News from Carl Johnson

November 21, 2023: Winning Images in NANPA Showcase

I am excited to announce that my photo "Heading South," depicting a flock of sandhill cranes flying over Denali, was chosen as the First Runner Up in the Scapes category for the 2024 Showcase of the North America Nature Photography Association (NANPA). 

For this year's competition, 400 photographers submitted 3259 images in six categories, with 519 entries in the Scapes category. Among the judges in the category was George Lepp. 

Additionally, my image "Cycles," which depicts a salmon carcass in mudflats along Turnagain Arm, was selected as a Top 100 image and my image "Season Finale," featuring an aurora borealis over Portage Lake, was selected as a Top 250 image. All three of my images will be included in the publication "Expressions," which includes the Top 250 images from the competition. 

You can see the other category winners on the NANPA website and the PetaPixel website.

Heading South
A group of sandhill cranes pass by the Denali summit and lenticular clouds on their way south in autumn.

November 2, 2023: Partnering with TRCP

Partnering with TRCP

The Brooks Range is Alaska's largest mountain range. At 21% of the total landmass of the state, it also lies entirely above the Arctic Circle. It is also my absolute favorite part of the state. It is also under threat from a large road project that is supposed to provide access to a mining district. You can read some background on the project in a blog post of mine from 2020. 

I am pleased to be joining the efforts of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership to fight the development of this road. With an emphasis on the hunting and fishing values of the area, the TRCP seeks to attract more conservative individuals to support protection of the area. With existing groups emphasizing protection of wild spaces and preservation of a subsistence way of life, this organization fills a gap by bringing in more conservative organizations and individuals to the fight. I look forward to working with TRCP by providing images and video as well as bringing my policy and law experience in the region to messaging. 

June 19, 2023: Presentation to the Shenandoah Photographic Society

I was honored to be invited to present to the Shenandoah Photographic Society about my 2022 artist residency at Shendandoah National Park. The goal was to discuss my approach to photographing the park, to provide samples of the body of work I developed during the residency, and to share a bit about the artist-in-residence programs for National Park Service units. You can view the full presentation below. 

April 14, 2023: Recognized as Tour Operator of the Year

Recognized as Tour Operator of the Year

I am excited to announce that our tour company, Alaska Photo Treks, has been recognized by Visit Anchorage as Tour Operator of the Year for 2023 at the annual Seymour Awards banquet! The theme of the banquet was aurora borealis, and attendees were encouraged to dress up like the aurora or wear black tie dress. So, Michelle and I dressed up and wore colors of the aurora borealis. I was so excited and honored to receive this award, and will continue working hard to be a good member of the tourism community in Anchorage. 

January 11, 2023: Artist Residency Interview

During my artist residency in Shenandoah National Park, I was interviewed by the park's media team about how I explore nature and find inspiration as a photographer. Enjoy the video! 

December 16, 2022: Interview with the Norfolk Navy Flagship

Interview with the Norfolk Navy Flagship

What seems like a lifetime ago, I spent five months in the Tidewater area of Virginia attending the Operations Specialist "A" School at Fleet Combat Training Center Atlantic at Dam Neck. Thirty-five years later, I was back in Virginia for three weeks as the artist-in-residence for Shenandoah National Park. While there, I was interviewed by a Navy Journalist to explore how my collateral duty as a ship's photographer in the Navy led to my career as a nature photographer. Read the full interview here on The Flagship, the paper for the Norfolk Naval Base. 

November 21, 2022: Cover in Alaska Magazine

Cover in Alaska Magazine

I am excited to share my cover photo in the December/January issue of Alaska magazine, which also accompanies my photo essay inside the issue. The essay is entitled, "A Season of Solitude: My Love for Alaska's Winter."

The photo essay can be read online

August 4, 2022: Artist Grant Award

Artist Grant Award

I am excited to announce that I have been awarded a Career Opportunity Grant by the Alaska State Council on the Arts. I will use the grant funds to travel to Virginia for my artist residency with Shenandoah National Park in October. 

