For those of you unfamiliar with my work, please allow me to introduce myself…
My name is Forest Johnson. Based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I’m a photographer and video cinematographer whose top-quality work has earned worldwide recognition and noted clientele.
The east coast of southern Florida is well known as the boating capital of the world. The climate and close proximity to the Bahamas and Caribbean add to its reputation as a year-round playground. Born in Miami, I have been a resident here my entire life and close familiarity with the area has been a great boost to my career. Being around boats my whole life has helped my career as well—as has my passion for aviation.
I am the son of a famous boat-builder, Forest E. Johnson, who designed and built Prowler Boats. These legendary boats were custom-made with mahogany frames and white cedar planking. Powered by straight inboards, they served as great cruising and fishing boats.
Originally from Key West, Florida, my father built his first boat at the age of 14. He never looked at boat-building as a job—it was always a passion for him.
This lifelong desire to create beautiful wooden boats brought him to Coconut Grove, Florida, in the early 1930s, and later to a manufacturing facility on the Miami River. My father built boats for the city, county, and state of Florida, as well as the U.S. Navy. He built boats for many famous customers who became his close friends . . . such as Bill Burdine of the department store, “Burdine’s Sunshine Fashions,” which later became “Macy’s.” Burdine owned 21 Prowlers throughout his life, having a new one built every two years.
My father’s other good friends included President Richard M. Nixon, who fished a lot with my dad. Don Aronow, the originator of Formula, Donzi, Magnum, and Cigarette boats was also a close friend of my father. In fact, he helped Aronow get started in the boat-building business. His many friendships equaled his craftsmanship which began in the early part of the 20th century and continued through Prohibition, World War II, the fabulous 1950s, and throughout the 1960s.
Forest E. Johnson’s life was filled with what he cherished most—building boats, racing boats, and simply enjoying boats.
However, by 1969 most wooden boats had been replaced with fiberglass models. So, Forest E. reluctantly made the change and began to build a 23-foot and 32-foot fiberglass Prowlers until his untimely death in 1971. That’s when I came in.
After his passing, I became totally involved in the family business with my mother, Heidi. Until then, photography was only a hobby for me. My real interest was flying, especially in helicopters. As far back as 8 years old, if I got an “A” on my report card, my parents rewarded me with a 15-minute helicopter ride.
So, armed with a small camera and the thrill of flying, I developed my own passion . . .
sometimes, you just know what you want to do when you grow up!
Almost overnight I found myself running a boat-building business, which meant saving money whenever possible. Without the necessary finances needed to hire professional photographers for our ads and brochures, I decided to do it myself. Using a Nikon F-2 Photomic camera, I began to harass all the local operators of photo labs about the best ways to shoot a boat . . . and I received a completely different answer from each one! As a consequence, I learned using the trial and error method. Because I had no formal training in either photography or aerial photography from a helicopter, I simply kept trying different techniques until I found ones that worked. After awhile, I got really efficient at it.
In 1976, we sold the family boat business. My mother retired and I went to work for a distributor of Chrysler marine engines. A year later I joined the staff at Bertram Yacht and spent eight years working as the Advertising and Sales Promotion Manager. This is when I truly began to hone my skills as a boat photographer.
In 1986, I started my career full-time as a location and aerial photographer specializing in the marine industry. My career has spanned the globe, taking me to various corners of the world and working with a lot of great people.
I have been fortunate to have won many awards, including being named International Photographer of the Year for the Bahama Islands. I was also named by Popular Photo magazine as a true specialist in my field, and I celebrated my 1000th major magazine cover with the February 1998 issue of Boating magazine. To date, I have shot more than 1500 covers.
Currently, I am also involved with all aspects of HD video, including shooting, editing, production, and even doing an occasional voice-over. To see some of my video work, visit the “Video” section in this website.
I remain actively involved with the Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs of Broward County, photographing their annual fund raisers which feature large boat rendezvous. Last year’s event marked 25 years of working with this exceptional charity which helps provide kids with a positive place to learn and grow.
As a photographer who is best known for creating memorable images in the marine industry, I should also note that there are other venues of photography that I enjoy as well. Check them out by visiting the “Miscellaneous” section in this website.
I continue to specialize primarily in location and aerial photography, and still travel extensively shooting boats, destinations, and lifestyles. I shoot stock photography as well. A coffee-table book featuring my photography should be available soon.
As you navigate throughout this website, I believe you’ll recognize the passion and attention to detail I maintain with each image. It should be evident that my goal is to provide my clients with the highest quality of photography.