Subtle Surrealism By 18-Year-Old Photographer, Sam Johnson

Australian photographer Sam Johnson’s series ‘Shades’ skirts the boundary of illusory photography. At just 18 years of age, the London-based photographer has impressive skill, and there are more to his photographs than meets the eye.

Johnson’s interest in photography developed during his adolescence, much of which was spent at his local skate park. “I used to film my friends skating a lot when I was younger”, he tells IGNANT. “It was such a great thing for me and still informs the way I take photos today”. A desire to formulate a creative outlook on things around him naturally led to a curiosity with surrealism. Johnson’s images are of familiar human scenes laced with vivid color, yet they challenge the viewer’s perception in subtle ways. “I’ve always enjoyed surreal scenes, typically because they incorporate familiar things like the plastic bag”, he says, “but the composition is what makes it sort of strange”. There are no faces or identities in Johnson’s body of work; a deliberate move which leaves ‘Shades’ with an atmosphere of mystery. When asked why he chose to keep his subjects anonymous, the photographer explains that the process was born out of private experimentation. “I just really wanted to leave my comfort zone, and shoot photos of interesting strangers in the streets of London, in an inconspicuous way”. Does Johnson need the unfamiliarity that comes from living overseas to create these moments? “I think it helped a lot. Being in new environments makes your brain work twice as fast so I think that factored into the creation of the ‘Shades’ series”.

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All images © Sam Johnson

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