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Photo Funny: Interview with Aaron Johnson

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This week we're launching a monthly interview series featuring people involved in the photography industry. Today, you'll find an interview with Aaron Johnson, the creator of the photo-centric online comic strip What the Duck. Read about his career and inspiration, and see some of his strips after the jump!

Phototuts+: For those who aren't familiar with your work, what is What the Duck?
Aaron Johnson: What the Duck is a photo-centric daily comic strip. The main character is a duck and photographer by profession.

© 2011 Aaron Johnson

Pt+: Your work seems very character-driven. After following What The Duck for a few awhile, you really get to know character's personalities. Are your characters inspired by people you know?
AJ: Some of the characters are inspired by multiple personalities. Some of the characters are vehicles for saying things we wish we could say in the real world.

Pt+: From what I understand, you're not a professional photographer, but work in animation and graphic design. Dealing with clients as a creative profession is often a topic in What The Duck. Do you find inspiration in your own career that translates into strips?
AJ: Some of the inspiration for the strip came from past experiences that I had as a freelancer. More of the comic comes from universal experiences shared by most creative professionals.

© 2011 Aaron Johnson

Pt+: I don't think you spend every day working on a photo-centric comic if you didn't like photography itself. Is there an aspect of photography that you like best?
AJ: 90% of my photography is taking pictures of my kids. I love documenting their lives and hope someday they will too.

Pt+: Creative professionals are having a hard time in our current economy. You often have comics dealing with this issue. Has What The Duck received any response from out-of-work photographers?
AJ: I hear a lot of comments about how many of the strips hit too close to home. Hopefully laughter is the best medicine and I hope there is some comfort readers feel when they see that they're are not the only ones struggling.

© 2011 Aaron Johnson

Pt+: Do you have a favorite web-based comic that we should all be reading?
AJ: I hate to have "favorites" of anything (which drives my wife crazy), but I'll give a shout out to Scott Meyer because he is a great guy and writes the brilliant strip: Basic Instructions.

Pt+: Do you have a favorite photographer?
AJ: Again, I'm going to give my nod to some other great guys (with great blogs): Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, David Hobby.

Pt+: You often exploit common photo debates for material, like the megapixel race, pro vs. amateur, and even brand loyalty. Do you have a favorite photo debate that has amused you the most?
AJ: The "equipment versus user debate" writes itself.

© 2011 Aaron Johnson

Pt+: One of my favorite parts of your site is reading the user-submitted titles for each of your strips. Describe your relationship with your audience.
AJ: I've always tried to maintain a close relationship with my readers and keep WTD an interactive experience. The key to WTD's success has been it's incredibly loyal fan base. It's the readers who put What the Duck on the map. THANK YOU!

Pt+: Can we expect to see any surprises or new characters coming to What The Duck soon?
AJ: Yes, there will be some surprises coming up in the near future. If I told you, they wouldn't be a surprise then : )

© 2011 Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson's comic can be found daily at whattheduck.com. The site also contains an extensive archive of his past strips.

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