Joel Robison – A Fantasy World

Enter the amazing fantasy world of created by Joel Robison! Recently returning from his world tour as the lead photographer for Coca-Cola’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, Joel sits down late at night from is home in England to share his thoughts and inspirations.

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Joel Robison

(from Joel’s website – go here for his write-up.

Joel Robison
Joel RobisonLead photographer -2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour
My name is Joel Robison and I’m a 29 year old photographer based out of Cranbrook, British Columbia. I’ve actively been involved in the photography community for the past 6 years and consider myself to be a conceptual portrait photographer. I’ve always loved the fantasy world created by the minds of Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, Jim Henson and many more and I enjoy putting whimsical elements inspired by these role models into my own work. I often try to tell a story within my photographs that allows the viewer to experience an emotion, create their own story, or experience a glimpse into my own ideas and dreams. I strongly believe in sending a positive message through art and in summer of 2013 I, along with 2 fellow photographers, created a non-profit workshop tour that took us across the United States over 2 months, teaching a portrait workshop to over 100 students. I’ve recently hired by Coca-Cola to participate as the lead photographer in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, capturing happiness in 90 countries over a 9 month period. I got my start in photography due to a project called the 365 project, where I took a self portrait every day for a year. I think that self portraiture is an amazing way to express your emotions, your ideas, dreams and goals in a visual format and I still enjoy the art of creating with myself.



Joel RobisonWebsite / Flickr / YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Blog


  • Intro Questions:

    • How did you get into photography?

      • My brothers had the athletic jean and I did not…always enjoyed creating and drawing but was unable to draw.  Thought I wouldn’t have a creative side but after a photography class in High School and later Flickr I purchased a camera and went full force into photography.

    • Are you currently working as a full time photographer?

      • Last six years in school system in Canada and moved full time into photography.  Working with children with Learning Disabilities. 

      • Shooting with ca-Cola helped me transition into F/T Photography

    • Do you shoot other subjects, like weddings, seniors, etc?

      • Mostly conceptual work…some portrait shoots for family and friends.  I believe that others do it really well and leave the portraits to them…stick mainly to the work I know how to perform.


  • Creative & Editing Process:

    • Business versus Creative side?

      • I am fine with the creative side but always find myself taxed on the business side…organization skills need to improve

    • Your scenes are very creative like a fairytale, where do you find the inspiration?

      • I am a very visual person.  Able to translate conversations and ideas into pictures…as people talk I get a glimpse of what I want to do with a shoot.  I like to take objects from everyday and work with them to show “everything is possible”. 

    • What do you find more challenging, the creative or the technical (editing) when creating a scene?

      • Depends on the image…tend to rush the shooting part, especially when shooting in public.  Photoshop is the time of the “mad scientist” and good through the photo to create. 

      • Photoshop – trial and error and learned via the internet.  Tried to use Photoshop the way I wanted and ended up learning as I went.

    • How do you stay true to your style and still keep it new and not repetitive?

      • Fine line between being stuck in the same style versus an image being my own…it is the ultimate compliment to have someone look at a photo and know it is one of mine.

    • Have you had shoots that just didn’t work?

      • Yes…definitely…several 365 projects of a photo per day.  Sometimes I try to force through Photoshop but the pictures never see the light of day.  It is important to take the photos to know the difference between what is good and what isn’t so good…makes you more critical

    • Most of the images have you in the image, do you do the shoots alone or with assistance?

      • No assistant (even though an article was written stating the opposite).  I shoot using a remote and sometimes it is the 20 second dash. 

    • How do you find a market for your images?

      • License pretty much all images through two agencies.  They will get the work published internationally.  Also utilizing Social Media I have been able to market my photos.

    • Any artificial lighting to your scenes?

      • Natural light for my photographs…have not used strobes.  Living in the UK know with overcast days has helped because there are few harsh shadows.  You are more likely to notice more of the world this way…when will the sun go down, will it rain, helps determine where your shadows are going to be.  You are more likely to know your surroundings, 

    • Tell us about the creative process to your scene?

      • How much is from the camera and how much from editing?

      • When shooting, are you seeing the end result (ie after the PS edit) in your mind and shooting that way?

    • Do you use anything like a Wacom tablet?

      • Yes, makes life a lot easier with compositing


  • Projects:

    • Tell us about the 365 day projects you have done.

      • Ability to go out and take photos everyday.  You realize that this is difficult as there are challenges such as weather that affect what you are able to do. 

    • Tell us about being the Lead photographer for the 2014 Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour

      • Coca-Cola found me via Flickr…shooting coke bottles in the snow

      • Received  a call out of the blue to be chosen to be the lead photographer…started September 9, 2013 through the end of April 2014.  Visited 85 countries and spent a lot of time with the FIFA World Cup Trophy

      • Started moderating the Coca-Cola Flickr account


  • Personal:

    • Gear

      • Canon Mark II, now I switched completely to a Sony A99

      • Photoshop CS5.1 – utilize my own Actions

    • In your flickr albums there are several labeled Meetup, tell us more about these?  How are they organized and by who?  Cost?

      • Started organically…photographers wanting to get together after talking to each other online.  At the time many of us were living near each other and twenty-five of us met up in Indiana.  First time most of us every met conceptual photographers and it created a little of magic to become creative.  We have now had additional meetups with photographer around the world.

    • You are moving soon to a new country, that sounds both exciting and scary.  Do you think a move like this actually can be inspiring from a creative standpoint?

      • Yes…it helped with the creative process

    • What does Joel do when he is not shooting or creating?

      • Keeping tabs on my new location (UK) to explore

      • People have offered and taken me around…last week a ruined Abbey built a thousand years ago

      • Enjoy running, drinking coffee and listening to music


  • Wrap Up:

    • What advice would you have for a new photographer wanting to shoot things other than the standard weddings, seniors, etc?

      • Find what separates you from everyone else…takes time to find that “thing” that separates you…be the only one and the best

    • What mistakes did you make they could learn from?

      • Being organized…responding to emails quickly.  Biggest regrets are missing out on opportunities because I may not have responded quickly enough.  Great to be creative but without work it doesn’t mean much

    • What location have you not shot in, but would love to some day?

      • Everyday I mentally add to my list…if I close my eyes I would love to shoot at Disneyland by myself.  I have had the opportunity to go around the world and have seen some quite spectacular places. 

    • What’s next for Joel?

      • Moving to UK was the biggest planning for myself.  I usually look to live in the present.  Want to continue to do what I am doing.  Would love to work with Coca-Cola and FIFA in the future again.

    • Where can people learn more about Joel and stay informed about your projects?

      • Links at top of page

    • Boy Wonder?

      • Phrase from a song I like from a Canadian Singer

Joel’s “Flood a Room” tutorial mentioned during the show:



Images displayed during the show:


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Joel Robison



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