Posted on: 02/04/2013

Return to modeling: Great Falls woman preparing to head back onto runway after a hiatus from the scene

Kristine Johnson as a young woman enjoyed a modeling career that included more than a year living in New York City. Johnson moved to the Big Apple at age 20 from Great Falls. "I just looked up and (saw) all the skyscrapers," Johnson said in an interview. "There were so many people. I got to live in New York City, right below Central Park. I did a couple runway shows." It was an exciting time for Johnson, who also modeled in Miami, San Diego, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She did photo shoots for clients such as Chevrolet, and other automobile, clothing and jewelry companies. She appeared in magazines and catalogs, in HGTV television commercials and on the Home Shopping Network, as well as doing runway shows. "Im lucky to have done the work that I have," Johnson said. "Usually, 5 (feet) 8s the cutoff but Im 5-61/2." She slid by as her height at times was rounded up to 5 feet 7 inches. Modeling was fun while it lasted, but Johnson eventually moved back to Great Falls, her hometown. Fast forward to 2013. Johnson appears once again to be heading back into the modeling business. Three photo shoots with photographer Jim Wells, owner of Jim Wells Photography in Great Falls, in late 2011 and in 2012 helped Johnson to get noticed again. "I have contacts in the business still," Johnson said. "The end of December, they offered to represent me." Coming up later this winter is a shoot that her new agent will use to try to gain bookings for Johnson. "Ill be shooting with a photographer in Seattle," Johnson said. "The shoot will probably last six to seven hours." Johnson has hardly been lounging around while preparing to re-enter the modeling arena. She obtained a personal trainer and is working out an average of more than an hour per day, seven days per week, and she has adopted a strict diet to get back into modeling shape. The one thing she misses most on her new diet is coffee-flavored H´┐Żagen Dazs ice cream. "Ive just got to stay away from all that," Johnson said ruefully. She has lots of support from co-workers and bosses at the Great Falls engineering firm where she works, including Joe Murphy, who is a principal at Big Sky Civil and Environmental Engineering Inc. "If shes able to make a go of it, Im all for it," Murphy said. "If its there, she should jump for it." Wells said he could tell during three photo shoots that Johnson knows the modeling business. "You could tell that she was real comfortable in front of the camera," Wells said. "Its really cool where you get a chance to work with somebody like that. Shes pretty dedicated at getting back into it." It turns out Johnson, daughter of Tom and Sue Johnson of Great Falls, was not the first person in her family to try her hand at a modeling career. "My mom used to be a professional model," said Sue Johnson. The late Louise Perry, Kristines grandmother, was a runway model for fashion designers in New York and Boston in the 1950s and 1960s. And Sue did some runway work herself, modeling childrens clothes from 1956 to about 1963. "We never pushed it," Sue Johnson added. But Kristine as a teenager was a finalist in a Teen Magazine modeling contest and ended up appearing in the magazine in 1995. "That pushed her to keep going," Sue said. Kristine, who at age 35 is now a single mom with three children, said she is "looking forward to the opportunities that may come." "Im excited about it," Kristine said. "Im lucky to be given a second opportunity."