World of One: Stand Together

Stand Together - Line of Asian men in dark suits with one black man in a light suit kneeling.
Stand Together
24″ x 36″
edn: 5

In America, Asians are known as the “Model Minority.” But growing up here, I’ve always looked at how society treats black people as the real “Model Minority.” Because there ain’t shit they can do to us, that hasn’t been done to them. With this piece, I wanted to show my support for their struggle, and to say that “Even if your back is against the wall, I stand with you.” This is an image that has haunted my mind for years. One that I deeply regretted not shooting it during the civil rights protests last summer. Although after finally seeing it come to fruition now, I think there’s still a lot of untapped potential.

There are many firsts here for me with this image. This is the first World of One I’ve shot, where I purposely chose flat lighting, and a standard aspect ratio. This is also the first time I’ve even included another person in one of my mainline World of One entries. In general I like the World of One images to be long because of their original inspiration. I also like compositions with more of a dynamic flow to it, usually favoring more dramatic lighting. I chose not to follow either of my usual tendencies because this time I wanted to present both sides of the action (standing/kneeling) as equals.

I originally planned on just using myself in this image, as I do with the other World of One entries. But something about it just seemed problematic in my mind. Finally earlier this week I realized that if I’m going to do a BLM themed shoot. It totally defeats the purpose if I omit black people from the image. So I called up my fellow artist and longtime friend Ivan Cofield (who you might recognize from some of my previous BBoy Monster shoots) to help me with this collaboration. 

All proceeds from this image will go towards purchasing work from black artists and supporting black organizations. If you’re looking to support my work more generally so I can make more things like this, here’s how you can help.


  1. This is very dramatic and poignant. Your instincts were spot on in including your friend Ivan. Great work Johnny!

  2. Good evening! I am an aspiring graphic designer and I am currently in school and learning photography. One of our assignments is to emulate a professional. I always try to research as many artists and designers as possible, but there’s a different spirit in the work of a minority artist, and I am glad that I found you! If I can ask a question about this photo, I was just curious as to why there are 4 men standing around the man that is kneeling. From my perspective, it appears protective. But then the kneeling man is offset from the center and he is the only one kneeling. So, he is alone, but then he is not alone. If I’m making any sense. I know that art is supposed to be in the eye of the beholder, but I saw the box here and figure I would ask if you had the time to respond.

    • Hi Katrina, thanks so much for reaching out. Please read the text underneath the image to get a better sense of what my intentions are in making it.


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