New Video: Ongoingness
December 21, 2022

I am super excited to share a new short video about a woman who went through a major life change during Covid which led to her picking up the practice of swimming in ice cold water. I call it, Ongoingness. Enjoy!

November 29, 2022

GIVING TUESDAY CHALLENGE in support of Aldo Leopold Foundation !

When I first shared images to choose between for a benefit fundraiser for the Foundation, a whopping ONE HUNDRED of you MAGICAL HUMANS VOTED to select this image for the cause.


You guys Blew me Away. If just 50% of all who voted took the next step, this could be done in a hot minute. Or 25% of you decided to give two of these, one for you, one for a friend, colleague... half a hot minute!

NOW, I would LOVE to invite you to a very specific, time-sensitive challenge. My vision is simple: To raise $2500 for the Foundation by selling out this limited edition of ONLY 50 prints by December 12th!


YOU or someone you love receives a beautiful photograph made of a site responsive installation I made on the Leopold land, as a reminder of the gold within which can never be tarnished and your precious connection to the land.
(Photograph signed and comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity)


KNOW that your purchase helps support the Foundation's work to inspire an ethical, caring relationship between people and nature through Leopolds legacy including historic preservation, Land care, Community education, and cultivating leadership for conservation. The Foundation also fosters education and outreach about a land ethic on a global scale, working through educators and other ambassadors who extend our capacity by helping awaken an ecological conscience in others.

I receive the other $2500 which helps cover the cost of having made the work, travel back and forth, gas costs (which lately, I don't need to tell you!), materials, as well as my continued efforts to make work responsive to our current ecological, energetic and spiritual moment in service of our communal healing.

Please, if you do not mind, share this post, BUY the PRINT please and let's show the land and the Sandhill Cranes, and the future generations, and those miraculous dinosaurs winging their way through time, that we see them and care and will do what it takes to make sure these magical places and creatures will be there for generations to come.

Thank you thank you thank you. Use the link below to make your purchase directly from my website.



November 28, 2022

NOW AVAILABLE! The Inner Gold print collection. This special limited-edition photograph is a celebration of healing from within from my ongoing series, The Universe Shines with Reflected Light. One photograph has been made available as a limited edition with two sizes to choose from.

Each print is made by me on archival Epson Metallic Luster paper with a subtle shimmering surface that provides extreme sharpness and depth. Includes a numbered and signed certificate of authenticity.


Order today from my website!

Archival Inkjet print

30" x 30" overall
Limited Edition of 5
$888 Holiday Special Price $688

10" x 10" overall
Limited Edition of 5 (4 available)

This piece is where for me the deeply personal and planetary trauma intersect. Living beings who are impacted by trauma
and try living without receiving loving care to heal suffer a great deal. The way we do one thing is the way we do everything. If we are unhealed, we may be inclined, quite unconsciously, to act in ways which perpetuate trauma from one generation to the next, on all with whom we come into contact.

As we begin to do the inner work which can transform our thoughts, feelings and actions, we may feel simultaneously broken apart and strangely as if things begin to make sense; we can begin to piece things together. It can be as if the truth was there all along, quietly waiting to be perceived. In such moments, we repair our relationship to ourselves, by which I mean of course, across boundaries, to all that is. We begin to piece things together. In the earth in shallow graves, we can lay down the husks of our old selves. They reflect back to us the goodness, the gold which has always been part of us, of everything since the dawn of time, that gold which can never be tarnished.

Yasmin: Prague 9/2022
September 13, 2022

Lom Homolák
Czech Republic
Sunday September 10, 2022

Yasmin and I had quite the adventure finding this place.

Exiting our Bolt taxi at what seemed to be a road closed to the public.

walking into a wild area without a map

no Internet signal anywhere except at the top of the road

Yasmin just kept saying yes and so did I.

Two young men with backpacks in the woods when I managed to speak the name of the quarry lake in Czech although very badly, pointed generally in a forward and left moving direction. And so we kept walking forward and generally left.

A young couple exploring in the woods. The young man said she knows this area well and can show you the quarry. We followed them.

we entered a landscape that looked like the opening scene from Breaking Bad.

