Matthew Johnson fell in love with photography on a round-the-world trip, during which he had planned to write a novel. “It became another way for me to tell stories,” he says.



Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is a fine art photographer based in New York, whose work brings an alternative perspective to every day moments. Above Ground is a series of 35mm film images, taken at elapsed exposure from train windows in New York City, Upstate New York, and across the United Kingdom with multiple international series on the horizon. The obscure beauty and evocative softness of each capture calls on the imagination of the viewer, who could perceive a memory, a dream or the passing blur of a daily commute.

Above Ground was conceived when Johnson took a string of photographs from his train as it emerged from a dark subway tunnel onto the Manhattan Bridge, accidentally overexposing a few frames. When he developed the film, the images were hazy and atmospheric. Glimpsing the beginnings of a series, he began consciously shooting long exposures from the train. “The pictures started to feel emblematic of how we experience familiar surroundings and routine journeys,” he says. “It intrigued me and resonated as a narrative.”

His black and white photographs of New York City have an enduring quality. “I’m drawn to timelessness,” he says. “While New York is drastically different to how it was 100 years ago, there are still ways to capture the city that could be from that time: someone touching a handrail, or a figure crossing the street in a play of shadows and light. It’s a bustling city, but it’s the quiet moments that I connect with.”