Tim Johnson

Photographer Tim Johnson is modest.

“I try and let my images speak for me,” he remarked recently when asked about the process of photographing thousands of images over the years for Island Light, his weekly digital photo essay for the Vineyard Gazette.

To anyone who knows Tim, that comment brings a smile. He may be quiet, but his photos reflect an artist’s keen eye for composition, light, perspective and dynamics. They are stunning.

Tim Johnson

How does the Vineyard Haven photographer, who’s lived most of his life on the Island, pull off getting a dozen fresh photos every week – especially when his day job working for Cape Air at the airport means his free time is limited to a couple days a week?

“I never plan too much,” said the self-taught photographer. “I just turn right to go up-Island or left to go down-Island. And something new always catches my eye.

TIm Johnson

“Sometimes I think, ‘No way! I’ll never get anything great this week!’” he admitted. “But even though I visit the same places again and again, they never look the same because of the light, that Island light. That moment in time when I capture that image will never happen again.”

When considering whether to take a shot, Tim said it’s that light that always grabs his attention first.

Tim Johnson

“Then the colors and textures reel me in. Angles and lines seal the deal,” he said.

There are two ways Tim’s personal style manifests in his photographs. He uses a long lens (70-200 mm) and a low F stop (F1 or F2) to achieve a pleasing depth of field – meaning his subject is in sharp focus while everything else in the photo gradually softens. But that is something that many professional photographers do. Where Tim’s artistry most affects his photos is in his composition. In a photo by Tim, your eye always knows where to go.

Tim Johnson

“I try and fill the frame with the subject,” he said. “When I find something that catches my eye, that’s how I compose it. I focus on it and try to fill the frame with it.”

Tim has found his groove through trial and error.

“I think my personal style evolved through that process of sort of being in my own bubble and learning as I went,” he said. “When I get it right, and the pieces of the puzzle come together, it makes me proud.”