Shutdown

Over the last month I've been a lot smarter about my social networking/ web presence.  I made a livebooks site, David Miller Photoworks, renamed the business to actually reflect my real name and point to the fact that these are artistic photos ("Photoworks"),   I made a facebook fan page which reaches far more people than this blog and now I have a tumblr.  Needless to say it makes this crochety old blog, years in the making, kind of obselete.  Thanks for the memories, DB Miller Photography.  All further updates will be at the aforementioned sources.
Read more

Etsy and the Handmade Photowork

I set up an Etsy shop and, as the aesthetic is vintage or handmade, I took the time to dig through my archives for alternative process and photo-based printmakings to sell in my shop.  I haven't done much of either since I started shooting models last Dec.  There is a creative bug to do handmade stuff and get away from the technology that's ruining my eyesite and making me a stationary blob in a chair.  Below is from last year's Mythological Beasts linocut print series I created out of photomontages... for example, Grendel's jaw is from a lamprey I shot in an aquarium.
I did cyanotypes of a series called Western Zen when I was kind of desperately casting about on how to present the work.  I eventually settled on a book format of black and whites with painted edges, but I have prints from this side avenue.
 I'm always thinking of how to portray mythology in photography, be it via model, photomontaged linocut prints, or Polaroid transfers of stuff I designed in photoshop.  I remember getting this globe ball and snake at Wal Mart for $1 each.  Had to give up on Polaroids when first I lost access to a Polaroid machine that used photos, and then they stopped making Polaroid.
Several of my images from this era are come of random images because the work was initially done for a class.  My alternative process photo instructor was Carol Panaro Smith, a great advocate of handmade imagery.   

Read more

Livebooks + LA

Every year I make a concentrated effort to put together a good portfolio site and it's always a pain deciding what should go up to represent myself, what I think will generate work and what is stuff I am really fond of, and what will give the impression of my style.  The problem lies mainly in my style is all over the map.  Every project I do I try to do a new style for, and every model shoot I try to make unique from all the previous ones.  Anyways after 10 years of this and trying to make sites via namo, blogger, photo.net, fotoblur, etc. I went ahead and did a livebooks site and changed the name of the bizness to my actual name, David Miller Photoworks.  Livebooks sites are versatile, easily accessed from any internet portal, can appear as html mirror sites for smart phones and pad technology (as opposed to the flash site I get on my home computer-- something a lightroom flash web gallery can't do).  Most of their starter sites are $40 a month but I think it is totally worth it.  Anything less professional looking is simply a turn off to potential clients. 

I get a lot of good advice from podcasts and one thing I have picked up on is "present work that relates to what work you want to continue doing."  So, if I have a great image of some dude with a cigar, but I have no interest in shooting, say, an ad for a cigar company, it should go.  I get asked a lot about horror and pinup kinds of shots and both are, to me, the most obvious, least appealing, easiest-to-look-cheap kind of model photography around... although I have shot some pinup and slightly grotesque images that I am pretty proud of!  If I want more work like that, I should present that; if I don't want more work like that, it needs to be edited out in favor of what I do really enjoy.  The main premise is, in a portfolio you don't just present great photos, you present concepts and styles that you have explored and worked hard at so you are, for lack of a better word, a "master" of the concept and style.  Also, most of my photo career has been with social documentary and travel kinds of images, things beyond fashion and portraiture, and it's important for that to stay represented even if it's been a year or so since I've really done any of that.              
Besides the site I made another trip to Los Angeles.  It's always good for inspiration and a huge variety of locatons and models.  This trip was a bit different in that I knew most of the people I photographed beforehand, had a little variety by shooting a band and an engagement, and was able to come up with fairly simple scenarios using tools I was familiar with (motion blur, xrays, light painting, projection, large format photography) instead of trying new and complicated stuff or being responsible for hair, makeup and wardrobe.  Each time I do these trips I learn from my mistakes and one big one of the past is that I hadn't been well rested and would stress or rush around... this time I took it nice and easy, never drove around at 4 am or whatever, and I think the more balanced mental state shows in the photos. 
Read more

Poladroid tests

I'm writing an article about the various options Polaroid lovers have in a post-Polaroid world and one of those is the Poladroid freeware.  It's silly and cheesy but dang if it don't make some interesting images out of older snapshot type images.
Read more

Lightroom 3.0 + Fuji Instax

So it has been over 2 months since I last put up anything and it's shameful.  I've still been doing shoots but somewhere in there my 3 day jobs picked up in the amount of work I've had and there really wasn't much to say.  Still shooting models and fashion, still traveling, still got kids, blah blah blah.  First bit of equipment news, I bought a Fuji Instax, which punks out horizontal "polaroids."
There has been a little leap in the tech department that is worth writing about though: over the last month I did catch up with Lightroom 3.0, and to go along with that I really improved my use of presets.  Presets are basically "style shortcuts," and you can use the existing ones or import third party presets or design your own.  First step came when I downloaded a few preset packs made by common users around the globe-- like this one-- and then, out of the hundreds I scavenged, I made my own user presets by adjusting and combining the other effects.  This robot/ model photo is using a style I titled "Corbjin" after Anto Corbjin, rock photographer god best known for his work with U2 and Depeche Mode. 
Each shoot I've been a part of, I try to do an overall style that reflects the mood of the shoot-- no two shoots are the same so no two styles should be exactly the same.  This image is from a Greek goddess themed shoot and as such I wanted it to have a bit of classical sculptural feel, while at the same time reflecting a goddess beaming light.  
 On a more colorful side, Lightroom 3.0 helped me improve some vintage film presets especially since they added a "grain" slider in the develop feature.  I shoot a lot of vintage fashion and I like the look of the images to match the concept, so this is my "1970s movie" look...
 This one is from a project that is supposed to look like a comic, and I had to get more graphic design-y with it.  Because the comic will be multiple panels across a few pages, the look had to remain consisten in each photo, thus the need for a special preset... "superhero."
This image had almost no adjustments (a bit of vinetting and color adjustment) and was shot in a backyard with no lights on a rare cloudy Saturday morning.  I'm including it because I don't want to leave the impression that "style" has to do with finding the right button to push in the right circumstances-- for sure I spent a lot more time doing other things to the photos pre- and post-preset. 
Beyond the computer work, the concept, the weather, how I feel that day, what kind of model I have, and so many other factors all reflect in what the images ultimately look like. It's not every model who will have a lizard on their head, or dress as a superhero or goddess, or own weird props and be able to do their own insane makeup, or crawl around the sea in a vintage dress... these are the kinds of photos that come out when I think everything goes right.
Read more

Behind the Scenes

I just shot a studio setup for a clothing line, http://www.rivarlrystyle.com/.  A lot of my personal favorite fashion photos are the kind that pull the curtain back and show the model getting ready and done up-- fashion with a bit of documentary to it.
 
Because 99% of my shoots are location shoots instead of studio, random encounters happen all the time and if I'm lucky it gets caught and maybe worked into the shoot. 
Sometimes it's just people walking up and chatting because we look like we're doing interesting stuff...
and sometimes it's something interesting about the location, for example tons of dead animals scattered everywhere...
Occasionaly circumstances make me have some unforeseen assistants...
And today the assistant was severly hungover!  Still photogenic, even drooling.

Read more