A little further on boys on dirt bikes raced up and down the muddy mountain.

we kept walking following this young girl and boy

and suddenly, there it was, a beautiful pool of green tranquil under a cloud studded sky

Yasmin and I continued with her ritual and it was magical. All the parts of the adventure where necessary. Each apparent setback was actually a moment of grace to keep going, to trust the divine.

once immersed in water the human body experiences many remarkable things. We know that water makes us feel wonderful weather were in it or next to it. Ive been doing research into the neuroscience of immersion in water.

In Wallace J Nichols book, Blue Mind: how water makes you happier, more connected and better at what you do, he writes:
(and this is a quote from Bruce E. Becker, Director of the national aquatics and sports medicine institute at Washington State University)

During immersion, the body sends out a signal to alter the balance of catecholamines in a manner that is similar to the balance found during relaxation or meditation.

In other words, just being in the water can create a feeling of relaxation and a decrease in stress.

In the ritual, The Waters We Swim In, you are immersed in water so you can access this more relaxed state which makes it easier to touch and heal and ultimately release your inner wounds an open yourself up to your own divine beauty and place in the pattern of all things so that you can do the work you're meant to do.

This is what happened for Yasmin on Sunday.

If this resonates with you, whether you're in the Midwest or somewhere else in the world, I invite you to join this global movement for healing and human potential. Email me through the contact page and let's talk.

Thank you to Yasmin Lambie-Simpson, being so magnificent.

Thank you to Jessica Serran for being amazing and so supportive every dang day.

Thank you to Libor Pospisil for your kindness and help with locations.

Thank you to Isabelle Rizo Gönczy who's photo inspired Yasmin three years ago and for being the first to say this was a global movement.

we like small things at Filter Photo
August 17, 2022

I'm so pleased and proud to have this work was selected for the Filter Photo exhibition, "we like small things v.5," juried by Jan Christian Bernabe.

Thought Form: The Divine Revealed in it's Own Time

Inkjet print, 10 x 10 inches, Edition of 5, 2 AP.
Available for purchase through Filter Photo ($333. A portion of proceeds go to Filter to support their magnificent programming)

The exhibition will run from September 9th  October 22nd, with an opening reception on September 16th, during the 2022 Filter Photo Festival.

I'm especially proud of this piece because it came after so much intense in our work around my own most difficult life experiences and a diagnosis of complex post traumatic stress disorder. This was the piece of work I made just as I was beginning to turn the corner on my own healing and really step into an entirely new way of being.

I'm also extremely grateful to the Photography Department at Columbia College Chicago where I am currently an MFA candidate. Columbia has given me the time and space, intellectual challenge and support to make new work in ways that exceeded all of my expectations about what I thought I could do as an artist.

Dealing with Anger and Rage in the Creative Process
August 05, 2022

Rage and anger have come up a lot lately all over the world with people I know, not just artists but almost everyone. Wherever you live, you may have your own reasons. They may be personal and intimate, local and social, national or global political, ecological, etc. Someone recently asked how I handle anger or rage feelings and in answering them, I thought it might be good to share here since it's coming up so much. 

Mind you these are my practices. They work for me. If they help you, great. If not, please don't take my words as prescription you must follow. Hear me out, if you like, and then investigate for yourself. Does it make sense for you, work for you? There are many ways in this world.

Dear beautiful humans, if you're feeling rage, that's definitely something to work with. How I deal with those kinds of feelings has a few branches.

One: I don't want the hormones and chemicals of rage to build up in my body because that feels terrible and can lead to illness or disease when not allowed to move through. So, if I feel too agitated to sit still, I will frequently go to movement to have a somatic way to discharge the energy. Something fairly rigorous like a fast walk, or a bike ride or a swim. I do what is easiest and most accessible so I don't get stuck in thinking about what's best (which was an old pattern for me- overthink! LOL.)

This allows me to settle enough to examine what is going on for me and begin to make sense of it all.

Two: From there, I do a bit of inquiry. I know that anger or rage, are secondary emotions. Underneath it is either sadness or fear. So I ask myself, which one am I feeling? And I sit there and allow the feeling to come, I don't fight or resist it.

If it's sadness, sometimes that realization leads to a good ole sobbing outpouring if that's what's needed. As the crying moves through me, that sadness and/or grief along with it, I stay open to what's causing it and keep asking until I feel like I get to the bottom of it. That can take some time so I make room and love for it.

