MaryLouJohnsonPhotography.com: News


Magical Moments with Mary Lou ~ An Interview by Liz Cantarine

The Cross and the Rainbow
The Cross and the Rainbow

Breezy curtains in a Mexico City hotel room part to reveal a rainbow in the distance. An arched terrace frames an ever changing seascape. And a babe is gently cradled in his parents’ loving arms. These are “magical moments” sought out by Longboat Key photographer Mary Lou Johnson, and she finds them in everyday life.

Mary Lou spent a lifetime journeying to this place in time. A teacher, she is ever learning. A counselor, she wisely heeded own advice and reinvented herself at a time when others throttle down to an easier pace. A relative newcomer to the professional side of photography, this Tampa native’s passion for the art form supersedes any years lost coming late to the field.

Mary Lou’s infectious zeal for her art form is evident during a visit to her show at the Ringling Longboat Key Center for the Arts Gallery. Each print claims a back story that Mary Lou is eager to share as she escorts the visitor from piece to piece, pausing to relate the tale of the image on the canvas before them. Her dark eyes dance with wonder as she describes the morning she shot the three fishermen in silhouette, from afar, so as not to disturb their quiet pastime. She named the photograph “Morning Ritual.” When later it became an award winner, she sought the names of the trio through an ad in the local paper. The story continues with the ad leading her to the three men in the photograph. They have fished on this dock every Thursday morning for years.


In Mom and Dad's Hands
In Mom and Dad's Hands
It was, indeed, their ritual. Mary Lou bestowed each of them with a copy of "Morning Ritual." For her, it was the least she could do for a moment in time they shared, a moment in time that was meant to be.

The tour continues and Mary Lou streams the stories of her works, excitedly, as if surprised by her good fortune to have seized these magical moments and translated them to art. Indeed, mounted on canvas, they have the appearance of oil paintings to such a degree that show patrons often ask her about her painting technique.

Her shooting technique has developed through formal study and trade association memberships throughout the past six years, following a 20-year career as a marriage and family counselor, and before that as a high school and college teacher. A photography “point-and-shoot” avocation turned professional when after transitioning to serious camera gear she began receiving requests to purchase her works.

Helped along by living in a photogenic paradise, Mary Lou has an artist’s eye for light and composition. The combination produces salable art that is not only pleasing to the eye, but provocative. Viewers linger at her pieces, studying the diminishing lines, following the ess curves and peering into the shadows.


"Morning Ritual"
"Morning Ritual"
Explore her eclectic work showcased at maryloujohnsonphotography.com. You will recognize local scenics, and far-off places where she has captured iconic images of Italy, Mexico, Spain, the Greek Islands, the Caribbean and the American West. Each is another magical moment in the life of Mary Lou Johnson, professional photographer.