Dean Harvey Johns is an adventure and lifestyle photographer from New Zealand. His portfolio is currently blooming with stunning photographs of landscapes and nature, which are inspiring an abundance of people on his social platforms. Our NZP team was lucky enough to chat with Dean about inspiration, creative droughts, the beauty of New Zealand, and much more.
Enjoy this interview with one of our favourite Kiwi artists!
Please tell us about yourself!
My name is Dean Johns, I'm a 25 year old lifestyle/adventure photographer based in Nelson, New Zealand. I'm a born and bred kiwi but just moved back home in January after spending the last 4-5 years playing drums professionally for a band in Australia. There was never really a moment in my life where I decided I was going to be a photographer, it was more of a natural occurrence. I bought my first point and shoot camera before a trip to Canada in my senior year, the photos were terrible, but several months down track I realised I really enjoyed taking photos, so I saved for a DSLR and bought my first one just after graduating high school. From there, the rest is history.
What is the most important thing a budding landscape photographer should know?
Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I think the biggest thing I've learned from taking adventure/lifestyle images is trying a lot of different styles and colours until I found something that was me. Once you snap that perfect shot or finally discover the colours you've been wanting to edit, it'll inspire you to go out more and create the visual stories you've been wanting to. There have been moments where I've literally been so stoked on getting that perfect edit, that I'd be out the door camera in hand at 5am the next morning just to get that perfect sunrise shot. So don't be afraid to experiment a little, your personal style takes time to develop, so don't rush it.
How has New Zealand inspired you as an artist?
I think this one speaks enough for itself! Having spent the last 4+ years in Western Australia, returning home has opened my eyes to the raw beauty of New Zealand again. I was never really into hiking or exploring much when I was younger, so I'm quite eager to get out and go see places that I haven't for a long time.
You post a lot of inspiring quotes and photos on your Instagram. What advice would you give to someone who's going through a creative drought?
I find that creativity for me will naturally flow when I'm doing the things that I love. I actually just recently went through a creative drought and was quite unhappy with the content that I was creating, it wasn't until I hiked up Saint Arnaud in the snow that I found my niche again. For me, nature is enough to be inspired creatively, the same goes for any other style of photography or art. If you're doing what you're passionate about, sometimes you'll find that creativity will come without effort for months on end. And at points you have to go look for it, rest assured if you seek you will find it.
Last but not least, is there something you wish every photographer knew?
I think the biggest thing for me is story telling, people want to feel something when they see a photo. You know that old cliche "a picture can paint a thousand words", well it really is true. One of the things I love about taking photos is that it can be interpreted by the viewer an infinite amount of different ways. I personally love looking back on a photo I've taken and reliving the moment and the feelings associated with that image, and that's the goal behind every photo I take; to have the viewer feel something when they see it.