After the birth of their second child, Johnson once again picked up the camera to provide a way for his wife Jodi to stay home with the kids. The rest is history. In 2004 he licensed the business and expanded into portraits, adding a studio in the basement of their home. About a year later, Johnson purchased a studio in Grandville and made photography his full-time profession.
For Johnson, photography has always been about people. “When I get asked ‘What do you like to photograph the most?’, I reply ‘people.’” Johnson said. “We do some product and new home photos, but I prefer to photograph people.”
Johnson realizes the importance of capturing moments in time that will never come again – whether it’s a one-time event, senior photography, or a newborn. “Often when the older generation comes in, no one says so, but we all know it’s an important photograph,” Johnson said. A couple months ago an elderly lady came into the studio all dressed up. “She said, ‘We need to make this look good. It’s my death photograph!’” Johnson recalled. “She sat with us as we edited the photo. We took extra time and care with her. We all knew it was significant.”
Johnson values the opportunity to capture those significant moments for people to treasure no matter what happens in their future. “We’ve had families come in after a cancer diagnosis and they want to mark the moment before treatment starts. It’s an honor to photograph them at that moment. It’s emotional for everyone but really important,” Johnson said.
Johnson believes that operating a business in a way that serves others in a Christ-like manner is beneficial to the community. “When clients come in, I want them to feel God’s love even when I can’t say it. I treat them with respect and honor. If they ask why, I tell them they are part of God’s creation and are His child,” Johnson said.
Over the years, Johnson has discovered that often the client who needs his faith the most is the high school senior girl. “They come in dealing with the daily pressure to look right and there is tons of pressure for these photos to be the best possible. My hope is that they leave feeling enriched and good about who they are. If they could hear from God instead of the culture they would feel beautiful. I am most engaged with my faith with these clients.”
The business has grown and changed considerably over the years. Johnson has witnessed the progress from slides to digital and a shift from formal styles to a more casual style of photography. The business has also grown from Johnson and his wife, Jodi, to include a staff of more than 10. In addition to photography, they have added video services, two photo booths for events, and hair and makeup services. This past June, Johnson also purchased Modern Photographics in Lowell.
Johnson and his employees are active in their communities. In Grandville, the studio has donated photo sessions for school auctions and photographed city events such as the veterans picnic last summer. In Lowell, Modern Photographics will continue its involvement with the Pink Arrow Project – a community wide cancer fundraising and awareness effort culminating with a high school football game. Modern donates photography featuring cancer survivors and photographs the Pink Arrow events.
Johnson urges people to not wait to get their photos taken. “We say we’ll wait until we’ve lost 15 pounds or until our kids have another child. We encourage people to make it a priority once every 3 years, and once a year for children. It’s not about photographing a perfect family, but capturing the family as it is today, to remember this place in life.” Going forward, Johnson and his team will continue to make people their focus and let them know how valuable they are.
Name: Dan Johnson
Family: Jodi, married 18 years; 4 kids aged 14 to 7 ½ (3 boys and a girl).
Company: Dan Johnson Photography and Modern Photographics
Locations: Dan Johnson Photography, 4187 Chicago Drive SW Suite 4, Grandville, MI 49418
Modern Photographics, 216 W Main St #4, Lowell, MI 49331
Web: www.danjohnsonphotography.com and www.modernphotographics.com
Phone: Grandville, 616-261-2949; Lowell, 616-897-5606
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