Kyle Johnson is one of the most exciting and in-demand photographers in Seattle. The progression of his work has catapulted him from shooting local portraits to multi-page features in the New York Times and many other publications with an international audience. His strong attachment to the Pacific Northwest and his editorials for clients like Filson, highlight how seamlessly his personal connection to the outdoors fit into his professional endeavors. If you talk to Kyle you'll find out that he always has a new adventure on the horizon and if you have the pleasure of being a friend, he's quick to extend you an invitation. We spent an afternoon tagging along on Kyle's latest adventure and newest hobby of fly fishing. After fueling up at Kyle's go-to coffee spot, we jumped in his car and headed off to one his favorite fishing holes on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. On our day trip, we talked about the rituals of fishing, why the outdoors are so important to him and what paved the way to the photography career he has today.
Photography by Lauren Colton
"People joke that I’m the Mayor or the connector of Capitol Hill. I’m just a really positive person that enjoys interacting with people. What I do for work has exposed me to a creative scene in this town and I think that’s why I’ve acquired so many friends and acquaintances. I'm always thinking about who I can connect to who and recommend this place for this person. I love Seattle and I’d like to think I’m a good ambassador of all its cool stuff."
"Even as a kid I was drawn to taking photos. It is such a good fit cause everyday I get to interact with new people in a different world. I was really into the music scene here for a while and ended up doing a lot of portraits of bands. It was what made me realize I enjoyed shooting photos of people. Even though now I do a mix of things, the musicians got me into photography the most. I would have never said 3 years ago that I am a food photographer, but through travel projects involving food, I've become very interested. I would love to do a cookbook with a chef I really admire, I want to push myself."
"My grandfather was really into fly fishing and my dad didn’t really care about it, so it skipped a generation. A few years ago I did some work for Filson and was given a pair of waders. I felt that if I had these waders, I couldn't be a poser and would actually have to learn. I started going casually about four years ago and then I got super into it."
"As a freelancer, work is always on my mind. Fishing is one of the few things that allows me to not think about anything else. When I'm fishing I’m so into the environment and trying to catch a fish that I’m not worried about work or what happening on my phone. There are things you can’t turn off and fishing is one of the only ways I feel I can detach from it all. That’s probably why I get so into it."
"The longer you fish, you start seeing things without even thinking about it, your brain starts seeing them. You look for specific things, good riffles or boulders, nice little deep slots where a fish might be hanging out. It is definitely competitive for yourself. You do feel relaxed, but at the same time, there is constantly a chance of something happening, so you're always excited! If you are having a really slow day, you end up not wanting to quit 'cause you feel like it's going to change, and if you are having a really good day, you don’t want to stop. Either way, I end up staying."