News from Carl Johnson

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

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

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

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

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 Amazon.com:

"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

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

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 "Daybreak"

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

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

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. 

Latest Photos

Alaska, Arctic, Autumn, Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, Mount Igikpak, aerial, landscape, national park
Alaska, Arrigetch Peaks, Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, aerial, landscape, morning, national park, winter
Alaska, Autumn, Gates of the Arctic, USA, aerial, national park, scenery
Alaska, Autumn, Gates of the Arctic, USA, aerial, national park, scenery
Alaska, Autumn, Gates of the Arctic, USA, aerial, national park, scenery
Alaska, Anaktuvuk Pass, Autumn, Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, rural, subsistence