April 29, 2022: Properties Set Aside in Conservation

It has been my pleasure to help the Great Land Trust since 2008 with its mission to set aside pristine and important riparian habitat for conservation. My role has been to photograph properties - either those that are targeted for purchase for conservation, or those that have already been protected. I was pleased to see a recent announcement from Great Land Trust that a Susitna River property I photographed a couple of years ago has been purchased for conservation. Here is an article in the news about the purchase. 

Here is some other news about land along the Ekultna River that I photographed for the Great Land Trust. And some property that I photographed for the Great Land Trust last spring has now been purchased, adding 195 acres to the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge. 

April 7, 2022: Invited to Exhibit at Arctic Encounter Symposium

I was excited to be invited to exhibit as an artist for the Arctic Encounter Symposium in Anchorage, held April 7-8, 2022. It is the largest annual Arctic policy event in the United States. Confirmed speakers for the event ranged from politicians to dignitaries, Native youth to non-profit organizers, scientists to corporate executives. There are a lot of issues facing the Arctic, and this symposium addressed a lot of them: climate change, fisheries, mining, labor, Indigenous voices. In addition to the presentations and panels, there was also an exhibit hall for artists of various media - and that's where I got involved. 

March 5, 2022: Selection for National Park Artist Residency

I am excited to announce that I have been selected to serve as an artist-in-residence for Shenandoah National Park. I am one of five artists selected from 310 applicants for this year's residencies. My residency will be October 17-November 7.

The goal of my residency will be to highlight some of the lesser-known areas of the park. With 1.5 million annual visitors, Shenandoah, like many other parks, has areas that are being over-visited. So, I will be working with park staff to identify those areas and capture images that are useful to the park's mission. I will also be blogging during the residence about exploring the park and my creative process. So, keep an eye out for that coverage of the experience. This will be my first time to the park, and I am excited and honored to have this opportunity.

January 28, 2022: Interview with Alaska Magazine

Interview with Alaska Magazine

Late last summer I had a call from Alaska Magazine, and was interviewed about various thoughts I had on photography from ethics to my philosophy on how photography helps us connect with the world. The interview was published in the January issue of the magazine. Here is the link to the online version. 

June 2, 2021: Accepted as iLCP Fellow

I am excited to announce that I have been accepted as an Associate Fellow to the International League of Conservation Photographers! The organization works worldwide to preserve vital habitat and environments and highlight threats to cultures. From individual efforts to joint expeditions and exhibitions, these photographers work tirelessly to support conservation through ethical photography and filmmaking. The organization carries on a longstanding tradition of highlighting our fragile world through the photographic arts. I am honored to join the ranks of Art Wolfe, Michele Westmorland, Jim Brandenburg, Joel Sartore, Amy Gulick and many others as a fellow with the iLCP.

I first learned of the iLCP when I was the event photographer for the Eighth World Wilderness Congress when it was held in Anchorage in 2005. It was at that event that iLCP was officially launched. Due to the influence of Jim Brandenburg and others, I had long sought to use my photography more for conservation. This led to the publication of my first book, Where Water is Gold. But it took my becoming a full-time photographer to allow me the freedom to apply for acceptance into the iLCP. I look forward to working with the organization and with other conservation-minded photographers. 

April 26, 2021: Camera Club Presentation

Camera Club Presentation

I was pleased to be invited by the Color Country Camera Club of St. George, Utah, to give a presentation of my choice. Now, I absolutely love the Utah landscapes. The American Southwest is one of my favorite places to go to experience and photograph a completely different landscape. But, I thought I would give the club something they would not normally get to see, and that is the aurora borealis. So, for their meeting at 6:00 p.m., I presented "Nocturnal Obsession: Chasing and Photographing the Northern Lights." It's been one of the side benefits of the global COVID-19 pandemic to give presentations to remote groups that might not otherwise be able to pay for a guest speaker to travel and speak in person. Thanks again to the group for the invitation! 

April 23, 2021: Recognition in Nature's Best Photography International Awards

Recognition in Nature's Best Photography International Awards

I am excited to announce that my image "Solitary," of a lone tree set against the aurora borealis, has been recognized as Highly Honored in the "Polar Passion" category for the 2020 Nature's Best International Photography Awards. It will be published in the 2021 Fall/Winter Special Collectors’ Edition of Nature’s Best Photography magazine as a part of Nature's Best 25-year anniversary celebrations.

