Who is Johnny? He moved to Ottawa in the first grade and spent his youth there with his three siblings. His mom was an English teacher at the Junior High School and his dad was Dean of Education at Ottawa University. Having two educators in the family gave him the creative foundation he thrived on. He and his brother were allowed to draw and write on the walls of his bedroom and you should have seen the murals they created! Van Gogh, look out!
Photography was in Johnny’s blood. He seemed to be born with the gene. In Boy Scouts the ONLY (haha!) merit badge John earned was Photography. He still has the pinhole camera he made in order to earn that badge. It sits on his desk as I write this. Many photos of John from his youth show a camera strapped around his neck. Ask John why he wanted to be a photographer. He will tell you he still remembers that significant moment in his life, that moment when you gain new insight, some tidbit of information about something you didn’t know before. You don’t realize it at that time, but at that moment, your life will take a different path… destiny being fulfilled. Your life takes a fork in the road and new trails are blazed.
For little Johnny, that moment was a field trip he took with the Boy Scouts to OK Photo in Ottawa. Imagine a dozen boys gathered around the photographer in the dark room. Fascinated, he watched as the photographer placed the 8x12 paper into the developing solution. Right before his eyes, the image came to life from what was a seemingly blank piece of paper. Swish, swish, swish, wha-laa, a scene of downtown Ottawa in the tray. To this day, John still remembers the image he first saw developed. He also remembers the profound feeling he experienced that day. He had found his passion.
Soon after the infamous field trip, John hurried down to the local photography studio owned by Bill Wright. He knew that was where he wanted to be, and he didn’t even care whether or not he was paid for his services. He was offered a job cleaning up and John took it. He knew he would find a way into the dark room eventually! Sure enough, Bill saw something special in Johnny, or maybe it was just a gleam in his eye, or possibly it was just a means to make him shut up! Whatever the reason, Bill finally took John under his wing and taught him the ropes. Eventually, John bought out the studio and equipment. Gladman Studio was born.
Wright Studio mixed their own darkroom developers from various raw chemicals. It was never premixed packages. This was probably one of the few remaining studios in the world to do this. How fascinating! John still has the book of hand written recipes that were handed down to Bill Wright. He keeps it in a safe place, so you will have to ask him to see it!
Ok, so what makes a good photographer? What makes a great one? What makes a Master Photographer who sits among the top 50 photographers in an organization of 20,000? Well, I’m glad you asked! Let me explain. At the age of 16, the first camera Johnny was taught on was a Linhof 5x7. So what? Let’s break it down. In this camera, each film holder held two shots. Snap, take the picture, remove the holder and then flip it over for the second shot. John was allowed three holders per session. Those were the days when each shot counted. You only had one chance to catch the look, the pose, the smile, the moment, THE shot. One chance. John was expected to get each pose right the first and only time each shot was taken. Crop someone’s head off and paste it into another picture? WHAT? That was not an option back in those days. Photography was an art, a craft, something to be respected. You had to pay attention to posing, lighting, expressions, each and every detail. If you ask John about lighting, which is his specialty, he will tell you he constantly studies light… the contrast values between highlights and shadows, the way the sun moves across the sky and the best time of day to take a scenic picture, the reflections of light rays across a subject’s face.
This brings us to today. John is two merit prints away from being one of the top 30 merit holders in the world. It would be his second Excellence in Imaging Award. John doesn’t like to brag. He does proudly display his awards around the studio because he has worked hard for them! Ask him about them and then you will get the stories out of him. He has been asked to create portraits for world dignitaries, local celebrity coaches, NBA basketball players and CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. John has worked for Strauss-Peyton and photographed many celebrities at that time. Celebrities have to look good, they are constantly in the limelight, so they find talented photographers like John to take their picture. Don’t you think you deserve the best photographer as well? I want you to know who is behind the camera. It’s John Gladman!
He is truly an amazing artist. He connects with his subject. You can put him and another photographer in the same room, the same subject, background, lighting, time frame and snap, snap they both take the picture. Guess what? Johnny’s will be better! Oh, I know, you don’t believe me. Can you give me this… two artists who paint in the same room, same subject, same lighting will paint two different pictures? Yes, it’s true! Why is photography any different? Let me say it again. John CONNECTS with the subject. It’s a soul, energy thing, but that’s another story and this story is already too long.
So what does all this matter to you? Some day, you are going to need a professional photographer. There are lots of ‘em to choose from and new photographers are cropping up every day. What is important to you when choosing one? Price? Personality? Quality? Location? Probably all of those things. Why should you choose John? These are your life memories being created. Don’t you want the best person to do this for you? Don’t you want someone to do it who genuinely cares about you, about the craft of photography? Someone who has spent his whole life doing it, yet still seeks to improve? Someone who stays on the cutting edge, even invents new techniques? Someone whom other photographers admire and even go to for advice, friendship and training? John will tell you it isn’t just a picture, it’s a memory. He has taken pictures of families where one family member soon passed away after the sitting. That family will cherish that image forever and they are so happy they have a lasting, beautiful, priceless image.
So what does Johnny want? Not much, he simply wants to create and make the world and the people in it a little more beautiful. Is that asking too much? He doesn’t think so.