Do What You Love: Johnson Sarkissian


Today’s feature comes from Robert Johnson and Katherine Sarkissian. Together they make up the photography team of Johnson Sarkissian. They are photographic storytellers working with a variety of media from digital stills to video to motion picture film. Their aim is to tell their client’s story; whether it is high-end advertising, editorial, portraiture, or events. Read on!!

How did you get into fashion? Tell me how and when everything started.

We originally began our photography career as photojournalists – working as freelancers for the New York Daily News as well as other newspapers and magazines. After a few years of mostly street shooting, we went to film school in California (Brooks Institute of Photography) where we earned our BFA degrees. Upon graduating we began working in Hollywood on feature films and video production, and eventually we returned to NYC and began assisting established photographers – Annie Leibovitz and Neil Slavin amongst others. As we assisted more and more fashion photographers we began to realize just how much fun it is to photograph top-of-the-line clothing on top models!

When did you first know that you wanted to be in fashion?

We are first and foremost people photographers –we’ve always felt that the connection for us is about the person. Photographing beautiful people wearing great clothing is a bonus. We spent 12 years in Italy and really discovered fashion there – as well as great food and vino! We thought we were only going to be there for 6 months but we loved it so much we stayed 12 years!

If you weren’t in the fashion industry, what would you like to be doing?

We will always be visual artists. The camera is wonderful tool with which we tell our stories, and today with technology progressing at such an amazing clip, our careers are taking us on an amazing, exciting new adventure where things are possible that just a few short years ago we couldn’t have imagined!


Tell us about your fabulous services and what services do you offered?

We’ve recently returned to our roots and have begun shooting video along with our still photography work. It’s a wonderful way to really tell the story in depth, often in the subject’s own words. We’ve had the good fortune of late to work with some really talented artists – we’ve just completed a music video and are in production on a family documentary.

How would you describe your personal style?

Our personal style is about connecting with our subjects to bring out their personality; what is uniquely them. Our roots in photojournalism help us to keep it simple and to capture moments as they unfold before us. Above all, we try to keep the process fun for everyone involved.

Who is your favorite designer?

We love the Italian Designers. For us, the Italian sense of style is without compare whether it is shoes, handbags or clothing. The impeccable tailoring and luxury of the Italian brands is a pleasure to photograph — and to wear!


If you had a choice of all designers in the world, who would you prefer to work for? Why?

We’ve always loved photographing Dolce & Gabbana clothing. Its fun, edgy and sexy. Dsquared2 – both the Men’s and Women’s clothing – are chic, glamorous and sexy. We also love photographing Missoni because of the wonderful weaves of the fabrics. It’s fun to juxtapose the intricate patterns of the fabric with natural settings.

Are there any special projects you would like to work on?

We see ourselves more and more combining our still photography with video work, and moving into short films and documentaries.

Which magazines do you read? Which magazine is your favorite?

We’re both big readers, and not of just fashion magazines. We draw from wide sources of inspiration ranging from Popular Science to National Geographic to Italian Vogue. to W magazine.

What do you see on stores that you think is really great?

We love the new Apple Ipad – the possibilities it presents opens up a whole new world for digital artists such as ourselves. It’s potential is amazing – whether it is how we present our work or how it enables us to quickly access visual ideas while on location.


What motivates you?

Art motivate us. We go to museums and galleries as often as possible. People on the street motivate us – people-watching can be an amazing experience. Films motivate us – especially documentaries, and we love foreign films. And children motivate us. Their unbridled joy at discovery is a constant source of inspiration to us.

What’s next for you?

More image-making in a variety of media.

What do you do in your down time?

Photograph people!

Their websites, and feature their still photography work. Their motion media will soon be added to their websites.

Big thanks to Melissa Hall for taking the time to talk to Unik Apparel Style!

Images by Johnson Sarkissian

Author: Rose Wheeler

Hey, I'm Rose! I work with words on a daily basis as a content manager and writer. When I'm not working with my awesome clients, I enjoy cooking, yoga, styling, blogging and curling up with a good book.

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