Simmons won the Best Cinematography Emmy® for the Nickelodeon multi-camera series Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn and has three additional Emmy nominations. He has worked behind the camera since the early 1970’s shooting documentaries, music videos, commercials and features. Simmons’s introduction to television began with movies made for TV including The Killing Yard, The Ruby Bridges Story, Selma Lord Selma and numerous independent and network documentaries on PBS, Showtime and HBO. His first multi-camera primetime show was The Hughleys, which began an illustrious career in multi-camera sitcoms. 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 is presently filming shows for Netflix.
John studied art at Fisk University and cinematography at the University of Southern California. He served as vice president of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) in 2017 and 2018. His photographs are in the permanent collections at the Harvard Art Museum, High Museum of Fine Art, Houston Museum of Fine Art, David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, and the Wesley and Missy Cochran Foundation.