Meet Jeff Johnson, Outdoor Photographer, Fair Trade Ambassador
Simple, yet powerful.
If there’s a current underlying Jeff Johnson’s photos, it might be just that. A well-known photographer of outdoor adventure culture, Jeff is trademarked by his relentless pursuit of bold personalities—a pursuit that’s taken him around the world photographing thrill-seekers and guardians of The Great Outdoors. In his photographs, Jeff exposes the seam that binds the audacious and the everyday, inviting you to chase it with him across the globe. You might recognize Jeff as a subject of the film 180 South, a documentary film based on his second book.
It follows that such an outdoor enthusiast would champion companies that protect the planet and its people. Jeff spent many years as a photographer for Patagonia, a leading partner in the Fair Trade movement that raised $10M for environmental nonprofits last year on black Friday alone. That’s why we were thrilled to team up with Jeff for a simple, yet powerful, photo project.
Launching next week, our We Wear Fair Trade photo series honors a few of the individuals and brands making a bold, collective commitment to the people who make our clothes. Their portraits, taken by Jeff, capture the proud, the rebellious, the entrepreneurial, innovative, trailblazing leaders that are redefining the new normal for the fashion industry through Fair Trade.
Warm thanks to Jeff for his time and dedication to capturing our collective story. We can't wait to share it! Be sure to join our email list to get a first glimpse.
We caught up with Jeff at the end of the project to ask a few questions.
FTUSA: What was your favorite part of shooting this project?
Jeff: A lot for the people I’ve been shooting for this campaign are friends of mine—some I haven’t seen in a long time—so it has been fun to catch up and make some beautiful portraits. There are also quite a few people in the mix that I really look up to and have admired for years but never had the chance to meet. It’s been an honor to get to know them.
FTUSA: Why do you think it’s so important for people to ask, “Who made my clothes?”
Jeff: It's important to know who makes everything you purchase and use. Like food, clothing is something you need every day, so it's high on the list.
Since I started learning about Fair Trade I’ve always tried to buy Fair Trade products like coffee, but I had no idea how many clothing brands are partnering with Fair Trade USA. That's why I feel this campaign is so important. A lot of people don’t know they have a choice.
FTUSA: Is it a surprise that the outdoor/surf industries were the first movers and shakers of Fair Trade clothing?
Jeff: I’m not surprised at all. The connections we have with these brands is our experience with their products in outdoor settings and in wide open spaces. It just makes sense that the outdoor/surf industry would be the first.
Jeff Johnson grew up in Danville, California, and moved to Hawaii when he turned 18. He lived on the North Shore of Oahu for fifteen years where he traveled extensively; writing and taking photographs. His stories and photographs have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Surfer’s Journal, Alpinist, Surfer magazine, Climbing magazine, and Outside magazine. The Surfer's Journal describes him as, "a piece of true grit,” and someone who, "doesn't back down when sketching the seamier side of the surf ghetto". His first book, Bend to Baja: A biofuel powered surfing and climbing road trip, was published in 2006. His second book, 180 South: Conquerors of the Useless, is a documentary film and coffee table book published in 2010. Jeff now resides in Santa Barbara, California. He works as a creative director, photographer and writer. He divides his time between the mountains and the ocean.