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Conceptual Art Photographer Brings a Little Whimsy to the Industry | Joel Robison

By Sparkle Hill on May 28th 2015

I ran across Joel Robison‘s work several months ago, and I instantly became intrigued. He can take a portrait and turn it into a storybook-worthy piece of art. His creativity shines through with each and every image he produces. He also kicks his self-portraits up a notch by incorporating ordinary everyday objects into his work to give them a more imaginative and playful feel. Joel is a great inspiration to those who like to think “outside of the box.”


Joel Robison Photography

In fact, his images have a tendency to be so inspiring that recently, he was the victim of a full-blown “copy cat.” While it can be flattering to have others look up to your work, there are certain lines that should never be crossed. Joel speaks out about this recent incident and shows examples of the distasteful actions of a fellow photographer in his article When Imitations Stops Being Flattering. He handled the situation with dignity and class, which speaks volumes about his personal character.

Read on for the one-on-one interview I had with Joel as he shares a little about his photography journey.


Joel Robison is a 30-year-old conceptual portrait photographer originally from British Columbia, currently located in the United Kingdom. He specializes in whimsical portraits and self-portraits that paint a visual connect between reality and the imaginary world. He has been actively pursuing photography for the past six years and recently began working full-time as a photographer. He aims to share a positive, whimsical and creative view of the world around us.


Joel Robison Photography

Q & A Interview

Q: What sparked your interest in photography?

A: I started photography about six years ago after stumbling across other conceptual photographers on I had always been a more creative type, spending my childhood drawing and creating my own stories on paper. My dream was to eventually work as an animator or illustrator for Disney, but a change in direction led me to education instead. After finding these photographers, I immediately bought a camera from eBay and started teaching myself the basics, posting my work online. Over the years my audience grew, and I was able to turn this hobby into a career.

Q: What is your favorite location to shoot, and why?

A: When I’m home in Canada, I love shooting in a small field that is near my house. It’s a reclaimed area surrounded by trees and looks out over the valley my town sits in and is bordered by the beautiful Purcell Mountains. At sunset, the sun slowly dips behind giving the best golden hour opportunities. I love it because it’s like a big canvas that changes throughout the year; it’s a versatile place! (pictured below)


Joel Robison Photography

Q: Who has been your biggest inspiration(s)?

A: Photography wise, I’m inspired by those that really stretch themselves either in their imaginations or their work ethic. I’m inspired by the passion and dedication that artists like Brooke Shaden, Kirsty Mitchell, and Tim Walker put into their work. Being able to see so much time and energy into their work is inspiring to me.


Q: What’s in your camera bag? 

A: Well aside from a random collection of potential props (origami, light-bulbs, skeleton keys and stopwatches) I currently use the Sony Alpha system. I use the Sony A99 body with a few different lenses; the 85mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4, and 24-70mm 2.8.

I also keep a GoPro handy just in case I want to take some behind the scenes while I’m working.

Q: What is your favorite “go to” lens, and why? 

A: My favorite lens recently is the Sony 85mm 1.4. As I shoot mostly portraits and self-portraits, I love a good soft background to help draw focus right into the subject. The lens is crisp and clear, and I love the result each time I use it.


Joel Robison Photography

Q: What sites/resources are your favorites for learning shooting and editing techniques?

A: Hands down I think the team at Plearn is one of the best resources for photographers. Not only are they some of the nicest people in the industry, but they truly build themselves on creating a platform to encourage photographers of all levels to learn and share together. I learned a lot from Aaron Nace while I was starting and to see that he’s been able to turn that into a huge resource is amazing!

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to all beginning photographers?

A: Find out what makes you different than everyone else. It is true that the market for photographers is a crowded one, but each person that owns a camera also owns a unique identity. It’s important to find out what makes you different than everyone else and to work on that to create a style that is distinctly you!


Joel Robison Photography

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as a photographer?

A: Working on the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour. In 2013/2014, I was hired as the lead photographer and voice of social media for one of the largest world tours in history. We visited 90 countries over the span of 9 months, and as the only photographer on board, I was given the task of capturing everything from Presidential arrivals to rock concerts to orphan children playing football in the streets. It was an amazing and life changing experience. Read more here.

More Samples of Joel’s Work:


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography


Joel Robison Photography

You can follow Joel on Facebook, Twitter, or visit his website.

Feel free to follow my Facebook page as well for future featured photographers!

CREDITS: Photographs by Joel Robison Photography are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify, or re-post this article without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Sparkle Hill is a photographer based out of Canton, Georgia. She specializes in children, high school seniors, couples, and families. In early 2015, she began venturing into more artistic composites.

Sparkle strives every day to find the balance between marriage, three children, her photography career, and reaching out to advise beginning photographers however and whenever she can.

And yes, that is her real name. :)


Q&A Discussions

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  1. Stephen Glass

    Thanks I love Joel’s work!

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  2. Eden Abirgel

    Anyone can tell me what’s goin on here:
    Joel steal ideas or what?

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  3. Tom Johnson

    very creative, interesting.

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  4. Jesper Ek

    These ones doesn’t give me anything..

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  5. Dave Haynie

    These have a great look to them… they’re outstanding.

    It’s a real shame he’s getting ripped off, much less in multiple ways. The second guy is a blatent thief… no grey area that. But that first guy… I think he needs to understand the whole point of “inspiration”. I’m inspired by these photos… I’m comfortable with fairly advanced photo editing, I’d like to work on images like that. Inspired by that. That first guy clearly isn’t as good, but he’s good enough to come up with photos close enough to be obvious clones. Using that with your own ideas — that’s inspiration.

    I wrote a song (very early version here: a few years ago that some bits of inspiration from R.E.M., one of my all-time favorite bands. It’s not really like any of their songs, specifically, just a little of that vibe (and if I ever do a studio recording, I will use a Rickenbacker guitar). It needs to be 99% me, or why bother making it? So I played it at an open mic one night, and someone told me it reminded them a little of R.E.M. I took that as a high complement. But imagine the guy who’s playing an actual R.E.M. song and claiming it their own — that’s kind of what this first guy did here, in photographic terms. Not the actual “performance” (the final product), but the essential elements that lead to that performance were ripped off directly from Joel Robinson.

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  6. Amanda Jehle

    I love the world map photo. That is far & away my favorite. I really do love the “story-book” composites; they are not my personal style, but they make me think like a kid again. I don’t want to know how he does them, then I might lose that wondrous “I believe” feeling that I get when I page through his work. :)

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  7. Thomas Horton

    Perhaps he needs to work on conceptualizing a level horizon. :)

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  8. J. Dennis Thomas

    Is this the guy that got his images completely copied by an Indian photographer that put out a book?

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  9. Brandon Dewey

    great images!

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