Award-winning Children’s Book Photographer Kelly Johnson chats about the process of self-publishing her new book Gratitude. A beautiful book for all who love celebrating spring. 



First of all, I think outside the box. Wait, just a darn minute. There is no box. I know there are rules to every game, including the publishing game. But I thought I’d take a chance, self-publish, and figure out the rules. I was so raw to self-publishing, and I didn’t have any preconceptions. I jumped right in because the water was warm. I had no idea the process would keep me awake at night. And that my thoughts would overwhelm me. I was constantly thinking about what words I would write and what photos to use. Who will edit my words and my photos? I learned about self-publishing the hard way, and I’m grateful.

The making of Gratitude was a labor of love. My heart was involved. I felt I needed to express my feelings in words and photographs without the almighty dollar as the fundamental factor. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted my book, Gratitude, to sell, but I also wanted my voice to resound and my photography to shine brighter than the day before. There were days a voice chanted inside my head you got this. You know you got this! Every once in a while, another voice inside whispered, you’re in over your head. I shut that voice down immediately.

Here's how it started. I went outside for my daily walk, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was spring, the pandemic of 2020, and my mood was optimistic. I focused on hope and new beginnings. My heart began to race, my joy started to sprint, and my smile surged. With my camera in hand, I began to photograph everything about spring. I thought I’ll photograph spring and all of its glory.

 When I returned home, I began writing notes. Documenting my walk, my feelings about spring, and my relationship with my mother. Immediately, I knew I would write and photograph a beautiful spring book celebrating my mother and springtime. I will honor my mother with words; spring flowers and her pithy sayings. I will title my book Gratitude.



© 2022 Kelly Johnson on photography and text.

The Making of Gratitude is a five-part series. Tune in July 31, 2022 for part 2.

Till then go photograph something!

 Kelly Johnson



July 29, 2022 — Kelly Johnson

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