If the Hat Fits…

elegant like a fist (1)

Detail of Design by Jorge Fornes for Jeffery C. Johnson Photography, 2016

It’s been my experience that it takes many minds to throughly and effectively accomplish the goals of a creative project. Even if that project is from the mind of only one person. And although many projects are attributed to only one artist, their work would never have been realized without the hard work and talent of many other people.

I’ve always understood this and have welcomed collaboration on projects. Especially in regards to knowing what my particular talents are, and more importantly, what they aren’t.

The project that I’ve been working on, bit by bit, for months now is a photo book project in which I am taking the photos, as well as, writing short essays. And, while the photos and writings are impressions of what I’m taking in, I also want the project to extend to impressions of my work, and the subjects, of the project by a few other artists as well.These few impressions by other artists, which I am seeking out, may be written or graphic but are meant to enhance and extended the whole project.

The first outside piece for the project that’s been completed is a work by graphic artist Jorge Fornes. Mr. Fornes, who lives in lovely Vilanova, Spain, is an accomplished graphic artist that currently works with comic giant Marvel (working on Amazing X-Men and Doctor Strange: Prelude and many others) but took time out to work on this piece for me.

Jorge and I worked together to create a piece based on one of my essays in which I write that the Sears Tower is “Elegant…Like a Fist.” I think he did a great job and I’m very pleased with his interpretation of my ideas – I look forward to making this exclusive artwork available as a t-shirt and soon a small poster.

While the making of my photo book is still underway – I hope that this art work will get the ball rolling to get my project out there and promote my work and that of Jorge Fornes.

Keep your eyes peeled for more info!

Gliding Feet on a Crowded Dance Floor


Chase Tower (1969) by C.F. Murphy & Assoc., Chicago

“…in a city that is filled with buildings that brood, sneer, and bemuse, Chase Tower manages to strike a chord that is lively and lovely while being firm and friendly.”

-fragment from my book project ‘Muscle & Finesse’…
writing and photo copyright Jeffery C. Johnson, 2016

A Grasp at the Soaring Sky



Rendering of the Miglin-Beitler Skyneedle in the Chicago Skyline, 1988

“Jeff, it was an amazing adventure…” – J. Paul Beitler

A couple of weeks ago I had the the surprising opportunity and the great pleasure to sit down with renown Chicago real estate developer J. Paul Beitler to get the story behind his proposal in the late-80’s to build the tallest building in the world.

At 1,999 feet and 125 floors, with a design by architect Cesar Pelli, the Miglin-Beitler Skyneedle, developed by J. Paul Beitler and the late Lee Miglin, would have been a beautiful addition to the Chicago skyline and still the 3rd tallest building in the world today. The Skyneedle, the first to be realistically proposed at nearly 2,000 feet and an engineering marvel of experimentation and firsts, would go on to inspire and influence Cesar Pelli’s Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which would reign as the world’s tallest building from 1998-2004.

What’s it like to seriously attempt to build the tallest building in the world?

This is what I wondered, and this is why I contacted Mr. Beitler, and after about two hours of breakfast at a lovely Michigan Ave. restaurant, I came away with an understanding of the history and an appreciation of the man.

What started as an interest in one of Chicago’s unbuilt skyscrapers and the desire and ability to the reach the top of the world… is slowly moving in to new and unknown places.

I’m not yet sure how, where, or when this exclusive interview will emerge for it’s become more than I expected but keep an eye on this spot as to where it might go next.


Mine’s Bigger than Yours…


“And while it’s no longer the tallest building in the world, the Sears Tower remains the only skyscraper on earth that is shamelessly self-confident, ruggedly handsome, and goddamned tough.”

– fragment from my book project ‘Muscle & Finesse’…
writing and photo copyright Jeffery C. Johnson, 2016


Sex Sells

carbidePicMonkey Collage

“Without promotion, something terrible happens…Nothing.”- P.T. Barnum

While I’ve never been one to shy away from self-promotion (no, it won’t make you go blind…although, I do need glasses) it is difficult when you attempt to share a statement of purpose that fits in to a slogan that you like. It’s even more difficult to get others to embrace a new slogan of purpose as it relates to what you’re trying to accomplish.