While Nature's Best Photography magazine hosts several annual competitions, its international photo awards competition is one of the most highly-respected and visually compelling nature photography competitions in the world.This is my third recognition in one of their competitions, the second in the international photo awards.

For the 2020 competition, Nature's Best received 30,000 submissions from photographers in 75 countries. From that, 2,000 images were selected for the semi-finalists. From those, a total of 117 photos were selected as finalists.

January 21, 2021: Feature by Artistic Fuel

Artistic Fuel is an online source for exploring artistry, creation, and inspiration. They cover culinary arts, fashion, film, music, photography, and virtual art. I was called out of the blue last year by a writer for the website, seeking to learn more about me, my story, and my inspiration as an artist. Read the interview and story here.

January 8, 2021: Inclusion in Annual Arts Roundup

Inclusion in Annual Arts Roundup

Last summer, I had a visit from Jean Bundy, the "Art Sleuth" for the Anchorage Press, at the gallery. She wrote about the experience visiting the gallery with her husband, who was there for a private instruction session, and my book Where Water is Gold. She decided to mention me again in her "Sleuth's Top 10 for 2020" arts roundup. Thanks, Jean! 

November 12, 2020: Flatirons Photo Club Presentation

Flatirons Photo Club Presentation

I was pleased to be invited by the Flatirons Photo Club in Boulder, Colorado to be a guest presenter and to judge in their monthly photo contest. One of the things that the COVID-19 pandemic has opened up is the opportunity to give these presentations remotely, opening up new audiences and new presenters. My presentation was on ow to chase and shoot the Aurora Borealis.

May 20, 2020: Wildlife Wednesdays Presentation

Wildlife Wednesdays Presentation

I was pleased to be the guest presenter for the Alaska Wildlife Alliance's regular "Wildlife Wednesdays" program. My subject was Being an Ethical Wildlife Photographer.

April 23, 2020: Helping Fight the Ambler Road

Helping Fight the Ambler Road

I am pleased to team up with The Wilderness Society to help fight the approval and construction of the Ambler Road, a boondoggle infrastructure project purportedly designed to provide access to mining deposits in the Northwest Arctic region of Alaska. It is fitting that The Wilderness Society is involved in this fight, not only because of its name, but its origins. One of the principal founders of the organization was Robert Marshall, who explored the central Brooks Range and wrote about his experiences there in Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range and Arctic Village: A 1930s Portrait of Wiseman, Alaska. Learn more about the Amber Road on The Wilderness Society's dedicated page for the project (where you will see my images prominent on the page) and through the Brooks Range Council. Learn about the environmental review (or lack thereof) on the Bureau of Land Management page about the project. I also have written a blog post providing some background and thoughts on the issue. 

April 21, 2020: Second Place in Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Photo Contest

I am pleased to announce that my photo Heading Out has been selected in this year's Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Alaska Commercial Fishing Photo Contest. The image was awarded Second Place in the Best Action category. I captured the image while visiting Naknek during early fieldwork for my book Where Water is Gold.

April 15, 2020: New Website!

Welcome to the my new website. For well over a decade, my website was a custom site built over the matrix provided by PhotoShelter. However, changes in recent years with the PhotoShelter system made integration first difficult, then impossible. The website templates offered by PhotoShelter to work within their system never really provided me what I was looking for in a website. After a long struggle with the PhotoShelter matrix, we decided to pursue a completely independent design. 

But where to start? Art Wolfe once told me that aside from working in his Japanese garden, one of the things he enjoys doing while relaxing at home was looking at the work of other photographers. One of the great ways to do that is via their websites. Over time, I saw that several of the photographers I respected, and some of whom I even knew personally, were all changing their website designs. The new designs were attractive, showcased their work well, and offered a lot of flexibility in design and function. I then noticed that these new websites all had a common theme - they were all designed by a company called Wide Range Galleries.  After mulling it over for a while, I decided to engage Wide Range in designing a new site. I am so pleased that I finally get a fully-integrated website that provides the functionality and ease of use for our website visitors to find what they need. We hope you enjoy the new look. Contact us to tell us what you think!

