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Meet Jody Miller

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jody Miller. 

Hi Jody, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
It seems I’ve always held a camera in my hands since I was about 9 years old and was gifted a Box Brownie from my parents. Since my parents were both fine artists, I started out by drawing and painting, and now when I make an image, I think with a painter’s approach to the subject. Photography has always been the medium that speaks best for me, so I have always been a fine art photographer. I got serious in 1982 when I was accepted into Ansel Adams’ workshop in Carmel and studied with some of the great photographers of the day. It was a turning point that focused my desire to make more and better images every day. Forty years later, that desire has never flagged. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest stumbling block for my work has been printing. I realized early on that I don’t enjoy printing, and I’m not particularly good at it. Back in the 1980s, I nearly put down the camera for good when my prints did not reflect the image I saw in my mind’s eye. But one of my mentors and teachers wisely advised me to “just use a good lab.” And that little piece of advice has stuck with me to this day. I do not print my own work now but use a master printer and good friend as a partner in producing my work, and it has paid off well in prints that mirror my intent. It’s a great way to work and frees me to do what I love best, being out shooting and making the images. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I spent my whole adult professional life, 45 years, working in television in Los Angeles as a graphic designer and animator. This melded beautifully with my favorite hobby, photography. I was an art director, special effects director, and animator/editor for other designers. I have been nominated for an Emmy in design and won some other visual effects awards over the years. Since I retired in 2016, I have traveled extensively across the United States and abroad, taking my camera with me and making art. 

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
The role of photography in our culture has dramatically shifted over the last decade and will continue to evolve in ways I cannot even predict. Everyone has a camera in his or her hands all the time now, and images flood our social media relentlessly. The “democratization” of photography has been both a good and bad thing. Good because the mystery and toil has been taken out of the process, and making a decent image is possible for anyone. Bad, because so much “bad” imagery also floods our lives every day, and it’s hard to remember what really makes a good photograph good. For me, the print is the final product, and great photographers will continue to print their work and share it that way since digital images are “vapor” and will all disappear eventually. There is nothing like holding a fine print in your hands; it’s a piece of craft that is necessary to the fine art process and impossible to see properly on a screen. 

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