Taking Care of Business… with Ben Johnson

We’re passing the mic to some of our favorite freelancers who make Wingspan’s community thrive, and who remind us every day that there are no wrong ways to take care of business. Want to be featured? Submit yourself here!

Ben Johnson is a commercial photographer, videographer, producer, and composer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. As the founder of Catch Fire Productions, he creates commercials, social media, portraits, and documentary films. He produced the award-winning documentary “Big Charity,” while his recent Wild Card Hype video for the New Orleans Saints was recently submitted for Emmys award consideration.

In your own words, what do you do?

I'm a videographer and editor. But more than anything, I'm a storyteller. I tell the stories of my clients and subjects through film.

Where do you call home?

New Orleans has been home for the past 13 years.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I take my dog Domino outside for a walk, and then start making my morning pot of coffee.

What’s your favorite thing about freelancing?

I love having the choice to choose the projects I work on and the freedom to create my own work schedule. I can't be too picky with projects, but finding the ones I'm passionate about make the work a joy.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Understand the things you can't control, and focus on the things you can control.

What’s your biggest challenge as an independent professional?

My biggest challenge as an independent professional is project management. The juggling act of acquiring new clients and projects in the future with the day to day work at the moment is not easy. Keeping workflow consistent is a challenge when I'm occupied with current projects, but it's also a struggle to make sure I'm not overloading myself with too many projects at once.

What’s your favorite freelance project you’ve worked on?

I recently shot a documentary filmed called Mossville: When Great Trees Fall. It took me to places I never knew existed and introduced me to some of the most incredible people I've ever met. It was one of the more rewarding projects I've worked on. It's currently streaming on PBS. (Watch it here.)

What’s your best hot take / unpopular opinion?  

All of Beyoncé's songs sound the same.

What do you wish you’d known 10 years ago?

I wish I'd realized the importance of saving money.

Most iconic work role model?

Kenya Barris. He does it all: writes, produces, directs.

How do you deal with difficult clients?

Patience and communication are key with difficult clients. I've found that being overly communicative is always best so you know exactly what your clients want and they know what to expect from you. If issues come up, do your best to understand where the clients are coming from and communicate remedies.

What—or who—is your go-to source for inspiration?


Best workday lunch?


What’s your anthem?

I don't know Karate, but I know Ka-razy!

What is the best tip you have for folks venturing out on their own?

Reach out to anyone and everyone about your new venture. You never know who will lead you to your next gig. Cast a wide net and you are bound to catch something.

What’s your email sign off?

It changes based on the subject and who I'm writing to, but most of the time it's "I look forward to talking with you."

Where can people find you?

www.catchfirepro.com  and  @benyays on Instagram.

Want to be our next featured freelancer? Submit here!

While you focus on doing the work you love, Wingspan takes care of the rest, from invoicing to bookkeeping. Sign up for a free 30-day trial here.

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