Jahmal Johnson: Drip or Drown — Finesse, Renown

When the Instagram bio starts off with “trying to make my momma proud” before diving into the meat and potatoes of the page, it gets a little difficult to temper your expectations. We’re all just trying to make our mommas proud, or our aunties or granddads or whoever it is that’s supported us on our journeys. So when someone straight up says it as a precursor to their work, well, you really want to support their efforts.

Jahmal Johnson, who shoots under the handle @londonmadethis and works from Clearwater and the Tampa area, believes in the statement wholeheartedly. “I’m a 90’s baby born and raised in the sunshine state…by two queens and a family that was always big on capturing memories.” Like so many others, he began to flex his photography muscles in earnest during high school, taking pictures after school on an iPhone with his friends Kyle and Danny. But it wasn’t anything too serious at the time, and even when he graduated and got a proper photo taking machine, it still wasn’t quite enough to kickstart true intensity.

“I wasn’t real big on photography until early this year,” Johnson says, before reflecting on what gave him a definitive push. “My older bro actually called me one night and asked randomly me why I don’t take pictures anymore…I lost the love for it after my friend moved away. We had a long conversation that night. I slept on it, woke up, told myself I gotta stop procrastinating and start taking charge…I’m trying to give my momma a Benz with the red bow on the hood cause she deserves the world.” 

With that in his sights, he’s been aiming for the top, methodically shooting and trying things out, “linking with various artists and fashion models, creating my own style.” He’s in no hurry to rush out content just for the world of the ‘Gram. The portraits he puts together are hot. Confidently composed, sometimes playfully introspective, sometimes candid and open, or sometimes glossy, expertly polished, like something from a magazine editorial.

They’re each filled with a vibrant, buzzing energy that makes the photos compelling. The visual equivalent of breaking open a bar of dark chocolate and letting it melt on your tongue. He contrasts deep shadows and dark tones with rich blankets of color, plus frames that let the subject easily pop against their background, which can get tricky in a dim or chaotic environment.

Johnson carries a similar feeling into his more experimental work — street, concert, and car photography. He handles them with the same poise and lowkey precision even though he admits that “long-term I see myself shooting high-end fashion and featuring in magazines like Vogue, GQ, Dazed.” But as a creator still near the beginning of his craft, he’s unafraid to branch out, test his limits, get the most out of any photographic experience. He’s even open to the idea of dabbing “a bit into wildlife photography,” shooting exotic animals in their natural habitats, places like Africa or Australia. 

Honestly, willingness and ambition like that are exactly the traits that set world-class photographers apart from their peers in the end. Being able to offer versatility, as well, becomes more desirable in the fast-paced, cutthroat world of putting together a unique editorial.

We wouldn’t be surprised at all to soon see Johnson rising through the ranks and making a big name for himself. He’s all set to offer others words of wisdom, and they are ones we can already trust him on because he’s living proof: “Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. Shoot a different style every day until you find that certain groove.”


INSTAGRAM @londonmadethis

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