Posted on Mar 17, 2018
Posted in Creative, Teens

I’m always excited and eager to do creative shoots to continuously refine my technical and artistic skills. I’m blessed to have access to some amazing young people who are always eager to be in front of my camera.

This time I wanted to do a nighttime shoot in the bustling Uptown Charlotte area.

Surprisingly or not, this was my first time doing a true nighttime shoot. Part of the signature look in portraits is my subject backlit by the fading sunlight, like in this image:

Ahjaia Tisdale Prom Portraits in Pineville NC park












The sun is my friend and my partner in creating amazing images. I wanted to push myself and challenge my normal shooting style by taking away the sun and relying on the nighttime lights of Uptown Charlotte to light my background.

To even further challenge my shooting skills I employed my set of LED light panels. Yes, I’m abandoned my comfortable and ever useful strobes for a continuous light source to light up the night during this shoot.

I rounded up a handful of past clients who always come through with fierce looks and style and we met in Uptown an hour or so after sunset. The night weather was perfect – being neither too warm or too cold – so we set out on foot to capture images up and down the main corridor of Uptown Charlotte: South Tryon Street.

My stylish young ladies slayed as always and created some fun and fantastic images. Working at night with my continuous LED lights was different but no less fun and allowed me to shoot faster with no lag between shots. The lighting rig was super light and portable and we just had a great time moving from place to place capturing amazing images.

Interested in doing a Creative Shoot with Derek Johnson Photography?

My current and recurring clients receive special privileges and are always invited to participate in creative shoots. If you’re interested in having you own custom portrait experience and possibly being invited to participate in future creative shots, Contact Me and let’s talk about a Portrait Session!


Uptown Charlotte Nighttime Shoot

Uptown Charlotte Nighttime Shoot with Teen Models




Posted on Aug 26, 2015
Posted in Family, Products

I’m so excited about canvas gallery wraps!  I’ve been offering them for a while and I alway enjoy receiving them in, prepping them for delivering and then watching my client’s eyes light up from joy and surprised at their beautiful portraits.

“So why canvas gallery wraps and WHY SO BIG??” Past experiences with retail portrait studios have conditioned most of use to consider an 8×10 portrait a sizable print – nice photo paper, glossy finish and ready to slip into a simple frame to place on a coffee table. 8×10 portraits are staple product and excellent for viewing an image held in your hand. Most of us enjoy the decor in our house from a distance of 10-20 feet as we move around the living spaces. Fireplace mantles, stairway walls and those large spaces above our couches are typical areas where we add decorative elements that make us smile, that make our house guest stop and admire. These are the areas where we can display beautiful imagery of our families.

“OK, that makes sense but why more than one canvas in one place?” The beauty of a wall grouping is that it shows the various family combinations and the love between different people within the family. A family can relive a humorous moment during the portrait session in a multiple canvas grouping look fondly at the entire family, kids and the parents with the kids in once heartfelt glance.

So enough talking about canvas wrap, here are a few of my favorite canvas gallery wrap wall groupings. Maybe these examples with start to highlight areas in your own home that would make a great display area for a wall grouping of your own.

Quads: The Big T – Arranged and named after the famous University of Tennessee Big T band formation. Besides representing my alma mater, this is a beautiful wall grouping that allows for your favorite portrait and landscape portraits to be displayed on a large wall in a living area or hallway.

Austin Family Canvas Gallery Wrap Wall Grouping  - Quads: The Big T

Austin Family Canvas Gallery Wrap Wall Grouping – Quads: The Big T

The Mantle Mate – This grouping is perfect over a large fireplace mantle. This large quad grouping mixes square portraits and landscape portrait for a symmetrical finish. The great thing about groupings is the variety that can be had from squares, portrait and landscape images. This could totally be configured in another unique and striking way. That’s why I love hanging canvas wall grouping with Command strips.  Super quick and super clean and totally rearrangeable!

Soler Family Canvas Gallery Wrap Wall Grouping - 2 Square Portraits and 2 Landscape Portraits

Soler Family Canvas Gallery Wrap Wall Grouping – 2 Square Portraits and 2 Landscape Portraits


The Triplets – This is one of my favorites! A spacious center portrait flanked by two tall vertical images really fills in a large open wall in a family area. You’ll be able to enjoy your family every day you walk through and spend time in the family room with this big, beautiful arrangement.

Addison Family Canvas Gallery Wrap Wall Grouping - Triplets arrangement over a big couch in the living area

Addison Family Canvas Gallery Wrap Wall Grouping – Triplets arrangement over a big couch in the living area

Hopefully you’ve been motivated to adorn your own walls with some beautiful artwork of your family. Give me a CALL so we can talk more about and schedule a portrait session.


See you soon!



