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Meet Justine Johnson of Piquant Photo in Rhode Island & Greater Boston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justine Johnson.

Justine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always walked a fine line between creative dreamer and ambitious entrepreneur. I am first the sensitive artist – introspective with a quiet sense of anxiety; but then there’s the other side of me: the motivated, inquisitive, always-busy hustler who just wanted to feel and taste success (whatever that means).

I joined the advertising world shortly after graduating college, working in my first big-girl corporate marketing job for a Fortune 500 company in RI and then on to creative ad agencies in Boston. I learned how to be a professional, how to fail and succeed, and how to talk to clients. I learned about the creative process, what that looks like from the inside-out, and how that correlates to every ad and every message we consume on a daily basis.

And while I worked at my exhaustive but lucrative job in the city, I took to my passion as an outlet: photography. I worked independent gigs, created strong relationships with other artists and clients, designed a brand for myself, and worked my ass off to fill my spare time with art and some extra cash.

Eventually, I reached a point where I felt I needed to tip the scales, so I moved back to RI, took a pay cut and a better marketing job downtown – which ironically, was more suited to achieving a dream that always seemed just slightly out of reach. Now, I would be one step closer.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I try to look at everything with a positive outlook – meaning if something sucks, I’ll try to learn from it. Otherwise I’d drive myself crazy. I used to be the kind of person who would dwell on a screw-up but the lovely people in my life and many self-help books have taught me that the energy spent on stewing could be used to create an opportunity. You’ll receive the frequency you send out.

I see it as a trifecta: As a photographer, you’re a small business owner and the struggle to find paid work is real. As a client service professional, you’re always on – you have to be willing to jump on a last minute gig without notice. And as an artist, anything less than perfection won’t do.

Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and find a way to improve.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Piquant Photo story. Tell us more about the business.
Piquant Photo is a photography brand designed to channel the inner badass. Everyone has one, so why hide?

Whether it’s portraits, fashion, boudoir (and what I sometimes call “Sexy Self Care”), weddings, or weird conceptual collaborations, I want to make it interesting.

I think people are beautiful and complicated creatures who are best understood when studied in art. I like empowering my subjects to see the camera as a conduit to seeing something in themselves. I like the exploratory nature of photography, where I, as the photographer, can either interact or observe a subject and freeze time. And then witnessing those moments of true authenticity, it’s not only the product I like to share but the experience.

Simply put, I’m a big ol’ nerdy hippie for this stuff. The philosophy of my art is a main driver in what I do. I like to believe that photography is my superpower – the ability to freeze time and make pretty things – and when I can share it with someone, good vibes all around.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
That’s tough. I’m still not sure I believe in pure luck. Good things happen and bad things happen, and accepting things outside of your control is an incredibly hard thing to learn.

But what I do believe in is opportunity.

I’m fortunate to have a very supportive network, which has opened doors for me and has enabled me to grow. And I live by the saying “your attitude determines your direction”. Admittedly, I have to keep myself in check every so often. I’ve learned to act on what is present and just try to keep an open mind about everything.


  • Portraits/Headshots: 1 hour session/2 looks/20 hi-res digital files – $250
  • Fashion/Lifestyle: 2 hour session/3 looks/40 hi-res digital files – $475
  • Boudoir/Sexy Self Care: 2 hour session/2 looks/40 hi-res digital files – $500

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Out loud Theatre

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