If it's fear, I inquire, what am I afraid of and name it and then keep asking, what else? And in the same way, keep going till I feel like I've got to the bottom of it or have done enough for today. I never force myself to rush. I allow all of it to have space and time and love.

If there are other things that MUST get done at a certain time, then I decide I'll give myself a certain amount of time and then I'll stop and make time for recovery, which usually includes at least a brief rest and a shower, because rage makes me stink! And I know, I can come back to it later and continue to inquire and process.

Of course, there's more after that, but that's how I begin. Everything really is anchored in love, allowing, and inquiry.

From there I find ways to bring what is unearthed, revealed, floats to the top or in the still waters can be seen at the bottom, into the studio, into my work. Sometimes there's journaling or just intuitive making which I allow in, 100% trusting the process to lead me expansively onwards. I know I'm right where I need to be, remember it is a process and love myself. Make the work. Let things arrive in their own time.

Hope this helps you! 

xoxo, so much love and many blessings,

Are you skipping out on the self care?
July 25, 2022

(photo by Andrey Shtefutsa) 

Beautiful humans!

Do you encourage others to rest but press yourself onwards without a break?

Do you wait until you are in crisis mode before remembering your meditation practice?

Are you cutting some corners in your self care rituals in general?

If you are a yes for any of the above, then I want to encourage you to consider grabbing some time for yourself in one of earth's most beautiful and awe-inspiring places this August 5-7.

(photo by Yee Kiu Ng)

Join me and Katie Sollohub in Cuckmere Haven for a weekend retreat designed just for you.

This retreat offers a restorative weekend of deep rest, healing, and creative expression through guided meditation, walking the land, silence and a range of experimental drawing exercises to help you reconnect with yourself and the beauty of your surroundings.

There's just three spots remaining in this intimate offering for a maximum of 12 souls.

It's time to give yourself the deep rest you truly need so you can bring your best your life, love and work. Feel free to ask any questions after reading the description. I'm happy to answer you.

Please share to help spread the word.

Blessings, Hillary Johnson

July 20, 2022

I invite you to 8 Weeks to sovereignty of your own mind.

Practical, earthy, no bs, you can do it instruction in meditation and knowing your own mind.

When you can see clearly what your mind is kicking up and pause to ask some powerful questions rather than merely reacting, you gain agency so you can be clear about what you are thinking, saying, believing and doing.

No need to be a tumbleweed blown about by every little breeze.

Join us and please share! Let's spread the goodness and compassion EVERYWHERE!

Class starts Sept 6th at 6pm Central Time. Check your time zones!

Image Union: The Poetics of Grief
June 23, 2022

I'm very honored to be included in new programming from ImageUnion in a show titled, "The Poetics of Grief," curated by Isabelle Rizo Gönczy.

I hope you enjoy the show and the many wonderful films. It's wonderful to be in such talented company.

We don't know much about how to handle grief. As a result we pretend sometimes like everything is okay, or suppress the feelings, distract ourselves, or numb etc. I hope these films open some doors of possibility for you in your own hearts and with your own experiences of grief.

If this resonates with you, I'd love it if you would please share the show with friends to help spread the word.

Thank you,


Living on the Edge: Art and Meditation Retreat in the UK
June 18, 2022

Living on the Edge: An Expressive Arts Retreat for Navigating Difficult Times

We are living in particularly challenging times. This retreat is a gift to yourself of a beautiful container, a safe space to explore, draw, play, experiment, rest, release and let go.
You will be held in this space by Hillary Johnson (Chicago, USA) and Katie Sollohub (Sussex, UK) - both highly experienced Arts and Meditation practitioners, who will guide and nourish you over the course of two and a half days, while you immerse yourself in the spectacular landscape of the Seven Sisters Country Park at Cuckmere. No experience necessary, all materials and food will be provided, just bring yourselves, an open heart and a willing mind. 
As sensitive, creative souls we might often find ourselves walking along that edge between heartbreak and beauty. This course is for you if you answer yes to any of the following:


This retreat offers a restorative weekend of deep rest, healing, and creative expression through guided meditation, walking the land, silence and a range of experimental drawing exercises to help you reconnect with yourself and the beauty of your surroundings. 
When: From 4pm on Friday 5th August to 4.30pm Sunday 7th August 2022 (Accommodation is not included but we can offer advice on where to stay locally. All food and materials are provided)
Where: Coastguard Cottages, Cuckmere Haven, Near Seaford, East Sussex - directions will be sent to you on booking - please note there is a 12-15 minute walk downhill to the cottage from the carpark, uphill on the way back! 
Cost: £378 including all materials and food (early bird price £324 if booked by 8 July 2022) Registration and Booking via Eventbrite
We are inviting you to join us at one of the Coastguard Cottages in Cuckmere Haven, perched on the edge of the land. Built in 1822 the cottages have been a protective presence for 200 years. The cottage only hosts one or 2 retreats a year, so this really is a unique opportunity to visit such a magical location. 
Being part of a Nature Reserve, a natural floodplain and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the location hosts phenomenal birdlife and fantastic views. The quiet pebble beach nearby is dominated by the white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters, sitting at the mouth of the meandering River Cuckmere. Here you can literally surround yourself with natural beauty so that you can reconnect with the beauty of yourself.

You will be held with care as you enter the sacred space of this spectacular and fragile place. Throughout the retreat you will be gently guided and supported as you prepare to re-emerge into the world. The retreat will give you an opportunity to:

TIMETABLE (for a full timetable see below)

Friday 5 August 4pm - 8pm 
Saturday 6 August 10am - 4pm 
Sunday 7 August 10am - 4mm


(You are welcome to stay until 9pm if you wish)



Katie Sollohub 
Katie lives in Shoreham by Sea in West Sussex, UK, where she revels in the coastal landscapes and swims in the sea every day. She has a background in Anthropology, Fine Art, Yoga and Meditation, and has been teaching and facilitating workshops for over 25 years. Her current research and creative practice has brought all these disciplines together, working with people both as a teacher and as a socially engaged artist, interested in the capacity for risk and the psychological, spiritual and physical health of herself and others.
Katie says: I like to bring things alive through my creative practice, animating objects and spaces. Observation, sound and touch help me feel present, anchoring me in a place from where I can dream. In 2020 she was awarded 1st prize in the Derwent Drawing Prize.

Her work is often marking time through ritual and routine. Working in series, connecting her daily practice of meditation to the creative process. Her current practice includes a self portrait made in the bathroom mirror straight after her routine dip in the sea each day. She has done this for 18 months now, and is continuing indefinitely. In 2021 she received Arts Council funding for Immersed, a project about cold water swimming and wellbeing, for which she swam with and painted over 70 sea swimmers in Sussex, honouring a shared love of the experience. 
Katie runs regular one day workshops face to face, weekly Drawing and Meditation sessions online, and occasional short courses. You will find news on the About page of her website, or follow her on Instagram @katiesollohub 
Hillary Johnson
Hillary Johnson is an international, interdisciplinary artist, meditation teacher and healer living by Lake Michigan in Chicago, USA. She has been facilitating workshops, teaching and offering individual coaching for over 15 years. Growing up by the ocean imbued Hillary with a deep love of our ever changing seas where she enjoys sailing, swimming and wool-gathering. 
Her work and research investigates the tensions and challenges created when drastic upheavals transform or destroy delicate beauty. Her work also explores the potential for deep personal and social transformation through the healing power of art. Her life purpose is to help others evolve and expand their capacity for love, abundance, and creativity through photography, immersive installations and embodied transformational practices.

I love to hold space for others' healing, helping them become better witnesses to their own evolution so they might discover and fulfil their potential. I believe our greatest work is creating the most beautiful lives we can, so we can heal and share our gifts with others. To me the greatest tragedy would be getting to the end of ones life and not having fully done what one was put here to do. 
Hillarys work often involves creating experiences and rituals to witness, name and celebrate the deep inner process of healing and connecting. Her current practice is a global movement called, The Waters We Swim In, a ritual of transformation which combines meditation, powerful questions and immersion in water for deep healing. The resulting photos which each participant receives serve as daily reminders of their inner beauty, expansive capacity and sovereignty.  