Posted on Jun 18, 2015
Posted in Seniors

So the other week I started a 2-part series addressing some of the most commonly asked questions about having your senior portrait made. Summer is the PERFECT time to have your senior portraits made, so class of 2016 seniors check out this 2nd series of questions and answers about how to have a killer senior portrait experience.

If you missed Part 1, Click HERE to read it.


Can I include other people in my senior portrait session, like my boyfriend or sister?

Absolutely! We have different sessions that allow for more or less time. Choose a session package that allows enough time to include friends, pets or anyone else that is special to you.

Marie and Quinn Couples Senior Portrait Session in Charlotte, NC

What comes with your packages?

All Senior Portrait Session Packages include everything you need to create amazing images and have memories for years to come.  We include in all of our packages:  

  • Professional makeup and hair application (or shave/style for guys),
  • 3 digital images for social media sharing and a digital yearbook photo for publication.
  • A generous print credit to get you started in creating your own custom portrait package.
  • Some packages even include beautiful custom photo album or graduation invitations

Kendra Smith Album Cover Photo Shoot Class of 2015


If it rains, do you have a studio to shoot at?

I sure do! You’d be amazed at how I can convert my home space into a cutting edge portrait studio. I’ve had some outdoor session rained out and we improvised and took it indoors to create amazing studio images.  You may also want a variety of studio and on location images. We can absolutely accommodate your creative vision for your senior portraits.


I’m shy. Won’t it be awkward having my family stare at me while the shoot is going on?

My job is to help make you feel like a superstar, so I’m pretty good at helping my clients feel absolutely comfortable during your session.  Don’t worry, I normally put everyone to work – holding a reflector, fixing a stray hair – so they’ll all be too busy to stand around staring at you! LOL! And look at your family as your cheering section. They’ll be there to encourage you and cheer you on as you make some amazing images. If you’re really concerned about your family making you feel awkward, I’ll have a little pep talk with everyone before the session.

Kuria Carr Senior Portraits in Rock Hill, SC

How will I know how to pose?

Don’t worry about a thing! I spend a lot of time studying to learn the most creative and natural poses to make you feel and look great. Also, we’ll take time to meet and talk about you and your likes so I can start to learn a little bit about your personality and who you are as a person. That will help me select the poses that will make you look great. And I’m always open to my senior giving me a great pose that they thought about. It’s a partnership with a common goal – EPIC senior portraits!

Monet Mackey Model Shoot

What other location options do you suggest?


Charlotte and surrounding areas are full of amazing locations for portrait sessions. I spend a lot of time on the lookout for locations that will compliment different personalities and clothing options. We’ll talk about your personality, your attire and your total look and then decide on a location that will compliment and enhance your final look. I did a blog post some months ago highlighting some of my most favorite locations in the area. Check out that post HERE.

Senior Portrait Session



So now that you’ve got some of your questions answered, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NOW? Give me a call and let’s talk about senior portraits and schedule a time to meet in person.

You may not have a senior in the house but you may know someone who does. Forward this blog post to them and maybe they’ll become a happy client of mine. And guess what? You get rewarded for referring clients to me. Learn all about my DFP Referral Program HERE.

Until next week!


Posted on Jun 04, 2015
Posted in Seniors

Senior Portraits with DJP are designed to an unforgettable experience for each one of my clients. I’ve collected some of the most commonly asked questions and provided detail answers. Here are a handful of questions and I’ll do a few more FAQ blog posts over the next few weeks.


This is my first time having professional photos taken. What should I expect?

You should expect a very custom experience that will make you feel like a rock star. I’m proud to say that I spend a lot of time with each of my senior portrait clients to give them not only amazing images and products, but an experience that you’ll be talking about all year long and beyond.

Octavia Sturdivant Senior portrait session

I don’t want the same photos as everyone else. Can you make mine original?

Absolutely! Unfortunately most seniors and their parents just settle for the school’s contract photographer. He or she is great at what they do but they’re not set up to deliver a custom and creative portrait experience for you. This is where your professional photographer rocks! We’re going to sit down before I ever take one photo and talk about YOU! I want to know what you do for fun, your favorite color, your style of dress and more. We’ll design a unique portrait session that allows you to be your best!

Dasia Toole senior portrait session in Uptown Charlotte

I really like the country, rural look, but I’m not sure where to go for the location. Can you help plan out the locations based on the type of look I want?

I sure can! When we talk and start to plan your portrait session I can’t wait to hear your personal vision for your portrait session. We’ll talk about your vision and discuss not only location but also your attire and how it all ties together to create the final look you want. Don’t worry at all about not knowing any good locations that fit your vision. As I’m driving around town I’m always on the lookout for cool locations that fit different styles and looks. There are some beautiful rural areas in the the cities for sessions!

