Esther Johnson is an artist and filmmaker whose research practice explores documentary portraiture through moving image, audio and photography.

She studied for an MA at the Royal College of Art, London, and for a BA (Hons) at Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2008 she was nominated for the UK Northern Art Prize and in 2012 she won the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Visual & Performing Arts for young scholars.

In her work, Johnson unearths extraordinary, resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored, often focusing on the underdog in contemporary culture. Recurring themes include personal histories, heritage, tradition, folklore, regeneration and precarious futures. Her films and photography explore architectural vernaculars and the inhabited environment, intimately conveying the uneasy relationship between her protagonists and their respective surroundings. Minutely composed and paced imagery is juxtaposed with soundscapes that mix voiceovers with field recordings.

Her films and photography have been exhibited internationally in over 40 countries in galleries and art fairs. Her work has appeared on television and in adapted versions for radio, and her writing has featured in arts publications.

In addition to her practice, Johnson is an independent film and video curator, and is former Director and Curator of Hull Film and its Hull International Short Film Festival. She is a Reader in Media Arts, and Principal Lecturer in Film and Media Production within Sheffield Institute of Arts at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. Additional workshops have been delivered in Hull, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Bangkok (Thailand) and Buffalo, New York State (USA).