Participants in Living on the Edge Retreat are invited to radically deepen their healing experience with a private session of The Waters We Swim In with Hillary before or after the retreat, at a special price just for those in attendance. The Waters We Swim In is a peaceful, bespoke experience that creates space for you to reconnect with your own inner goodness so that you can unleash your gifts and do the work you were meant to do. To inquire and arrange your session, book a complimentary consultation with Hillary

Hillary leads meditation and creativity workshops online and face to face, as well as periodic retreats around the world. You can learn more about her on her website , and follow her on Instagram @hillaryjohnsonthephotographer 

 Katies breathing exercises were surprisingly powerful, connecting with a feeling I didnt know was there. With my eyes closed making marks in response to the rhythms of my breath I felt a greater connection to my inner self   

 Thank you Katie for being so daring and honestly so.  It is for me your voice which holds the space in silence. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and learning with us as it is happening.

"Ive had the best January because of you Katie…its just been brilliant. Tuesdays are now like the magic tuesday. Youve unlocked something, so thanks a million"      

Thank you Katie for reminding me what's important and what's not.



Hillary immediately put me at ease and I placed my trust in her completely. Even as the waves were pushing me towards the shore. This water experience was beyond anything I could have envisioned.

"The Waters We Swim In" is a retreat toward calm and reflection during these turbulent times.

I am still swimming in the magical experience we had this morning. Being part of The Water We Swim In is incredibly meaningful. Thank you for a magical experience that healed my soul and reconnected me to the universe.
Daniel Martin Is the current steward of the property and will be taking care of the container as you practice. He will also be preparing the food (vegan) throughout the weekend. Although not leading this retreat, he has 20 years of experience as a yogi and meditator, and is training as a yoga therapist. 
* More information, location map and how to reach the cottages will be sent once you have made your booking

The Landmark Tree Handmade Artist Book
June 11, 2022

The Landmark Tree

Northerly Island
Chicago, Illinois
United States

This work centers on a single tree teetering on the possibility of failure or life. The viewer is invited into precariousness, to join the tree, a tentative survivor at the margins, with full humility, in this challenging, human-built landscape of neglect. Though the landscape may appear at first glance to be a place of natural beauty, with closer examination, it is revealed as a landscape of threat. As such the tree becomes a surrogate for us, in this Anthropocene age, facing survival, only tentatively.

This is meant to make space for us to confront and contemplate, what most know but prefer not to, our direct, embodied experience of fragility. In seeing this tree, this way, we have the possibility to meet this truth, and in that space, make room for hope, however slender. I hope this viewing might be, as Theodore Roethke, described, event that meant as much as simple seeing.

Finally, Northerly Island (the location where this work was made) is an entirely artificial construction. Part of Burnhams grand vision for Chicago. I recently learned that the building of this island (and much of Chicagos coastal land, is a transgression against treaties with the native people who lived here and still do, a case which is ongoing. As far as I understand it some of the tribes include Potawatomi and Peoria.

Handmade artist book

Edition of 30 with variations

13"T (stick height variable) x 3"


Edition of 30 with variations
13"T (stick height variable) x 3"
Black and white photographs on Hiromi Japanese long fiber paper with hand sewing, found twig and small pebble from location. Cover boards with linen book cloth.

Shipping available in US or Internationally.

Please contact me with interest if this speaks to you.

Bespoke Books
May 21, 2022

One of a kind bespoke handmade book for Alejandra Camacho

The images were all made during her session with me as part of, The Waters We Swim In, on her birthday in 2020.

its hard to believe that almost 2 entire years have passed since that day.

Im so happy that she is on her way to take one of these pictures to her sweet mother in Mexico.

And this book will be waiting for her when she returns to Chicago. A lasting reminder and keepsake of the deep healing she did on that day.

One of the things I love most about doing this healing work with people is seeing the amount of transformation that is possible even when the person has been through all kinds of incredible pain.

I think thats certainly one of the reasons Im so drawn to do this work is because of my own experiences with trauma and healing.

This deep feeling I have inside that says all of us deserve to feel loved and be able to see ourselves with the eyes of love.

We each have our place in this beautiful universe.

if youre having a hard time experiencing that and youre really ready to make a change then, Im here to help.

if this sounds interesting to you please reach out and learn more about this healing water ritual. You can email me through the website.

