Meet Our Members on Mondays: Erin Johnson Photography

The winners of Two Bright Lights Editors’ Choice 2015 will be announced in two short weeks! We can’t wait to celebrate our community members who were in the top 5% of our published members last year. If you’re new to creating real wedding or event photography submissions, get in the running for 2015 and take some hints from a photographer who has been an Editor’s Choice winner since the program began.

Erin Johnson

Erin Johnson Photography began 15 years ago. Her studio now includes two associate wedding photographers and, as she describes them, “a couple of gals who keep the wheels turning.” They primarily focus on wedding photography, but also expanded into portraits, mitzvahs and events. The studio is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but they love to travel the world for their work.

How did you get started?

“I feel so blessed that photography found me! I went to college for studio art and had no direction on what that would lead to as far as a career. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs so it was in my blood to start my own company at some point. I dropped out of college and was burning the candle on both ends as a waitress at three different restaurants. I did manage to pay off my debt quickly, but I was exhausted. Eventually, I ended up getting hired as a painter at a children’s photography studio. There I discovered photography and thought to myself “I could do that.” It seemed like such an easy way to make art. I was used to days, weeks and sometimes months of working on the same painting or drawing. A painter friend at that studio was also a wedding photographer, and she invited me to check it out. I did and I fell in love. My focus became photography even though I still didn’t know how to use a camera off of program. I assisted at weddings for a year and then started working as a lead through a different studio. After a couple of years, I grew my own company and went out on my own at the same time as having my first daughter. That was a scary step for me, but I am so glad I did.”

What about your work inspires you?

“You know what is great about photography? It brings people together. That is what inspires me to take my work from just images to art. My hope is that people will cherish their wedding photos for many generations. I want people to look at my photos and feel things.

I get very excited when I am presented with an over-the-top wedding that is filled with mind-blowing details and a couple completely in love. My own family is extremely important to me so I enjoy watching the closeness of the many relationships that the bride and groom have. I remember after I had my first daughter I went to a wedding and cried during the father-daughter dance thinking of my own daughter being there someday. The feelings that people get when they look at my photos are the feelings I get to experience when I take them. Oddly, I also really love the high-stress, fast paced timelines and unpredictable events that can happen on a wedding day. The harder I have to work to photograph a wedding the better I feel about my work. I love a good challenge!”

Erin’s Top Pro Tips

“It’s a shark tank out there! I tend to have a real and raw kind of attitude, and I have had to learn to tone that down until I get to know people in the industry. You may be for everyone, but not everyone is for you. The ones that are the gems are worth finding, though.

I think a productive way to learn good photography is to study what you like and then shoot a ton. It is also important to evaluate your work as often as possible. Getting your photos critiqued is insightful. I have found great value in being part of photography groups that are filled with like-minded people. I can get tips and questions answered by colleagues that are in a similar position as myself.”

Erin Johnson Photography

An old Hollywood glam aesthetic inspired this Minneapolis wedding held at Aria, a grand warehouse space.  Erin and her team shoot at this venue often and always do a fabulous job of juxtaposing the beauty of the day amongst the exposed brick interior spaces. Play shot the fun video of the affair.

Bride gets ready for wedding by Erin Johnson Photography
Photography by: Erin Johnson Photography
Bride and groom embrace beneath chandeliers by Erin Johnson Photography
Photography by: Erin Johnson Photography
Wedding with purple accents at Aria by Erin Johnson Photography
Photography by: Erin Johnson Photography

Now for a more traditional take on the big day! Taylor and Leigh wed at the gorgeous Basilica of St. Mary, where Taylor was confirmed as a girl. Erin Johnson Photography is clearly just as ease capturing important moments, big and small, no matter the venue. A heartwarming example of this is the portrait of the bride and groom at the altar, as he leans in to whisper something sweet to his bride. A perfect shot!

Groom kisses bride at altar by Erin Johnson Photography
Photography by: Erin Johnson Photography
Bride and groom hold hands by Erin Johnson Photography
Photography by: Erin Johnson Photography
Bride and groom leave church by by Erin Johnson Photography
Photography by: Erin Johnson Photography

Erin’s Two Bright Lights Experience

“Two Brights Lights is an amazing resource! I love how easy it has made getting my work published. Creating a submission takes a lot of work and thought, so I appreciate that I only have to do it once on TBL. I have worked harder on getting things published this last year and it is amazing to see that almost every wedding we photograph can be featured somewhere. TBL has connected me with so many blogs and magazines that I didn’t even know were out there.

Publications help my clients feel like stars for a day. Some of my clients ask me from the beginning how to plan their wedding so it will get published. The vendors that I work with enjoy the extra exposure and the added credentials to their portfolios. I think all of my features have greatly contributed to Erin Johnson Photography staying on the top of the google search for “Minneapolis wedding photographer”. This alone brings in half my business. Overall TBL has been a great contributor to my marketing strategy.”




Hayley & Tony’s wedding: Equipment Rentals: Apres Party and Tent Rental//Reception Venue: Aria//Caterer: Create Catering//Dress Store: L’Atelier Couture//Transportation: Lorenz Bus Service//Event Planner: mi mi design//Cinema and Video:Play//Band: Synergy Wedding Band//Hair Stylist: Tres Jolie Salon//Dress Designer: Vera Wang//

Taylor & Leigh’s wedding: Dress Designer: Allure Bridal//Floral Designer: Bachman’s//Ceremony Location:Basilica of St. Mary// Tuxedo and Mens Attire: J Crew// Event Planner: Kismet Event Group// Makeup Artist: Lianna Colestock// Caterer: Loring Pasta Bar// Invitation Designer: Minted// Cinema and Video: Play// Transportation: Schmitty & Sons// Musicians: The Sevilles// Location:The Varsity Theater// Hair Stylist: Tres Jolie Salon//
Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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