About the Photographer and PhotographsI like referring to myself as a fine art photographer. The downside calling yourself one is that it sounds awfully pretentious; the upside of being one is that you don’t have to give a crap about reality. Photographically speaking, fine art photographers pretty much have carte blanche to do whatever they want. The images in the Places Portfolio, for example, are not necessarily what you would see if you went there. Hopefully, what you see is what I intended to convey and, in the case of the Places Portfolio, emptiness, vastness and loneliness are common themes. Of course, only you know how successful I was.
It’s obvious that I would never be considered avant-garde or cutting edge. I like many images of this genre, but it’s not what I do. (Don’t you just hate genre snobs?) The closest thing to that here is some of the images in the Innocuous Glimpses Portfolio. I was forced to change my style to fit a situation, but it was better than not photographing at all. I prefer to work in what I call the “contemplative mode”. I like to totally immerse myself in the image I’m considering, decide as explicitly as possible what I want it to be and then deliberate things photographic such as shadow detail, depth of field and tone values. That's how I work in a nutshell.
A Short Biography
When I was 13 or 14 I bought an Ansco Developing and Printing kit with the ten dollars my grandmother sent me for my birthday. From that point on I was pretty well hooked on making images. Until about twelve years ago I concentrated on color work due to the belief that darkroom work was just too time consuming. I decided to make time for the darkroom and now most of my work is black and white. I still like color; I just like black and white more.
While I've had work in national and international exhibits, I mostly exhibit regionally (Western Texas and Eastern New Mexico) and manage to sell a few prints. It always helps when someone likes your work, but I would probably still make photographs even it that were not the case.
Cattle ranching and being a college professor are the only real jobs I've ever had for any length of time. (There were those years I involuntarily spent in the army, but those never seemed real.) I have never considered photography to be a job because it has never seemed like work.
Nothing is more boring or tiresome than arguing about analog versus digital especially when each side is trying to convert the other. I now print almost everything digitally using the Epson Photo Stylus 2400. I use film for serious work because I like working with negatives and because I think I can accomplish what I want with it--not because I think digital is somehow inherently inferior. My motto is: "Do what works for you but keep an open mind."
Most of the older work shown on this site was made with a Mamiya 645. The earliest work was mostly T-Max 100 developed in T-Max or HC 110 developer. I later switched to Ilford Delta films, mostly Delta 100, and Xtol developer. I never spent much time searching for the silver bullet film-developer or paper-developer combination. I did, however, experiment considerably with toners.
I've pretty much retired the Mamiay 645 even though it still works OK. I bought it used over 15 years ago and ran hundreds of rolls through it. My medium format choice is now a Pentax 67 that is probably a year or two older than the Mamiya, but has seen a lot less use. It's a great camera for outdoor photography in West Texas since it's size and weight make it possible to get good photographs even when there is a fairly strong wind. I still love the wooden handle.
When time and conditions allow, I also use a Sinar F2 4 x 5. The large negatives are amazing, but producing them usually requires some hard work and patience. I use Ilford Delta 100 for both formats.
All Text and Images © Joe Miller, 2007