Joe and Judy Johnston have spent years quietly building their reputation for beautiful, creative portraits and are happy that son Andrew decided to join them.
Smile! Johnston Portrait Studios
Is Ready to Capture Your Memories
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
Tucked away on the northwest corner of 120st and West Center Road in the Bel Air Plaza, sits a business filled with warmth, creativity, and a passion for doing great work.
It’s Johnston Portrait Studios – and in addition to fantastic family photos, it’s been a vital part of the Omaha business community for over 30 years.
Joseph Johnston, a Cathedral High School alumnus and UNO graduate, started the family-owned and operated studio with his wife Judy in 1983. In addition to the Bel Air Plaza location, they operate an Old Market studio on an appointment-only basis.
“Both Judy and I were born and raised in Omaha, have always lived here, raised our family here and know the community well,” Joe Johnston said. “Omaha is a great place to live.”
It wasn’t like Joe planned to own and operate a photo studio.
“It came about the way most photographers get into the career,” he said. “I found it indirectly while pursuing my degree.”
He took classes at UNO while earning his degree in biology. Then he took a few more courses at Metropolitan Community College. The next step was taking photos at weddings and other special occasions.
“You get better at it,” Johnston explained. “You learn your craft at a different level.”
As the learning continued, Johnston Portrait Studios served for a time as the official photographers of the Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Ball, and for the Omaha Symphony’s Debutante Ball. That work helped provide access and credibility to a number of excellent clients.
As the photography business was building, Judy worked as a UPS driver, providing stability to the family’s finances.
Today, the studio’s specialty is portrait photography.
“That would include portrait needs throughout the entire family life cycle: wedding coverage, engagement portraits, maternity/infant portraits, portraits for young growing families, high school senior portraits, large extended family groups, business/ professional portraits and even pets portraits.”
Those in the legal profession know the Johnston Portrait Studios name well. “We have many, many friends and clients who are attorneys or work in law-related fields,” Johnston said. “And they have families.”
There are many options for families and firms that are looking to have portraits taken. But to Johnston, there are some aspects of his family business that make it stand out.
“It probably is mostly the attitude that Judy and have towards people,” Johnston said. “We make a pretty good team - if I may say so - and anyone who has met Judy, most certainly remembers her.”
A centerpiece of the Johnston Portrait Studio approach centers on the practice of never trying to tie or limit the creative process to any single style or look “We would prefer to let our client’s preferences, lifestyle and ideas guide us,” Johnston said. “That makes for a more authentic portrait.”
Making the client feel good during the session is another factor in separating Johnston Portrait Studios from the rest.
“Being one of the few remaining brick and mortar studios in town gives us the space to accommodate people comfortably,” he pointed out.
It’s no secret that photo technology has changed, and Johnston seems quite comfortable with those advances. Digital technology, he feels, has made possible a whole new set of opportunities.
“So many fantastic imaging possibilities are now at our fingertips,” he explained. “Creative doors are opening all the time.”
The door also has been opened for the future, with the Johnston family becoming involved. One could hardly expect anything else.
“We are now a two-generation studio,” Johnston said. “Our oldest son Andrew joined us three years ago, and we are quite proud of the work he is doing.”
Andrew, he explained, has re-expanded Johnston Photography wedding coverage. The Johnston’s daughter, Anna, works with him and together they “make a great team.”
Finding Johnston Portrait Studios is not difficult. With two locations being only one of the reasons. Simply Google “Johnston Portrait Studios” to find out more information, including stunning examples of their work offered on the website.
You will find the studio’s blog, a section for Family Holiday Portraits, 2014 Seniors, Portfolios, and Weddings among the offerings.
Still, the best promotion, Johnston said, come from a highly traditional source that has nothing to do with technology. “Our clientele expands primarily by word of mouth and we very much appreciate the referrals that come our way from existing clients,” Johnston said, while acknowledging, “A dynamic presence on social media and the web is mandatory.”
For the future, the strategy is simple and straightforward: “Continue to build on what we’ve done,” he explained. “Photographically, by working to keep our images fresh and relevant and at the same time not sacrifice the magic of the classic portrait. Expanding our destination wedding coverage options.”
You are talking about a man and a family who enjoy their work.
“This is very exciting.”
Contact them at 402-333-5105 or visit their website at www.JohnstonPortraitStudio.com for more information.