Abandoned spaces can speak to many of us. They seem full of the spirits of the past, becoming old souls themselves until they fade into the landscape. Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work and words Jody Miller.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I come from Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of two fine artists, so art has always been an important part of my life. I moved to Los Angeles when I was twenty-two years old and have lived here in LA on and off ever since, working in the television industry as an art director, graphic artist and effects artist and animator for over forty years. Photography has always been a big part of my life, first as a hobby, and now as a full-time pursuit.
How did you get started in photography?
I was given a box Brownie camera at the age of nine, and the interest started there. My father was an avid shooter and taught me some basic things. I got serious about it in my late teens, and I’ve been out “chasing the light” ever since. In 1982, the work got serious when I was accepted into Ansel Adams’ workshop in Carmel, California. That was the turning point, pushing me into a much more ambitious realm. I’ve been a fine art photographer ever since.
Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?
That is a long list. I have intensely studied a lot of other artists’ work online for the last ten years, and have seen as much work in person as I could. I suppose I do have a few favorites. I was influenced early by Marie Cosindas, Olivia Parker, and Jerry Uelsmann; later on by Gregory Crewdson and Robert Polidori. I love the stories in their images. My current fan list includes Susan Burnstine, Mitch Dobrowner, Nick Brandt, and Pentti Sammallahti.
Did you have a mentor?
Absolutely. Arthur Ollman was my teacher for two years following the Ansel Adams workshop, and we have remained friends ever since. He still pushes me and nudges me to this day. He, more than any one person, taught me how to see. I also learned a lot about night photography from this early master of the craft. I am forever in his debt.
Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
There are many, but one of my inspirational favorites is John Wimberley’s, “Descending Angel”. I own a print of it and admire it every day.
If you could spend the day with another photographer living or passed who would it be ?
Oh man that’s a tough question. I think at this moment it would have to be Gregory Crewdson, because I would love to learn from him how he “directs” his huge cinematic images so intricately.
Please tell us about your series Abandoned Farmhouse.
That is one special place. I was introduced to the carpenter gothic farmhouse in rural Indiana by a friend of my sister’s. It was left intact in the mid-1970s, to the best of our knowledge. When I walked inside I knew that there was going to be some serious work done in there. I made three or four visits to the farmhouse over a two-year period. Each time I went in there, it had become more vandalized, more dilapidated. Glad that I started shooting in there when I did. I am still hoping to produce a book about the farmhouse with prose from a wonderful writer friend of mine.
If no one saw your work, would you still create it?
Yes, I am certain that I would. It’s a passion that won’t leave me alone. I do prefer, though, to share my work with the world and I am glad that I can.
Please tell us about your process and what the perfect day for you.
My “process” is to get out with the camera as much as I can. Sometimes I have a place to go, and sometimes I just wander. I have made a few series of photographs that propel me, such as a series of old-fashioned phone booths that I shoot at night. When I hear of a new one, I have to go and find it, because they are rapidly disappearing. The perfect day is a day spent shooting in amazing light conditions, like chasing storms, or meeting fascinating people to photograph. My post processing is fun for me; I usually do some re-lighting in Photoshop, some color and contrast correction . . . it is like “painting with light”. That’s what makes the images come alive for me. I view my work more as painting than as straight photography. There is that painter’s approach that influences all of my work.
What challenges do you face as an artist?
Few, really. I am not too concerned with how my work is “received”. I just make the art because I have to. I just keep shooting. I find that if I am challenged by anything, it is color. I am still working hard at making color “right” for me and for each image that I make.
How do you over come a creative block ?
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced one (smile).
What is next?
I’m headed into the most exciting part of my life right now; that is to devote my life to my art full-time, which has always been my dream. I plan to do as much traveling with my cameras as I possibly can, both on the road and abroad. I’m going to spend three weeks in France for the first time next month and it should be visually stunning. I will probably offer a few workshops in the next couple of years, and I am leading a group of photographers to Cuba at the end of this year, which should be a very exciting trip, fulfilling a longtime wish of mine.
Thank you Jody for sharing your work and words, tomorrow we will bring you the Jody Miller Gallery.
To learn more about Jody Miller please visit her site. Jody Miller
To learn more about John Wimberley please visit his site at, John Wimberley.
Thank you to the photographers that share their work with Rfotofolio.
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