August 30, 2017: Meeting Les!

I was at the Fairbanks airport this afternoon waiting to pick up clients for my Brooks Range photo workshop when a passenger came through the security area who looked really familiar. Then I heard someone behind me call his name, and it was confirmed. It was none other than Survivorman - Les Stroud himself. After chatting with them for a little bit, I learned that he was there to meet up with a Nat Geo crew to go spend 10 days in the wilderness filming moose. I told him that I was heading up to the Brooks Range, and he really perked up and we discussed how great it would be to go to photograph Caribou at this time.

August 29, 2017: Conservation Award

I am very excited to announce that I have been named this year's recipient of the Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award for Excellence in Still Photography, Film or Video, presented by the Alaska Conservation Foundation. The award recognizes film, video, and still photography projects that "advance the protection of Alaska’s wilderness environment, further discussion of issues relating to habitat and stewardship of Alaska’s natural resources, and enhance public education relating to these areas." The recognition is for my work in photographing the Bristol Bay region to help in protecting it, and my book Where Water is Gold. I am very honored to receive this award and be in the company of such past recipients as Florian Schulz and Art Wolfe.

August 17, 2017: Coverage in Outdoor Photographer

Amy Gulick is a seasoned conservation photographer and founding member of the International League of Conservation Photographers. She also hosts a column in Outdoor Photographer magazine called "The Big Picture" where she highlights conservation work by different photographers. I am pleased and honored to be featured in the July 2017 issue of Outdoor Photographer for my work to protect Bristol Bay through Where Water is Gold

June 26, 2017: High Country News Review of "Where Water is Gold"

I was pleased to see that High Country News conducted a review of Where Water is Gold. You can read an online excerpt of the review here

May 3, 2017: Silver Medal in Nautilus Book Awards

These are the kind of subject lines you like to see in an email: "Joyful News: You Have a Nautilus Award, Silver Winner." This was an email sent to my publisher, Braided River, and copied to me. It was my first notice of a Silver Medal in the Nautilus Book Awards. Read more here.

Just wrapping up its 19th year in operation, the Nautilus Book Awards recognizes books that "transcend barriers of culture, gender, race, and class, and promote conscious living & green values, spiritual growth, wellness & vitality, and positive social change." Its mission is "to make more visible a wide subject range of Better Books for a Better World." For the 2016 competition, Nautilus received entries from 36 states in the U.S., and from 12 other nations. The Nautilus program "celebrates books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities and global citizens." Unlike the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Nautilus accepts entries from author self-published works to small press to the large publishers

My photoethnography of Southwest Alaska, Where Water is Gold: Life and Livelihood in Alaska's Bristol Bay, was awarded a Silver Medal in the "Green Living and Sustainability" category. It was one of four titles to earn a 2016 Nautilus Book Award from last year's titles from The Mountaineers Books / Braided River. It joins a prestigious listf Braided River titles that have earned a Nautilus Book Award: To the Arctic, Florian Schulz (Gold Medal, 2012); Salmon in the Trees, Amy Gulick (Gold Medal & Silver Medal, 2011).

April 18, 2017: Gold Medal in Independent Publisher Book Awards

I am excited to announce that Where Water is Gold has earned a Gold Medal in the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards, in the category "West-Pacific - Best Regional Non-Fiction." Read more here.

The Independent Publisher Book Awards, known as the "IPPY", were established in 1996 to recognize authors and publishers who might otherwise not get noticed when competing with the big publishing houses. I was pleased to learn recently that Where Water is Gold: Life and Livelihood in Alaska's Bristol Bay was awarded a Gold Medal in the "West-Pacific - Best Regional Non-Fiction" category. There were a total of 5,000 entries for the 2017 competition.

"One word to describe this year’s IPPY medal-winning books is vivid -- from the colors and images of the art and photography books to the creativity and imaginative storytelling of the fiction,” says Jim Barnes, director of the Awards. “Independent publishing is all about passion, for the topics, the causes, and for sharing great writing and publishing with a world of readers."

