Photographer Josh Ethan Johnson's captivating characters

Date
18 August 2016

Josh Ethan Johnson is a New York-based artist who divides his time between street photography, music, design and animation. Faces is a series that allows Josh to indulge in his inquisitiveness. “I’m really nosey and like to talk with strangers” he explained, “I’ve been taking street photos since I was 18, I’m 36 now.” A combination of photography and film, Faces explores and documents captivating characters.

Josh sets about finding his subjects by, “Wandering the streets, shooting photos mostly. Sometimes people just start interacting with the camera, others I approach. I set up some personal rules for this project; anything goes, no pre-production, and to work quickly. That goes for both the film and editing process. It also goes for who I choose to film, if I get the opportunity to film someone, I just begin, I’ll figure out during the editing if it’s something interesting. Some stand out, others don’t.”

Because Faces has collected a wealth of interesting characters, Josh has since regularly been recommended subjects, “I’ve been connected with some great people and those episodes will turn out strong but I still don’t do any in depth pre-interviews to keep things fresh for me and the camera.”

A particularly memorable character for Josh was Freddy, “I was in the Bahamas and kept driving by this abandoned mansion on a hill. I finally got off the city bus one day to explore. Freddy was out front messing with some plastic thing and I asked if I could film him. He’s a man of very few words but indicated that he was okay with it. About 30 minutes into a tour of the structure, it struck me that I was in the middle of his museum. His art was everywhere, I turned out to be the first attendant. He laughed when I pointed that out.” Josh also attempts to stay in contact with each of his subjects, “I give everyone my cell phone or e-mail, and try to get their info as well. I get some amazing texts and calls with updates on their lives, but others never get back. I’m not sure why.”

Josh also has an additional street photography project, Endangered Species, “a study of the speed and impermanence of culture”, which has just been published as a book.

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Ira and his squirrels

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Freddy’s Museum

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Bill Cunningham in slow motion

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Chris Fox’s Pictures

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Shoshey’s Conch Salad

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, David at Coney Island

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Chinatown Fruit Vendor

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Fountain

Above

Josh Ethan Johnson: Faces, Brazen Angel

Share Article

About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.

lb@itsnicethat.com

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.