Bryan Johnson Studio

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Saturday Down South

 
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In September of 2015 I was commissioned to document the culture of a game day in Tuscaloosa. That particular day was a big one : Ole Miss was traveling to Alabama and the ESPN Gameday crew was on campus. The first part of my day was spent capturing the entire experience of a Gameday show recording - the rabid fans, the iconic hosts, the guest picker (musician Eric Church) and of course Coach Nick Saban.

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The game was at night and I had most of the day to explore the campus and capture what ever I found interesting. I had no specific shot list - just an afternoon to wander amongst the bars, the frat houses and tailgates - meeting and photographing people along the way. 

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I entered Bryant-Denny stadium after the Walk of Champions, a game day tradition where the Bama players walk from the bus to the locker room through a sea of fans. Instead of a side-line pass, I was given a 50 yard line ticket to the game. My images from inside the stadium captured more of what it felt like to be at the game, not the game itself. I would love to do more of this type of work - capturing the raw environment that makes live sporting events so emotionally charged and riveting.

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Bryan Johnson
Festive 500 : The Round About Way

 
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I started cycling in 2014. In that same year, my one cycling buddy showed me a Rapha Continental film. The film showcased a ride that honored cyclist Bryan Chapman. The ride featured a group of 7 or so cyclists riding 600 kilometers through the mountains in Wales’ treacherous winter weather. 

This was my first exposure to these films, and it ignited something inside of me. I had no idea that cyclists could look so fashionable on a bike. This film also revealed that cycling could be communal and adventurous. I loved the idea of suffering with a group of friends to accomplish a goal, then celebrating over beer and food! As a photographer, I resonated with Rapha’s entire brand both visually and communally. They have always represented the perfect nexus of sport, fashion, nature and design. For me, photography and cycling go hand in hand.

Today, I have the privilege of being part of the Drama Kings, a cycling club in Birmingham’s (AL) neighborhood of Crestwood. Most of us will never be more than hobbyists (although we had a few amateur podium finishes this year). Our mission is simple - to push each other physically, to explore our city and to enjoy fellowship. Rapha played a part in shaping this mission and makes us look good while doing it.

This year, I completed my first Festive 500. With the help of the Drama Kings, I never rode a mile of it alone. With my Leica M 262 strapped to my back, I documented our rides. The Festive 500 was physically grueling, and photographing it was an additional challenge. While the Festive roundel will be cool to sew on the back of my Rapha Classic Jersey, the experience of suffering, supporting and celebrating with these men is what I cherish most. To quote the Rapha film that got it all started for me, “There’s a lot of camaraderie on rides like this because everyone knows what your end goal is, though you might sometimes be taking the round about way getting there.”

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Bryan Johnson
Chick-fil-A : Where Good Meets Gracious

 

In 2015, Chick-fil-A hired our studio to help subtly reinforce their brand promise, “Where Good Meets Gracious,” inside their dining rooms. CFA had traditionally used the walls of their dining rooms for promotional and informational purposes. 

They envisioned telling stories through photographs about their process, culture, partners, and tribe. Instead of a photo of a glass of lemonade, we would show the lemon farm, the farmers, and how each glass of hand squeezed goodness is made.

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In order for a CFA guest to feel at home while eating, the images needed to be both simple and natural. The stories would be told in black and white, a bold yet thoughtful move for their brand.  Black and white imagery carries with it a nostalgic and familiar quality, evoking comfort and trust - all qualities that CFA imbues. 

Our team traveled all over the country capturing stories about foster care, Little League baseball, camp-outs, nursing homes, chefs, and farmers. The stories were documented as a narrative: no portraiture or posing. The image panels, with minimal copy, invite guests to view the full stories on their relaunched website.

This project is a testament to CFA’s commitment to their tribe. This subtle campaign also reveals the priority to make guests feel at home while in their restaurants.  What an honor it was for our studio to work on such an inspiring project.

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Bryan Johnson
Athletes in Monochrome

 

I have always loved Annie Leibovitz’s photobook Olympic Portraits. The book is a collection of images she captured of the U.S. Olympians leading up to the 1996 games in Atlanta. What is most striking is that she photographed all of the athletes in black and white. She brought artfulness and intentionality previously unseen in sports imagery.

Leibovitz inspired me to photograph Altamont sports in a similar fashion. The black and white medium allows the viewer a glimpse into the character of the athlete and the true emotions of the moment. Below are a few spreads from Olympic Portraits followed by my Altamont images.

 
Bryan Johnson