We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christine, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Without a doubt, the “POMODORO TECHNIQUE”. It is a time management system that I apply to all parts of my life, but for work it has been instrumental in completing projects on time and understanding the value of my time.
When I got home, I went online and bought the book. It took me about six months to really get it and since, I have stuck with it for years . It has changed the way I think, price myself, tackle things I procrastinate on and it just simplified life in general. In a nutshell, it is a reminder to focus on the big picture in everything you do. Do not get bogged down by the tiny details. It’s like when you lose your keys, if you step away you usually turn around and there they are.
If you have ever focused solely on something for 25 minutes, it is astonishing how much can get done. A 25 minute block is called a POMODORO. I know exactly how many POMODOROS it requires to edit a wedding, a portrait, clean my kitchen, go grocery shopping etc… So… now I have an absolute understanding of what my time is worth, and set a realistic schedules for myself. Prior to understanding this system, I always took longer than I said, not because I was slacking, but because I didn’t actually know how long things took. I just knew I was working ALL the time and felt stressed about being behind. This doesn’t happen anymore and it is a game changer… no more waking up in the middle of the night thinking of everything I am behind on.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Sometimes I feel awkward about calling myself an artist. My first experience as a photographer was a job. I had a belief that I could make a living doing it. Not because I was any good, but because I had read an article about a girl who did and I thought “why not me?” This is one of the best parts about being young… I didn’t know all of the reasons why something couldn’t work. Even writing this now, I need to remind myself to forget the “rules” and try new things… act like it doesn’t matter what the result is. The best things always come from the unexpected turn. I am never convinced I do not have a lot more to learn… After twenty plus years shooting, I am now creating a studio space in my backyard for a different kind of portrait. I have used natural light my entire career…. I have reinvented before and it is time again.
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.
Years ago, I had the incredible opportunity of shooting for the Navajo Nation. I could not believe how many insanely beautiful places there are in this state… in our own backyards. I would take my best friend on a journey through this ever changing landscape. There is a place called Coal Mine Canyon near Tuba city that is put of this world beautiful … and seemingly untouched. and lately I go to Toms Thumb Trailhead in Scottsdale. I think its important to mention that I am not a hiker or camper and it is possible to enjoy these amazing places without being an “athlete”. I also love the Desert Botanical Gardens. My favorite restaurants are Hillstone, Chestnut at the Vintage and TexAz Grill. So different from each other, but always a nice experience…
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
John Hall/Photographer … I used to print for John when I was “becoming” a photographer… I loved my time in the darkroom. He taught me how a story on paper could have its meaning changed with one extra second burning or dodging. We all know that digital photography should not be taken at face value, but that was the case even in the film days… be careful in making certain assumptions about what you are looking at… and as I get older, I know this actually applies in almost everything in life. As far as shooting, the best thing he taught and still emphasizes… “forget the dog and pony show”. I could complicate the photo experience with heavy impressive equipment but as John taught me… most of the time, you don’t really need it. That would be for the “show”. The end product is what matters and then of course, how you make people feel.