No better example of aesthetic photography can be found than the fact that Johnston was chosen a member of the jury for the 1899 Philadelphia Photographic Society exhibit. The Philadelphia show a year earlier had pointed a new direction in photographic standards, a concentration on the “artistic quality of the photograph.” The jury was composed of Alfred Stieglitz, another photographer, and three painters. Significantly, the 1899 jury that included Johnston was composed of the five photographers [shown in the accompanying tintype].

As Jerald C. Maddox of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress pointed out, the 1899 jury was “the first all photographer jury to judge a major photographic exhibition. This was a revolutionary step that not only suggested that photographers might be esthetically sensitive, but also implied that … they might be the equals of artists in the traditional media.”