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Rising Stars: Meet Anthony Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anthony Johnson.

Hi Anthony, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I purchased my first camera while in high school as a way to share hunting and hiking stories with family and friends. Not long after I started using the camera for camping and climbing trips while in college. Shooting rock climbing media is where I really started to hone my photography skills both in-camera and with editing post-production.

At the time I was working in the outdoor industry as a sales rep and this gave me a little bit of a foot in with some outdoor industry brands and allowed me to begin transitioning from being a hobbyist to actually making some income for my photography work.

For a time outdoor industry work was just a fun part-time income, but it quickly became apparent that making it in the outdoor industry as a full-time photographer was probably not going to happen. It is a pretty saturated market and there are more folks who want to be outdoor photographers than there is work to be had plus most outdoor industry brands prefer to just give away products in exchange for media vs paying for work.

So two years ago with the onset of the pandemic, I found myself traveling less as a sales rep and working from home. This gave me time and opportunity to work on other projects and I decided to try pivoting my photography to an adjacent industry, firearms, firearm accessories, and hunting.

The hook and bullet industry as it is sometimes referred to wasn’t much of a change for me, I grew up enjoying all aspects of outdoor sports including hunting, fishing, and shooting sports. So really it was just a change in the products/models, but the photography styles and themes are pretty similar. The major difference though is this market segment has been much better to work with as a photographer trying to make a living.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Having spent time shooting media while working in other industries I have developed shooting styles that are less common in the firearms marketing world and this allows me to shoot content that stands out from some of the other content seen in the industry.

One of the best things I have done for the business that sets me apart from many of the photographers in this industry is that I have gone through the leg work of setting up Federal Firearms Licenses (FFL) for my business. For those unfamiliar with firearms, an FFL is the business license that you would see at a gun shop or dealer that allows them to sell/transfer firearms. The advantage of this for me as a photographer is that when a firearm brand books me for media I can handle the firearm transfer in-house vs needing to send it to a third party. Not only does this clean up logistics for me and the brands I am working with, but it also speeds up turnaround times on how fast I can produce media. Often, I will have deliverables sent back to a brand within a few days of receiving their product.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
Be persistent, be polite, and stay away from any drama. It doesn’t matter what field you are in, it is always a small world and even if you are not working with someone right now there is probably a good chance you will cross paths down the road.

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