For David Johnston, nature and wildlife are more than just a backdrop for portraits and weddings. There is a serene beauty in all of it that needs to be captured. That’s what he tries to do with much of his business, Treehugger Photography.
But why Treehugger? “I’m really environmental,” said Johnston. “Our family is green. I’m all about conservation and sustainable energy. And I really like being outside. I like to highlight natural scenes.”
Johnston’s early career runs the gamut of sales, business development, media advertising and technical web consulting. Offering to help with brand promotion, he ended up doing a lot of photography. He found he liked it more than as just a passing hobby.
But Johnston doesn’t stop there when it comes to appreciating nature. He says he likes to be involved in the community. This past spring, he reached out to Casey Jordan, Executive Director for Beacon Preservation. The non-profit organization works to preserve the lighthouses in the New England area, mainly Connecticut and Maine.
Jordan said Johnston contacted her when he read about the lighthouse preservation in the local newspaper. Eager to be involved, he offered his photography services. As a grassroots organization with little to no funding, Jordan was happy to take him up on it.
“He’s the real deal,” said Jordan of the myriad lighthouse photographs Johnston took. “He’s the most reliable, dependable person I’ve ever met. He did all this work for free.”
Jordan said Johnston came every day to help out without being asked. She said if they had to pay him what they really owed him, it would have cost thousands. "There are so many steps to follow," said Johnston, "in restoring a lighthouse."
Along with the photography he did for the organization, Johnston is also involved in Beacon Preservation’s Greenlight Academy teaching kids how to take photographs. Greenlight Academy is a summer program offered to high school-aged students in Connecticut. With almost no money and in only a few weeks, the project came together for four weeks this past summer.
Jordan said that one student from the group stands out. She described him as a loner, shy and a little distant. But Johnston put the time in with him because he showed an interest and an aptitude for photography. Jordan said in regard to that kind of effort for a child’s benefit, “This is gold for the future.”
Geoff Nosal, owner of North Cove Productions, agrees with Jordan’s take on Johnston. Nosal and Johnston grew up together. They went to school together. He was Best Man at Johnston’s wedding. They’ve even worked on projects together. As a videographer also in Connecticut, he and Johnston have collaborated on corporate projects as well as weddings.
“Dave takes environmental preservation to heart and he’s very big on raising awareness,” said Nosal. “When he can, he even rides his bike to shoots. He just grabs his camera and goes.”
That passion for the environment is what struck Lauren DiNardo, owner and designer of Lauren DiNardo Designs in Fairfield. DiNardo struck up a conversation with Johnston’s wife, Rebecca. DiNardo mentioned that she was looking for a photographer for an upcoming event for her recycled denim line. When she heard Johnston’s company was named Treehugger, she thought she found her match.
“He has great skill in capturing the moment,” said DiNardo. “I’ve worked with a lot of photographers and he’s the first person I have really met that had that kind of focus. It’s nice to work with someone who’s on the same page you are with your vision.”
DiNardo went on to say that Johnston worked with her on one event that was shot at the Connecticut Audubon. Shooting outdoors in torrential rain with models from New York City, she said he managed to make it a really fun time. “He has a passion for what he does,” she said.
DiNardo and Jordan both said they would absolutely work with him again. “He’s very talented and awesome to work with,” said Jordan, gushing slightly. “I’ve never met anybody this committed!”
To see more of Johnston's work, visit his web site. Or stop by Borders on Post Road in Fairfield where he will be the featured artist for the month of October.
Photos courtesy of Treehugger Photography.