We are Robert Johnson and Katherine Sarkissian, and for 30 years, we’ve practiced the art of photography. Our commercial work in fashion and advertising has won awards, taken us around the world and given us opportunities with clients like W Magazine, WWD, Conde Nast, Kenneth Cole, Versace, Armani, Neiman Marcus and more.
What we’ve learned along the way is that everyone — no matter who they are — needs to feel seen and valued. It’s something we realize again and again when we photograph people, whether they’re a supermodel, a philanthropist, a salesperson, a firefighter or an intern.
In 2014, we decided to go to the Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park. We set up a little studio in the middle of the field with professional lighting, a backdrop and a camera. No sales, no giveaways—we just wanted to make portraits of people who came to enjoy the festival. To do so, we spent a few minutes with each subject, giving them one-on-one attention and direction to make their portrait special. Pretty soon, there was a long line of people willing to wait hours just for that experience.
By the end of the festival’s first day, the organizers had noticed the crowd by our booth and came over to see what was happening. They were surprised to discover our photo equipment—they assumed we were giving out free food.
We had no idea our pop-up portrait project would generate such demand, but we walked away with an important realization: People crave that moment of focused attention and care, especially in front of a camera. From there, we were inspired to launch Jonsar Studios.
It all started at Afropunk Festival
MORE THAN GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY
We knew we wanted to create a luxury photo booth alternative — a high-end mobile photo studio capable of creating, processing, printing, sharing and displaying portraits with our signature quality. We wanted to do this quickly, at all kinds of events, and to deliver still portraits as well as videos and GIFs. We knew we needed robust technical tools to power the process, so we commissioned proprietary software to our exact specifications. Since then, we’ve seen how changing technology has impacted our clients’ needs, and we’ve enjoyed the creative challenge of developing solutions to meet them.
People often ask what our most memorable event has been, and the truth is, it’s impossible to choose. We’ve worked with incredible clients, including The Academy Awards, Facebook and Jack Daniels. (For more about what we’ve done, check out our case studies.) One project that was especially satisfying was a partnership with FWD.US, in which we helped share the stories of undocumented Americans.
Our business has grown since our first pop-up in Brooklyn, but one thing hasn’t changed: We’re committed to capturing people at their best. As artists, we always wanted to make beautiful pictures. With Jonsar Studios, we get to do just that—and make extraordinary experiences, too.