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Bill Johnson
  • Male
  • Avarua, Rarotonga
  • Cook Islands
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Born in Pomona, California and lived in the South Pacific from a very young age in the 1950's. I have spent most of my life on the South Seas island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
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About Me:
I moved to the South Pacific with my parents in 1950. First of all living in Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia... long before Hollywood and the making of the 2nd 'Mutiny on the Bounty' movie about Capt. William Bligh’s crew of H.M.S. Bounty along with tales of tropical South Seas beauty and the warm nature of the Polynesian people. Tourism and development in the South Pacific had truly not started at this stage. From Tahiti, we moved to Pago Pago, American Samoa; Apia, Western Samoa; Suva, Fiji; Rarotonga, Cook Islands where we lived for 18 months; Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia; London, England and Glasgow, Scotland. From there we moved back to Southern California living in El Monte before moving to San Blas, Mexico which was a small fishing village north of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. From there we moved to Mazatlan before going back to Southern California. I ended up by going to school all over the world before finally having five continuous years of schooling in Banning, California. In 1961 we moved back to Rarotonga as my mother had totally fallen in love with the South Pacific 'Way of Life,' the Polynesian people and the island of Rarotonga itself. My second time back to Rarotonga was a BIG culture shock after coming from Southern California High School in the early 60's, rock & roll and of course 'Elvis'. I was virtually miles from nowhere… 634 miles to the southwest from Tahiti and 1634 miles from New Zealand and almost totally cut-off from the outside world. I was missing high school, classmates, football, basketball, baseball and all the other sports that I use to play, I wasn't even concern with graduation. With that in mind, I shipped-out on an inter island schooner to get some sea-time so I could join up with the New Zealand Merchant Navy and try to return to the United States. Eight months of very hard work on inter-island trading sailing ships which allowed me visit almost all of the 15 Cook Islands, American Samoa and Fiji once again. However, this time I signed off and flew to Auckland and joined the New Zealand Seamen’s Union where I shipped out and traveled totally around New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific i.e. Rarotonga, Tahiti, Apia and Pago Pago once again. Tonga in the Friendly Islands, the Fijian Islands, and Niue (pronounced /ˈnjuːeɪ/ new-ay. A Far East trip i.e. Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Burma, India, and Sri Lanka before returning to New Zealand via Sydney. With time slipping away, I had traveled the world on cargo and passenger ships for nearly 10 years. While living in Sydney in 1968 my father passed away and my mother asked me to return to Rarotonga and help run the family photographic business and in doing so, I become a self-educated renowned International Professional Photographer, photographing many well-known people like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Lord Louis Mountbatten the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma who 7 years later was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1979; "piped" on-board the H.M. Royal Yacht "Britannia". Owner operator of Johnson's' Photographic Studio; two Duty-Free Store's in Rarotonga, Fine Jewelry Consultant GIA (Hons):- Diamonds, Gemstones, Quality Gold Jewelry and Pearls. Sales Consultant for Holiday Resorts in Fiji, N.Z. & Australia; Senior Investment Property Consultant in Auckland, N Z and consultant for Investment Properties on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Lived in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Perth, Western Australia. Married to a 'Kiwi' with grown up children. Interest: "America's Cup" which we lost to another 'kiwi crew' sailing for the 'Swiss;' money talks and ’The Cup’ has a very interesting history. Rarotonga is home and maybe one day, I will retire there. 'Thank you' for viewing and reading what I have posted so far and I hope you enjoyed it.
Favorite travel destination:
South Pacific
Photography, is a powerful medium of expression, communication and time. Good photographs not only display the facts but they truly tell a story, and they also manage to share one's feelings with an audience afterwords. Photography is the art of freezing time plus the ability to store and capture emotion, feelings and it does it all within a split second. Photographs shows the emotions of the photographer that he/she was experiencing at that point of event. Being a photographer is not always easy, in fact, at times it can be extremely hard work. A photographer needs to find the perfect time and the perspective and even more so, when you're on special assignments like Royal Tours, State functions, news evens and other VIP visits. More times the photographer only gets one chance at capturing the moment.During my time as a photographer in Rarotonga, I met some really interesting people and under normal outside world circumstances, I would never have been given the privilege to photograph them nor to personally greet and meet them, and In some cases, even talk to them.To achieve and accomplish good photography, one needs to have a lot of practice and sometimes hours of patience. The results can be truly satisfying and even stunning at times once you see the results. Needless to say, it can be very rewarding to the photographer at the end of the day as it was in the case of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II knighting Albert Henry.Photography is a way of touching, and loving what you do. What a photographer catches during the moment, it is captured forever... photographs remembers the little things in life, long after you and I may have forgotten it.In saying that, I hope you enjoy my photographic work, as much as I enjoyed taking the photographs. Thank You.

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Comment Wall (4 comments)

At 7:43am on February 28, 2011, Marts said…
All of your pictures are so wonderful, I'm sure it was quite an honour to be photographer for such an auspicious event...
At 5:15am on March 7, 2011, Marts said…
Looking forward to seeing those... I really enjoy photos that depite historical events (one of the reasons I became a NatGeo collector)...
At 8:08pm on December 11, 2014, Scott T. Shier said…

How neat that your photo is sought after for a wonderful retrospective! That's wonderful and I'd love to see the follow-up to their plans. Best,

 - Scott S.

At 7:22pm on November 3, 2015, Karen Turner said…

Hi Bill,

I was wondering if you had an email address I can contact you on? I am a research assistant for Dr. Kalissa Alexeyeff (University of Melbourne) and she is seeking permission to use one of your images for a book she is working on. If you have an email address, I can email further details about the project and details of the image/s she is seeking to use.

Kind regards, Karen Turner (

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Bill Johnson's Blog

Professional Photographer Bill Johnson

Posted on October 26, 2005 at 12:00pm 0 Comments

Photography, is a very powerful medium of expression and communication.

Excellent photographs not only display facts — they tell stories, feelings and also manage to share one's feelings with the audience. Photography is the art of freezing time... the ability to store emotion, feelings and it does it within a split second.

A photograph can also show the emotions of the photographer that he or she was experiencing at the time.

Being a professional…



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