Where Water is Gold joins a modest list of IPPY gold medalists bearing the Braided River brand, including Florian Schulz's Yellowstone to Yukon (2006), Steve Kaslowski's The Last Polar Bear (2009), James Martin's Planet Ice (2010), Amy Gulick's Salmon in the Trees (2010), Florian Schulz's To the Arctic (2012), and Paul Bannick's Owl(2017). It is quite humbling to be a part of such an august group of photographers, but encouraging and inspiring to know that my efforts to tell the story of the Bristol Bay way of life and what is at stake in the potential development of the Pebble Mine while continue to reach a wide audience.

April 12, 2017: Feature in PDN Magazine

In an article entitled "Advice for Shooting and Supporting Wildlife Photography Projects," the editors of PDN Magazine decided to include me and how I developed the project that led to the publication of Where Water is Gold. Read the piece here

April 2, 2017: Presentation at Suquamish Museum

Delightful visit to the Suquamish Museum for my second "Where Water is Gold" presentation in the Puget Sound area. Wonderful turnout and a great crowd for questions about Bristol Bay. Thanks again Braided River for organizing these events!

April 1, 2017: Presentation at Filson Flagship Store

Great turnout last night for my "Where Water is Gold" presentation. Thanks to the staff at the new flagship Filson store in downtown Seattle for all of their help - what a great venue! Also huge thanks to Braided River for arranging the event and chef/restaurateur Kevin Davis for the incredible food. (photo by Helen Cherullo)

March 23, 2017: Interview on "Outdoor Explorer"

Thanks to Alaska Public Media and Outdoor Explorer for including Carl for an interview about Where Water is Gold for their program about Bristol Bay! You can listen to the full program here.

March 7, 2017: Interview on Around the Lens Podcast

I had the pleasure to interview with the Around the Lens Podcast, a format principally for discussions related to photojournalism. In addition to their regular podcast consisting of a rotating group of photographers (of which I am an occasional member), they are starting to do interviews with various photographers. So listen to this podcast to learn more about Where Water is Gold and my approach to this project.

February 23, 2017: Write-Up in the Peninsula Clarion

I had the opportunity to travel to Soldotna to provide a presentation about Where Water is Gold at the Kenai Peninsula College. Following that, the Peninsula Clarion published a piece about me, my journey in the project, and the work of the book itself. Read the article here

December 23, 2016: Feature in "Our Arctic Nation"

In 2016, while the United States was the chair of the Arctic Council, the U.S. State Department created a publication called "Our Arctic Nation." It featured one person from each of the 50 states, showing our connection to the vast Arctic. As a South Dakota native living in Alaska, I was selected to represent South Dakota.  In the piece, "From the Black Hills to the Brooks Range: A Visually Inspiring Journey from South Dakota to the Arctic," I get the opportunity to tell my connection. Read the piece here

December 2016: Testimonial from Vic Fischer

I am honored to have been contacted by Victor Fischer, who provided this testimonial about Where Water is Gold:

"The book is simply beautiful, outstanding. I read through it several times, particularly delightfully after the Alaska Supreme Court decisions on the Pebble law suit. Carl really did a great job providing an intimate view of Bristol Bay and its people."

Vic Fischer is one of two surviving delegates to the Alaska Constitutional Convention that took place in Fairbanks starting on November 8, 1955. He served on the committee that drafted the final langugage of the Alaska Constitution that was first adopted by the delegates on February 5, 1956 and ultimately ratified by the people of Alaska on April 24, 1956. Because of his intimate knowledge of the Alaska Constitution, the intent of the delegates in adopting Article VIII of the Alaska Constitution, which deals with natural resources, Vic was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that challenged the State of Alaska's practice of approving large scale hard rock mineral exploration without a public process. This lawsuit targeted the 20+ years of exploration at the Pebble Prospect that occurred outside of public input. The Alaska Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs in two opinions issued in May 2015.

