish painter named Anders Zorn 1860-1920.
He often used the camera as a sketchbook/diary and for the first time his photography got published in a book named Zorn the photographer. My role in this project was to go in the darkroom and print a selected number of edition prints for sale to gather money for keeping the negatives safe in a proper archival way. For me this was very exciting to work with 100 years old negatives that never been printed before and also to be back in the darkroom, using old school methods making prints again.


+1 (917) 477 9721

Image credits: Robert Johansson © 

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