John Simmons was born and raised in Chicago, at the height of the politically charged 1960’s. His talent as a photographer was identified and nurtured by Robert “Bobby” Sengstacke. In 1969 Bobby received an artist in residence at Fisk University and presented John’s work to David Driskell and John was given a scholarship. It was a life changing experience where John studied with Carlton Moss, Aaron Douglass, Earl Hooks, Martin Puryer, Stephine Pogue and Greg Ridley. His next educational milestone was receiving a scholarship and attending graduate school at The University of Southern California with support from Carlton Moss, to study cinematography.
John has worked behind the camera since the early 1970’s shooting documentaries with film director Carlton Moss. He then moved to music videos, commercials and features. He was an Adjunct Professor in the Television/Film and Theater Department at UCLA for twenty-five years and continues to mentor many up and coming cinematographers. He has been a member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) since 2004, serving as a Vice President in 2017 and 2018. John Simmons, ASC and has had a prolific career as both a still photographer and cinematographer. Simmons earned an Emmy for his work on Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, another two nominations for his work on Pair of Kings, and a third for Family Reunion.
John Simmons has continued to carry a still camera everyday and has photographs in the permanent collections at The Getty Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, High Museum of Fine Art, Houston Museum of Fine Art, University of Maryland’s David C. Driskell Center, Wesley and Missy Cochran Foundation, The Center for Creative Photography at The University of Arizona and The Museum of Contemporary Photography of Chicago.