Johnson was born in Harlem, New York City and heard his calling to the Fine Arts at an early age. As a youth he spent many hours in the public libraries and museums studying the works of the great masters, motivated by his love of their work.
Among his favorites were the painters of the Renaissance. He also spent abundant amounts of time studying the Flemish masters and Art Nouveau.
His odyssey as a visual artist, however, didn’t begin until his late twenties when he decided on a whim to enroll in a community college video production class. It was while attending this class that his earlier studies came to the fore, and he realized that he had some natural talent for composition and camera work. He prevailed on his father to lend him three hundred and fifty dollars to buy his first camera. Shortly afterward, he moved to Martha’s Vineyard Island, where he taught himself the art of photography.
He has traveled and photographed many American states, the Caribbean, Europe, Cuba, and Thailand. A full-time artist since 2001, Michael currently splits his time between San Francisco’s colorful mission district, and Martha’s Vineyard Island. He runs his eponymously named Michael Johnson Photo Gallery during the summer months. His photographic works cover a diverse range of subjects and styles, all focusing on the oneness of humanity.