Johanna Siegmann

Johanna Siegmann (http://www.johannasiegmann.com/) is a multi-creative person, with an eclectic background in theater (as a director, actress, singer, writer, producer), painting, jewelry design and published author (“The Tao of Tango”). These multiple avenues for creativity have given her solid experience in the creative process, and an appreciation for the work required behind each. Most importantly, she has learned to work with, and for, and wide range of personalities, which has resulted in extensive communication skills that have greatly helped her in her latest career: photography.
 
Marrying her past artistic experiences with a camera has been a natural, satisfying, and increasingly successful venture.
 
“I was given my first Kodak Instamatic at 10 years old. I remember being very specific about the images I chose, because film was expensive, and I had to shoot with purpose. I made the frame count. I still do.”
 
This statement sums up the artistic sensibility with which Johanna approaches her photographic challenges. Johanna intensely studies her subjects/objects, and sets her own scene, deliberately and carefully, like a director sets the stage for a theatrical presentation. She creates the framework for the frame, and then allows space for “creative magic” to happen.
 
Johanna knows the value of collaboration and listens carefully to communications from her clients, both spoken and unspoken. Her experience as a director honed her ability to “read” people and clearly communicate her vision. She is keenly attuned to engage the physical space, and maximize the technical needs of the situation. She prepares meticulously for each session, but also knows when flexibility must be employed to gain the transformation she seeks. Her advanced knowledge of theater improvisation helps her quickly integrate new information, and embrace changes to her advantage. The end result is a collaborative, cohesive, and often daring image.
 
Her knowledge gained in theater is also noticeable in her highly specialized sense of art direction: lighting, wardrobe, styling, color, visual illusion, and movement. The color changes, texture, and movement in her images is constant, taking the viewer on a tour of her photographs, corner to corner, while the “story” unfolds.
 
Johanna’s works have gained public notoriety. The images she created as The Artist in Residence for the Mojave National Preserve for 2012, were particularly stirring in their capture of the forces of nature upon Man’s remnants of times past. The show was named “ClaimReClaim” and offered images of the desert, illustrating the effects weather and time, highlighting textures, and lighting play. The collection was inspired by the cycle: nature being claimed by Man, Man abandoning his claims, and how nature reclaimed the items or space Man used. Her works were displayed at the Kelso Depot Gallery, and received gracious reviews from colleagues and visitors to the park.
 
Shortly after her opening at Kelso, Johanna was awarded a one-woman show in Mexico City which opened to great critical acclaim, and featured a variety of her favorite images from various projects covering portraiture, landscape, and architectural images. The show was underwritten by Hewlitt Packard.
 
In addition to both group and solo exhibits in 2012, Johanna produced a number of celebrity photo editorials, including actress Dee Wallace (“E.T.” fame) for “Life Over 50” magazine, and actress Renee Victor (“Weeds”) for “ArtNStyle” magazine. Johanna’s evolved sense of “play” mixed with drama, yielded some iconic, artful and entertaining images for the publications.
 
In 2013 she entered CBRE’s Urban Photographer of the Year (UPOTY) contest, and took first place in the America’s region, from over 17,000 entries, with the winners receiving worldwide coverage, and a beautiful book of contestant’s photographs. She again entered the following year, and achieved a first in the history of the contest: two images selected as finalists for their “hourly” section of the contest, from over 21,000 submissions. These images also received worldwide coverage in magazines and art publications, as well as a printed book.
 
Johanna has concentrated on portraiture and photo essays for magazines and other publications, but also provides high quality architectural photography for numerous brokerage firms, including Cushman & Wakefield; Colliers International; CB Richard Ellis, and commissioned by Development One to shoot a building they designed and built at Edwards Air Force Base. She is currently working on a book of her passion project: conceptual portraits of notable people with their pets.
 
Johanna is dedicated to exploring new techniques, and experimenting with innovative story-telling ideas through her imagery, and is also uses her photographic gifts for selective charity work.

Johanna Siegmann Portfolio

Julia Dean Interviews Johanna Siegmann

LACP Founder and Executive Director Julia Dean asks Johanna Siegmann ten questions about her background, career in and beliefs about photography

Julia Dean: What kind of photographer are you?

Johanna Siegmann: ? Instinctual, collaborative. The opposite of a technical shooter. I like to tinker until it all comes together.

JD: How long have you been shooting?

JS: ? I’ve owned a camera since I was 10, but didn’t start shooting purposefully until 2008. I decided to go “professional” in 2010.

JD: Where did you get your training?

JS: I’ve had very little “formal” training. I took one studio lighting course at your school, when it was in Venice, CA, and have taken a processing/concept workshop with Brooke Shaden. But I’ve been a member of DPC (Digital Photography Challenge) since 2008, where I learned almost everything I know and use on a daily basis. I’m now an moderator on that site.

JD: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?

JS: When taking a photo for one of the DPC photo challenges. I’d already been on it for a couple of years, and the challenge was to recreate a famous photograph. I knew instantly which image I wanted to recreate, and it was Les Violons d’Ingres, by Ray Man. It was a world of firsts for me: first studio shoot, first shoot using lights, first time shooting a nude. I was fortunate to have a photographer friend with all the equipment who agreed to help me, and a friend who agreed to pose. During the shoot, as I was working with my friend to get the lights to look how I saw them in my head, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I ended up being a finalist in that challenge.

JD: Did you ever come close to giving up?

JS: Not yet. I’ve certainly been discouraged, and I’ve taken a couple of personal breaks for personal reasons, but all it takes is me seeing something unique, beautiful, engaging, to want to run to my camera. I have so many project ideas that giving up is not an option at this time.

JD: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?

JS: Is it a sacrifice when it allows you to do what you love? But I guess taking a serious financial hit IS tough. And giving up some weekends and evenings because they’re the only time your client has, could also be called a “sacrifice”.

JD: What have you gained by being a photographer?

JS: Connecting the dots. I’ve always wondered about my strange collection of past careers, with everything seemingly disjointed. With photography, it all makes sense now. From my days in advertising, the importance of a concept; from theater: motivation, style, lighting, a sense of importance and a way of motivating, and communicating with, a wide range of individuals; from jewelry: patience, persistence, attention to small details. And so on for all my employments.

JD: What classes do you teach at LACP?

JS: “Working with Models.”

JD: What do you love most about teaching?

JS: The “AHA” moment. It tells me that the student has absorbed something previously not understood. It’s motivating, and also a bit humbling. That look is everything. I also love to hear different viewpoints, ideas, and get a peak into other people’s thought processes.

JD: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?

JS: That’s a tough one. I guess I’d say that everyone’s journey is different. And everyone measures success in a different way. But most importantly, never sacrifice your personal vision for anything; if someone’s advice doesn’t ring true for YOU – even if it’s from the most famous photographer ever – listen to your gut and your heart. It’s never wrong. There is no wrong way for you to follow YOUR dream.