Im booking sessions anywhere in the globe where you happen to be because theres no place that suffering needs to continue needlessly.



Looking for Magic?
May 20, 2022

When I found vipassana meditation, I was desperate for truth and clarity.

I'd been suffering so much, for so long, that I craved even the smallest crumb of feeling like I had a bit of truth as ground under my feet.

The idea that I could actually learn to navigate life more wisely wasn't the big draw, it was the promise of LESS SUFFERING.

It made sense to me that naturally, life would continue to throw things my way that might be in fact ridiculously, egregiously painful but that I COULD BEAR IT, WOULD BE ABLE TO BEAR IT, and would not be destroyed by it. That sounded awesome to me.

After years of feeling truly existentially distressed nearly all the time, the offer of real insight, real quiet and peace in my heart and mind, sounded magical to me.

And you know, it worked then and still works now. Every day is not perfect. But whose is?

And that, for me is so small magic. As an empath, an HSP, someone with her own emotional balance and mental health challenges, I feel All the things, from all sides...and having this practice has been a life changing wonder.

If you like me, would like to know a little more peace inside, have a little more clarity, I invite you to try taking my class, which I'm happy to call Summer Meditation Party.(because why so freaking serious ALL the TIME!?)

You don't have to believe anything.

You certainly should not believe anything I say just because I say it.

Check it out for yourself.

Trust your own experience.

Give yourself 8 weeks to try it on for size. Gentle guided instruction, online and in person.

Come as you are.

We start June 7th.

$200 for the whole 8 weeks.


the power of awareness

to reduce anxiety

reclaim or initiate self trust

inner sovereignty

And if that sounds good, I invite you to please share with anyone you know who could use some of the magic too.

Thank you and see you in class!

Register here now.

May 11, 2022


Many of you asked me about pursuing training meditation and mindfulness in more depth than one time events . I'm super excited to offer it.

This will be especially great for ANYONE who's like -
I tried meditation and I can't do it.
You have a brain, a mind, a body, can do this. I'm here to help.

In an age of anxiety, and stress, it's so important to be the sovereign of your own mind. To become someone who can face whatever arises and which can not be controlled , but still must be faced, without fear highjacking your mind and capsizing into disarray.



This is a Practical Mindfulness Meditation (Vipassana or Insight Meditation) Class in Pilsen starting on June 7th.
We will meet every Tuesday from 6-7:30pm June through July.
You may attend in-person or virtually. No special gear required. No experience required.

Come as you are!

If you have friends or family, colleagues who might wish to join us, please share the info.
In the event that I may be traveling for a specific class, you will be advised and the class will be offered on Zoom.

Tuition: $200 for the two months. (which works out to $25/class. 4 classes per month)
If anyone is experiencing any kind of financial hardship, there's a no questions asked heart based sliding scale, in which you pay what you can. You may also pay in two installments if you need to. Contact me and I'll get you set up.

lovely studio portrait by Erica McKeehen
February 11, 2022


I know. It can feel cringey, scary BUT the process can actually be powerfully transformative.


Any photographer can make pictures of you, but what I do, as an artist, writer, a photographer, an empath, as someone who understands about crafting a narrative, is think about not only making the photos, but who are we making the photos for? 
Who is the audience for you? 

Who is your divine right audience, the people who want your art?

I think about: 

There are photographers out there who have a kit of lights and a sort of one size fits all approach to making portraits and headshots. And thats cool, you know…the world is big and wide and theres something for everyone.

Me, I like to draw on my zone of genius so I can help you enter yours.

I think of it this way: 

Each person in front of my camera is a unique human being. 

I want to get to know who you are, what you need, want and dream of for your future self as an artist. I help you present yourself in ways that make sense, and which are in alignment with that vision. This process takes time. 

Im also aware that being photographed can be incredibly stressful. Because Im also a meditation and mindfulness teacher, I bring that kind of support into our sessions together. 

While were making photos…we take our time.

We pause between images, and rest, so you can gather yourself, and get grounded in your body, come into your body and be ready to do more. 

We explore body language and the meaning of certain postures and positions and find what FEELS right for YOU. Even when it might feel like a bit of a stretch…because thats where the growth is.


