The simplest thing you can do to make your photography better is to work with other photographers, and working with Mason Johnson has certainly opened my eyes to ideas that continue to tickle my brain and stir my creativity. Mason is a filmmaker and producer and head of Klepticenter Productions based in Utah. I’ve worked with Mason on commercials and events, and he’s got a few ideas, both technical and creative, that I think will help you with your work.

Technical Tips

Your camera is probably capable of making videos, and so is Photoshop, and it’s high time you learned at least the basics of how these things work. Watch Mason’s reel (video portfolio) and you’ll see some very interesting ideas for shots to make while recording video or making photographs as well as some really cool things that can be done after capture. One thing that stands out to me is how the music sets the pace of the picture–this is what I’m trying to learn to integrate into my own slideshows.


Isn’t that awesome? It sets my mind spinning with ways that I could make those kinds of effects on still images. See how the images have been layered so that a still image appears to have parallax depth as the image moves? See how the pictures change with the beat of the music?

Creative Tips

From talking with Mason and watching his career progress, I’ve learned a two ideas help me keep my head up and looking to the next step in my work.

“You don’t have to know everything to get startedit’s ok to dive in head first and learn as you go.” Mason has made movies in his backyard, studied film formally, done lots of different jobs on film/TV sets, and he’s toured the world filming musicians. He says it’s okay to pursue your passion before you’re a master at it. This is a reminder we can all use now and then, and I think it starts with saying, “I’m a Photographer” without any qualifiers.

“All art is borrowed.” Every time Mason watches a video or movie he pays attention to how the film is shot and how those techniques might improve his craft. He learns from everything he sees, and practices it so that he’s ready to use the best tool for the job. I’ve seen this in my work, too, and I strive to learn the techniques other photographers use. You may have heard the adage, “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Without the instruction and practice I’ve garnered from others, my pictures would all look the same and be pretty boring.

I’m really glad to know Mason, and I’m glad he’s been good enough to share his work with me, and give me tips to help me make steps toward making films, too. I hope you’ll give moving pictures a shot, too.

Full Disclosure: is Photofocus’s partner, and they license music for creatives like me and Mason to use in our works. Mason hadn’t used them before, but he was excited about the quality of their music and the availability of popular music–and the inexpensive entry point for good songs. I was really excited about the motion he added to songfreedom’s graphic at the end of his reel. I think I could do that in Photoshop…