Senior portrait session in rural location

When is the best time of year to schedule my session?

The summer of your rising senior year is the prime season for senior portraits! So Class of 2016 students, the time is NOW! The weather is amazing during this time of year and there are so many creative options for  your session. If you’re not able to have your senior portraits during the summer months, don’t worry! I’ve created portraits for my past seniors in the Spring of their senior year, but by far the summer months are best!
Mandy Wilkerson senior portrait session on Winthrop University campus

How do I go about securing my session?

Just give me a call and we can talk a bit so I can learn more about you and what you’re looking for in your senior portraits. I’ll want to talk to your mom next so she’s on board and excite about your senior portraits. We’ll meet face to face so we can get to know each other and we can start planning your session. If everything looks great and you and your mom and ready to book a session, we’ll take care of a little business and then you’re all set. We’ll start getting ready for your epic portrait session!

Aaliyah McCall Senior Portrait Session

I’m not really good about applying makeup but I want to look glam for my session. Can you help me out with that?

Yes! My Beauty Team is AMAZING!! These ladies help take your natural beauty to the next level with expert hair and makeup styling. My Beauty Team members have over 25 years of combined professional hair and beauty experience and they are my right hand ladies to help make your senior portraits amazing. The best part is their services are INCLUDED in all of my senior portrait sessions. No extra fees for beauty and makeup. You choose a package and be comforted in knowing that you’ll have one of my talented ladies on set working for you. And don’t worry fellas, we haven’t forgotten about you. Guys can enjoy the same “prep” service as well with a shave and style included with every senior portrait package.

Kourtney Owens Senior Portrait session in Charlotte, NC


Be on the look out for Part 2 of this series next week where I’ll be answering more Frequently Asked Questions about a senior portrait experience with Derek Johnson Photography. You may not have a senior in the house but you may know someone who does. Forward this blog post to them and maybe they’ll become a happy client of mine. And guess what? You get rewarded for referring clients to me. Learn all about my DFP Referral Program HERE.

Here’s Part 2 of the FAQ

Until next week!


Posted on Apr 29, 2015
Posted in Creative

My birthday session with Erika was AMAZING!! Erika Hogan, owner of New Attitude Performing Arts Center is quickly becoming my favorite person to photograph! Now over the last two years we’ve had multiple opportunities to work together on different photographic projects. Now I had to opportunity to photograph Erika herself as part of her birthday present to herself – a Marilyn Monroe inspired portrait session.

We discussed the concept and tossed around ideas for attire. I had great vision for location, lighting and I thought we were all ready to go. Last minute location issues completely shut down my plans and I was scrambling for a Plan B. After taking a close look at her three outfits a grand idea hit me and Plan B was underway.

Check out the results below. Amazing makeup from one of my Beauty Team members, Kathy Robinson, amazing studio lighting and natural location and AMAZING subject rocking the look.


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Posted on Jul 24, 2014
Posted in Products

Have You Enjoyed Your Wall Portrait Today?

It’s summertime and this is a great time to be with family and to have that long-delayed family portrait you’ve been talking about for years.  Maybe you have a Class of 2015 senior and you’ve noticed that many seniors are having their senior portraits created RIGHT NOW. Whatever the reason, you may be shopping around for a portrait photographer. Besides deciding who you will trust with your loved ones’ memories, you’re also probably thinking about how you’ll enjoy your portraits once they’re complete. In this social media driven and digital age we live in you may be thinking, “I’ll just hire one of these photographers who will burn all my images on a disk.”  It seems easy enough. You and your family meet this person, take some photos and you get a DVD or USB drive in the mail a few weeks later.


read more

Posted on Apr 02, 2014
Posted in Creative

My “Conquer Everything” campaign is off to a great start with my second  basketball photo shoot.  The “Conquer Everything” campaign features young athletes in dynamic, edgy images of their respective sports. read more

Posted on Apr 01, 2014
Posted in Creative

I’m so excited about my first basketball photo shoot for my first ever annual creative campaign. This year’s campaign is “Conquer Everything” and it features young athletes in dynamic, edgy images of their respective sports. read more

Posted on Mar 27, 2014
Posted in Creative

I had the great opportunity to have an amazing corporate headshot portrait session with the lovely Kim Hale. Kim Hale is a long time client, work colleague and family friend. We’ve done many pet portraits session with her darling late dog Prince, husband Bob and even her good family friends Brian and Jennifer Parsley. read more

Posted on Mar 26, 2014
Posted in Family

I had the wonderful opportunity to have a family portrait session with my older brother Abe Johnson and the rest of the family. During this crazy winter of yo-yo weather patterns we planned our session on a particularly lovely day and headed out the Blythe Landing in Lake Norman, NC. read more