ARTS: Her Throne Was Magic

Written by Heide Brandes in the January 2013 Issue

The light filters down through the trees in a golden glow, bathing the young queen on her throne with luminosity as she holds court in the grass to an adoring crowd of stuffed animals.

Brittany Johnson for Project Imagination

She’s a benevolent queen, well-loved by her subjects who gaze up at her with button eyes and furry faces. At least, that’s what Edmond photographer Brittany Johnson envisioned with her photograph, “Her Throne Was Magic.”

The photo is magic too. After Johnson submitted the photograph for director and producer Ron Howard’s “Project Imagination,” world-renowned fashion designer and director Georgina Chapman chose her submission as the basis of a short film she will direct.

For the Edmond resident, being part of the new national short film project was as magical as the subject of her photo. “It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Johnson. “After I saw a banner ad about the contest on YouTube, I submitted the photo. I got an email months later that said I was picked, but I thought it was a fake scam, because they asked for my social security number. I had been a victim of a scam recently, so I sent back a nasty email and told them it wasn’t funny.”

She also called Canon USA, a partner in the “Project Imagination” contest and the “Long Live Imagination” initiative with Ron Howard. “They made it clear that the email was legitimate. I was chosen. It was quite an amazing feeling, and I really didn’t know what would happen next,” Johnson said.

The contest accepted photos for ten themes. After the first round, each theme narrowed the field to 30 photographs to be voted on by the public. When the field was down to 10 photos in each theme, celebrities like Jamie Foxx, Eva Langoria, Georgina Chapman, James Murphy and Twitter-founder Biz Stone chose the winning photos.

Johnson’s photograph, which features her friend’s daughter as the subject, was a winner in the character theme. The photo will be made into a short film and will be featured in the Project Imagination Film Festival this summer. Overall, ten films will be made—five directed by celebrities and five directed by aspiring, undiscovered directors.

Brittany JohnsonJohnson, who lived in Norman but moved to the small town of Crescent when she was a teen, found her love of photography while exploring the outdoor world of dogs, cats, cows and landscape on her grandparents’ farm. “I was surrounded by country and I was an only child. I would daydream all day. I ran around and caught frogs, and I had a huge imagination. I talked to myself in the woods,” Johnson said. “I’ve always wanted to portray a world that we wished we lived in. I want to have magic in my images and underlying meanings that you can take from it.”

Johnson started her own photography business in Edmond two years ago, and she specializes in artistic and portrait photography. Her passion is to change the world and she wants to do humanitarian work in Africa through her photography. “I want to show the world what’s going on there through images,” she said. “I want my photography to have an impact, but also have a magical twist so you remember those kids in the pictures.”

Project Imagination debuted last year as a partnership between Howard and Canon. In its first year, more than 96,000 photos were submitted. Last year, Broken Arrow native Chris Wehner was one of the winning photographers.

For more on Project Imagination, visit To see Brittany Johnson’s work, visit

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