I ask each of my photography clients a series of important questions, before our session, so that the time we have together is part of your becoming process. We talk about the sessions well before and the IMPACT you want the images to have. We do a phone or zoom pre session to go over all the details so you feel really comfortable.

While we are making your photos, we are also having a conversation, were getting to know each other more personally. I share some of who I am so I create a comfortable space in which you can reveal the parts of yourself that you feel comfortable revealing. 

I believe that making strong portraiture is about relationships and connection.

Especially if you feel any sense of trauma around being photographed, you will naturally feel reticent to have portraits made, (I know I did) and yet, you simply must have great photos of yourself for your website, social media, the catalogs of your work and all the things you need on your way to becoming the artist you want to be.

Im not shooting. Im not taking pictures.

We are collaborative together.  Ill do my best to be the wise, supportive guide who helps you show up as you.

Its a transformational process. 

Doing this work with me will help you experience yourself more fully and with greater confidence than ever before. 
I invite you to take up the space you deserve.


Up to three sessions/locations over two days 
For Only $1500*

Book your spot now with a $500 deposit. I use PayPal, Zelle, Venmo.

Then well set up a call to talk and brainstorm. I'll email your questions to think about. Then we start to look at dates for our work together. I have availability between mid-May through August 2022.
*You also cover travel expenses, flight, room, board. 

Genius Zone Idea: Team up with your artist friends and colleagues to bring me where you are and save on the expenses! Where are your local peeps? Get together and reach out to me and lets get you ready to take the art world stage!  

Imagine how fun it would be to gather together to make pictures and all the money you would save by doing that. (More money for the clothes you want to wear or art supplies!)

Interested? Email me and let the photo magic begin!

Solo Exhibition at Hüten Gallery Shanghai, China
February 11, 2022

Opening day for the first show of the year!

Hillary JohnsonThe Waters We Swim in
14, 1295 Fuxingzhong Road, Shanghai, China


Appointment Only

If you are in the Shangai area, I invite you to go see this, my first international exhibition at Hüten Gallery. The curator, Yizhi Zou, is an incredible artist herself. She has a beautiful mission for the gallery and I could not be more pleased that she gave me this opportunity to show this work which means so much to me.

The fabric prints are available in a limited edition with two Artist Reserves on silk. The video itself is also available for your collection. I look forward so much to hearing the show is received. If you go, please let me know and share your impressions.



Solo Exhibition at Hüten Gallery Shanghai, China
February 11, 2022
January 22, 2022


The year, it was probably 1987. I made this photo, on my first trip to Italy. My best friend was getting married in an old family villa outside of Florence. I'd been living in Boston in a mostly unheated loft above a dim sum restaurant with a roomate who kindly let me live there. We paid almost nothing in rent. To deal with the lack of heat we hammered a hole through wall to the central heating chimney in the center of the building. My bedroom faced east into the rising sun each day facing the old leather district, which was becoming a hub of photography studios. In winter, coming out of the shower, my body steamed in the cold. I adored living there. I worked as a photo assistant and a stringer for the the wire serves and later for the Boston Globe.

In Florence, the summer heat radiated up from the cobbled streets in thick waves. I was at a complete loss. No Italian to speak of. I was so broke I couldn't shop but didn't care. I'd come for the wedding and to learn to see the world. To learn how my eyes, my heart and mind might possibly work together. I didn't know if they could. But that question burned a white hot fire in the center of my being to find out. It was pure obsession.

My camera, which I still have and love, was an old Yashica-D 2 1/4. The lens I think had no coating. But I swear that magic pixies lived inside that little box. My own tiny camera obscura...  a bag of Tri-X swinging in a bag on my hip.

This day, my roommate and I were grouchy with each other. Terrible traveling companions as it turned out. We still hadn't figured out that we might wander around without clinging to each other like two lost little boats trying to find the harbor. 

And then, I got really lucky. I plodded heavy footed up the street, camera dangling. I felt a tingle. I looked down into the ground glass and turned slowly. I looked up. And there was this man, leaning laconically against the wall, a plume of smoke snaked up through the air. He looked past me and then right at me. A challenge in his eyes. The lines of the street, the angles of the window just past him, the shadow in the foreground, the light hitting the buildings behind, all like magic strings pulling me into the frame. 

