Rolling Out

Norman Johnson: Passionate photographer, creative and art collector

Norman Johnson: Passionate photographer, creative and art collector
Norman V. Johnson (Photo courtesy of N.V. Johnson)

By Sterling Reed


Long-time contributing photographer Norman Johnson began taking mostly pictures of celebrity events and concerts for rolling out magazine, where he worked closely with some of today’s top writers. During his tenure at rolling out, he has spent more than a decade taking photos of figures ranging from Drake during his early debut, to political icons such as Michelle Obama.


Norman Johnson: Passionate photographer, creative and art collector
Michelle Obama cover story (Photo credit: N.V. Johnson)

In 2016, he moved his creative direction toward the art world. While attending different art showcases, expos and exhibits, he noticed that photography wasn’t well recognized as collectible artwork. With this, he set out to heighten the attention to photography by creating a collaboration of original pieces, while working with some of the area’s most influential artists. 

The project officially began in 2016. While attending an exhibit at Mason Fine Art gallery, Johnson met Gilbert Young, creator of famous pieces such as “He Ain’t Heavy.” In the process, N.V. Johnson set out to find a more youthful creative in the city to strengthen the project, and eventually landed the talents of  Cam Kirk, who at the time was lighting up the hip-hop scene with his creative approach to photography.


Altogether, the project yielded seven original pieces, created by the three minds. After unveiling with an overwhelming response, it, unfortunately, hit a brick wall. Johnson continued to stay with the collaborations, working later with artists Jonathan Hall, Trap Art God, Petie Parker, and CF artistry.

Reflections on 2020

2020 started off with so much promise before the shut down I had already captured HBCU Battle of the Bands, Future, Rod Wave, G-Herbo, and all these events were packed and lit. Then on March 13, it all shut down. So I sheltered in place with my family, made sure I took care of home, had walks with my wife and long talks with my sons about the state of the world today. I invested in artwork. I gave to programs that supported creatives. I didn’t shoot much, but started drawing again and worked on my pending projects.

What is your biggest goal for this year?

I would like to exhibit the “Collective Art Collaboration” — “My Best of Rolling Out.” Both projects have very interesting stories behind the artwork.

Flip the page to learn more and to view more of N.V. Johnson’s stunning work.

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