November 14, 2016: High Country News Reading List

I am pleased to announce that High Country News has selected Where Water as Gold for its list of "Recommended reading to take you into the next year." If you are not familiar with High Country News, it is a magazine "For People Who Care About the West." It covers a variety of issues from energy to wildlife to public lands management. I am excited and honored for my book to be considered among "The season's best titles for new fiction and nonfiction."

November 2016: Testimonial by Jim Brandenburg

In the mid, I worked as a canoe guide in the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota. I became familiar with the work of Jim Brandenburg, who inspired me not only by his vision but through his dedication to conservation. When I published Where Water is Gold, I had to send him a copy and thank him for the inspiration he provided me to work for conservation.

After receiving a copy of the book, Jim had this to say: "Where Water is Gold is a masterpiece and a visual delight, but Carl's caring commitment is what takes it to a higher level."

Thank you, Jim! I will keep my commitment going.

October 31, 2016: Amy Gulick Reviews "Where Water is Gold"

Amy Gulick, one of the founding members of the International League of Conservation Photographers, a columnist for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and photographer behind Salmon in the Trees, has written a reivew of Where Water is Gold for

"So often, these kinds of issues are framed as jobs versus the environment. In the case of Bristol Bay, Alaska however, it is clear that a massive proposed mine will destroy already-existing jobs, the environment, and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years. People have been migrating to Bristol Bay every summer to partake in the bounty of the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery. Carl Johnson shows us what's at stake through his beautiful photographs and insightful profiles of people who rely on Bristol Bay remaining what it currently is -- a thriving intact ecosystem with people as an integral part."

Thank you, Amy!

October 2016: Excerpt of "Where Water is Gold" in Alaska Magazine

The October 2016 issue of Alaska magazine contains an excerpt from Where Water is Gold. The excerpt is from Steve Kahn's and Anne Coray's essay on the subsistence way of life.

October 15, 2016: Review of "Where Water is Gold" in Anchorage Daily News

In its October 2, 2016 edition of "We Alaskans," Alaska Dispatch News contributor Nancy Lord write a review of Where Water is Gold. The piece begins with Nancy writing, "Anchorage photographer Carl Johnson is no ordinary photographer intent on capturing artful images." She later indicates that the photographs "are the book's treasure," and that Carl's "feeling for his subjects and his skill in depicting them are apparent." Read the entire review online.

October 11, 2016: PDN Magazine Reviews "Where Water is Gold"

PDN Magazine has written a review of Where Water is Gold, along with some background on Carl's photography career and how he came to develop this project. It also speaks of the collaborative process in developing the book with Braided River staff. Early in the article, PDN notes, "Where Water is Gold is simultaneously an exhaustive, academic, visual cataloguing of a way of life, and a love letter to a place." Later, PDN observes, "The diversity of images in the book speaks to Johnson's deep experience working in the Alaskan wilderness."

July 2016: Excerpt in Alaska Sporting Journal

The Alaska Sporting Journal has published an excerpt from Where Water is Gold. Given the nature of their audience, the Journal published Nick Jans' essay highlighting the incredible recreation and tourism values of the Bristol Bay region.

July 2016: Post about Twin Lakes in Longitude Books' "Favorite Spot"

Longitude Books, which recommends reading for those with travel in mind, has featured Twin in its "A Favorite Spot" segment on its blog as part of bringing Where Water is Gold to its readers. It's a pleasure to be included in this audience, and to provide a little sample of the wonders that Bristol Bay offers.

July 19, 2016: Carl on KTVA's Daybreak program

Anchorage CBS affiliate KTVA interviewed Carl Johnson about Where Water is Gold on its morning program "Daybreak."

July 15, 2016: Letter from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

I was very pleased to have my publisher Braided River forward me a copy of this letter from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote the forward to Where Water is Gold

June 28, 2016: KDLG Coverage of "Where Water is Gold"

KDLG Coverage of

Dillingham public radio affiliate KDLG has posted a piece about the book, including some audio from an interview with Carl Johnson. You can see the piece here.

May 26, 2016: Winning Images in the North Pacific Research Board photo contest

Two of my images, which also appear in Where Water is Gold, where awarded Honorable Mention in the North Pacific Research Board Photo Contest. You can see here the winning images in the 2016 competition. 

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