I know he knew I was making a photo. I felt I barely had time to focus. He stared still, but the rest of him somehow so languid. All that space and light. Everything felt... complete. I summoned my courage and pressed the little button down. Click of exposure the slightest of a sounds, the tick of an insect's wing, the church bell on the hill sounded in great sonorous waves pouring past me, over me. It was complete. Everything felt whole in that moment.

This print was made while I was an artist in residence at Polaroid many years later. It's a photo of the photo made with the kind of Polaroid film that had to be peeled apart to reveal the negative inside. The emulsion could be lifted ever so gently up and applied, floated really onto another paper. (In this case an Arches cold press paper with deckled edges) I love how this version became its own piece of work. Each transfer is so unpredictable, the result unique. Not so unlike the same feeling I had making the original photo.

 I never know what the next moment will bring. (Do any of us?)

I love this image and this process and this print. It speaks of travel, of time gone by, of slow summer exploration, of being young and just going, of walking and witnessing, celebrating the beauty of the man and the street and the light, of being on the edge of the rest of my life.

I am offering this unique piece of work to that person for whom those feelings resonate, who remembers your own first trips, of being in the edge of the unknown and falling into beauty, of wanting to celebrate life. For your wall (or perhaps a friend) to see and love each day.

The image size: 9"x8"

The Arches paper size: 1"5x11"

$500. Venmo, Zelle, PayPal

Local Chicago delivery complimentary. Domestic shipping $30 Intl Shipping based on location.

Contact me to purchase and arrange your shipping.

Thank you so much. I hope the piece speaks to you as much as it does me. Wishing you beauty.

Hillary xo

Solitude is Powerful Healing for You
January 22, 2022

A little solitude can feel extremely restorative in the midst of it all.

do you give yourself permission to give yourself some solitude, some serious alone time just to allow yourself to settle gain some clarity. This kind of solitude can be very valuable if you use it as a time to simply rest or contemplate without being interrupted or disturbed.

if youre an introvert like me having some alone time is the way of charging your battery, or filling your cup with the energy required to be present for others more fully when you returned them.

or if youre an extrovert or someone whos just very high energy and Vibing all the time, solitude can be a beautiful chance for you experience just who you are on the inside deep down allowing things to settle maybe going and visiting those places inside of yourself that often dont get attention and giving them a little bit of tender loving care.

Even now in the midst of Covid when we have been isolated from each other so much more than usual, still we find ourselves and video calls are other kinds of technology trying to maintain connections. And mothers connections are important still giving ourselves the gift of solitude can be so incredibly healing. I invite you to explore this for yourself and let me know how it goes, If you feel inclined to share that.

as always thank you for stopping by. I see you. I appreciate you. Wishing you a day of some ease. Wishing you a day of happiness and the causes of happiness.

also you may like to know that these paintings of the stones will be available soon as a deck for you to explore at home as a source of inspiration and support to your own mind for pausing. If youre interested in purchasing an original watercolor and handwritten text please let me know because those are also available.

Xo Hillary

Start Your Day Grounded
January 21, 2022

Start your day feeling grounded.

Ha I know! Can feel easier said than done. Am I right?

Today I awoke with a raging to-do list blaring loudly inside my cranium.

Old Hillary wouldve freaked out. Totally. Spun in circles rather unproductively.

Current me pauses. Checks whats up. What are those thoughts? What are those beliefs? How am I feeling about it all? Is anything true that while feeling uncomfortable needs addressing?

More pausing.


Today in the pause, clarity. Let those things have embodiment in paint on paper.

What do I need in the face of this?


Today for me, that meant, go to the tools of watercolors, brush, paper and ink.

Here is what came.

A beautiful reminder.

I LOVE that the action to make the painting also created the FEELING I was after.

Now, I can write list of what to do with clarity, with frenzy-brain.

Ill walk too.

And sit my ass down on my meditation bench.

Il choose where and how to place my attention, and thus, the day will get made.

I know its not always easy.

Love to hear what grounds you in the face of your day, which feel like SO MUCH.

And, if you need, want, desire some help, I got you.

One-on-one sessions are available monthly via zoom. Support. Guidance. Practical and intuitive coaching/mentoring (as one happy client calls it.

Tell me whats up. Im here to help.