Nevertheless, I’ve recently shaped a statement of my work in to something that I want to hang my hat on…chasing the rhythms of a city, Chicago in particular, has always been my passion and my goal. Nothing is as artistically satisfying as attempting to define a city in a viewfinder using hundredths of a second.

I’ve learned (no, I never seem to learn anything “early on”) that if you don’t promote yourself no one will. For, there’s a reason that you’re doing what you’re doing so why not push it, sell it, sling it, move it and pet it in to the ever-so-lucious hair of your audience/viewer.   and no one is better at fashioning your message, your brand (oh-so market-minded) than yourself. Don’t be full or yourself but be confident, aware, and keep a sense of humor.

Don’t worry, don’t fear -while I choose (at the moment) to remain rather subtle with my self-promotion- all the world is yelling, jumping, flashing, and sucking each other so it shouldn’t be too hard to get noticed if you REALLY want to make a big splash -just do something mediocre and be brash with a dash of fool.

Hmmmm, maybe I’m old fashioned – I like to have work that backs up my mouth.

And, in the end, I like to promote in an understated way (can “branding” be understated?) while making an impression. I strive with my photography to create something classic and, while it might never happen, I’m not afraid to declare my intentions and my attempts to engender your attention.


p/s I’d like to also promote the work of  Dani Romero  who was kind enough to bring to life my slogan with the Chicago skyline. She did a great job… and while she has many things that she is confident and competent  in doing, I have no doubt that she can do this, that, and anything that you can throw at her…just remember to pay her handsomely for working outside her zone. Seriously, contact and commission her.











Ways and Means

Jeffery C. Johnson Photograph Books

You can browse a small selection of my self-published books (E & Tree) by clicking the link above.

Once there, you will find a couple of early photo books that I assembled (One a Chicago portfolio – the other a chronicling of the closing night at a Chicago-area restaurant in business for a half-century) as well as a book about the work of my grandfather Elmer C. Johnson (a Chicago photojournalist from the 1930’s-1960’s) and a short (true) story that my father Denny C. Johnson wrote concerning his interview with the man that escaped Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment.

An eclectic collection thus far and it is sure to expand in the coming year.

Have a look and if you can please purchase something (for shelf or screen) and enjoy!



Robin House, Chicago, 2014 photo by Jeffery C. Johnson  All Rights Reserved, 2016

Snapshot- Robie House, Chicago, 2014
photo by Jeffery C. Johnson
All Rights Reserved, 2016

This is a tiny morsel from my current and long-term project concerning Chicago architecture and a bit more…

“The Robie House crackles with a fury and attitude that is all Frank Lloyd Wright; cocky, brash, stylish and conspicuous. The building glides, seamlessly, across the fat, flat, slice of Midwest prairie that inspired its design.”

While working on my current photographic / writing project I’ve come to accept the fact that writing anything is a brutal affair…hand to hand combat…It’s always difficult and, at times, filled with a fleeting joy that can quickly dissipate after a re-reading.

Why do it? Well, in my case, I want my ideas and thoughts to accompany my images…and I can’t yet afford to hire someone else to shoulder the burden up the side of the frigid mountain.

There are moments of inspiration, moments of clarity, and purpose…of course they arrive after staring at a blank screen for an hour and then deciding to do the dishes…then, after running back to the screen, you’re left with a patchwork of assembled pieces that only hint at the brilliance you had while standing at the kitchen sink.

But, I’m sure it’s been this way for many a writer before me and despite all of the ups and downs and run-on sentences, I will continue on…because I framed the images in the project and I want to shape the words that accompany them…Thanks for looking and more to come!

  • Jeffery C. Johnson

photo and text- copyright Jeffery C. Johnson, 2016 All Rights Reserved