Monday, 31 January 2011

Experiences in Street Photography

I've done Street Photography intermittently over the years although never in such a focussed way. Interesting in that there is definitely a time factor here.  Each of the three sessions I've worked on so far have started slowly with a feeling that little was going to happen and then eventually something did.  I'm not saying I've got that work of art yet but walking around and observing the world reveals special things and its very exciting - you just don't know if the next 1/60th of a second, as yes I am still bleating about the lack of light in Scotland in Winter, will deliver something amazing and perhaps never to be seen again. This is life study in a lot of detail and I'm seeing things that I'd never seen before.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Perth twins with Pyongyang

Taking photographs in the streets of my hometown of Perth today and I was approached and questioned by the police. A concerned member of the public had called them saying they had seen a guy taking photographs.  The policeman was polite, took my details and then called the station to check me out.  I thought it best not to be difficult and asked what steps I could take to avoid being questioned again and his response was to recommend that I call into the police station to let them know in future,they would check me out and then handle any calls appropriately.  It was kind of embarrassing to be sat next to a policemen in a bright yellow bib for fifteen minutes as people looked on expecting me to be cuffed.  We shared a laugh together before he walked over to a guy at a nearby bus stop who was clearly the one who called.  I took great satsifaction in continuing to take photographs after the police left.

I'm guessing it won't be the last time I'm questioned and it feels good to have lost my PJ virginity.

There is a plus though and that is if restrictions like this continue to grow then the world will need to rely on photojournalists to provide the images that no-one else can get.

I'll go to sleep tonight wishing I had a Star Trek transporter and I could send the guy at the bus stop to North Korea.  He'd fit in well there.

Downs Syndrome Scotland

Very important to keep my personal project going and so had a high energy discussion with the CEO  and her communications manager at Downs Syndrome Scotland.  Lots of plans emerging.  Plans for a book and a controversial title besides in the pipeline.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Taking Harry Hardies advice

After hearing Harry talk yesterday about not turning down chances to show our work today I was approached by Trellis UK who support a network of therapeutic gardens with a request to supply the images I took in my project 'The Most important people in the World: Honesty' as part of the backdrop to their forthcoming conference.  With Harrys' voice ringing in my ears it must have taken a nanosecond to say yes!! Its one day so I'm thinking of borrowing easels as the images are poster size and printed on aluminium composite. and click gallery to see Most Important people in the World

BJP and Kodachrome 64

Quite pleased to see my letter about the last roll of Kodachrome 64 published in British Journal of Photography this month.  There was no editiorial comment so I'm hoping that Steve McCurry will respond.

High ISO opens up a new world

Finding the use of ISO 400 restrictive as part of my MA projects but its a great discipline.

How spoiled we are nowadays as a whole new world has opened up allowing us to take pictures without flash for some subjects.  The Downs Syndrome work I have been doing is shot at ISO 5000 and higher in a very dark church hall.  I like the way the images look and can't help thinking this work could not have been done in the past as it would have required flash and would have changed the whole look/scene/interaction.

If anything I rue the loss of inherent grain lost when I moved away from push processed film but at large sizes grain starts to appear and I am very much in the camp which likes grain.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Thoughts as the course progresses

Head swimming with thoughts right now. I realise that a lot of the questions I have gathered over the years have just built up and this could be the perfect forum to resolve them.  That inbuilt dislike of people who use digital cameras like a machine gun to shoot away and then select one or two good shots.  Does that make the work less worthy? Does it actually matter when the world only sees the output anyway? Is the fact that you shoot hundreds of pictures for one good result correct? Some famous street photographers shot rolls and rolls of film which we don't see.  Diane Arbus spent hours/days in the darkroom optimising prints. I'm starting to think its the process that has most value - the preparation, the planning, engagement.  Without that process then we are talking snapshots but then the trouble is does the world care about the process is this just something we care about in our part of the photographic community.  Part of this I guess is working through the coursework and looking forward to the outcome.  I need to clear my head or irrelevances and of the things that I can't control and focus on finding a doing the best I can with subjects.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

New lens

Picked up a 14-24 Zoom today - talk about another view of the world Whoah!!  Woop Woop.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Hugh picture framer

Really enjoying meeting new people who are featuring in my picture projects.  Rightly or wrongly I tend to engage with subjects while I take pictures.  I feel when they tell me about themselves they relax more but also show me more of their inner self. Hugh the gallery owner and framer is maybe a case in point - I've made a new friend and at the same time found a framer!


What an interesting lecture and really timely.  I'm working with families who have children with Downs Syndrome and I see that an anthropological approach could be the way to provide more depth and understanding in what I do.  The more I understand the more I can direct the work into interesting areas.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Big changes with the company I am working with (Thats the one that pays the bills) all positive but its meant I am overseas and in meetings this week.  Two subjects done and uploaded for the first assignment and I'm right now trying to set something up for when I land in the UK on Friday morning after an overnight flight.  There couldn't be a better introduction to working under pressure but its been fantastic already to get so absorbed and involved in the subject I love.  I'm meeting great people too!!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Last roll of Kodachrome

The article about ‘The last roll of Kodachrome’ BJP, Jan 2011 seems to deliver a whole heap of irony which is hinted at but not fully explored. Of course photographers are using digital backs with film cameras in the way polaroid backs were used in the past but to use ‘a digital SLR to evaluate light and the composition thoroughly before every shot’ seems, at least to me, to be contrary to the rationale behind this particular project. 
Digital photography, and I too am a user, is complicit in the death of film materials and so maybe a little harsh that it now be indellibly linked with the last use of this great product.  Its a little like standing by just to make sure the coffin is closed and nailed shut.  Although not mentioned in the article I’d be interested to know if this was intentional on the part of Steve McCurry. In visiting prior locations would it not have been more appropriate to take the approach he has done previously or was he also trying to illustrate how things have moved on?

Thursday, 13 January 2011


I'm Graham Miller living in Perth, Scotland.  I've been taking photographs since a child.  My first recollection was being given a working 'toy' twin lens reflex by an Uncle at the age of six. From there I moved to 35mm film and while at University worked with my cherished Olympus OM1 which I still have. I have been an admirer of Don McCullin (who I met last year) for over thirty years and at twenty one fully intended to take a flight to cover the first war that came along.  I met my wife, fell in love and here I am 49 with a successful commercial career, wonderful and supportive family ready to start on an exciting chapter in my life.

Photography is one of the supporting pillars of my life and I cannot live without it.  Over the last three years I have been engaged in personal projects.  I became frustrated at the proliferation of the single image as a result of simplified digital picture taking.  It struck me that it order to rise above all that noise I had to engage with subjects and gain access to situations where a snapshot was either not possible or very difficult to achieve.  

In coming to photojournalism at this stage in my life I believe maturity and my business skills confer advantages.  The photograph represents a distillation of all my characteristics and abilities.  I lacked confidence and so when my first project 'The Most Important people in the World:Honesty' was so well received it gave me the encouragement to take this very important step.  The images were presented during 2010 poster sized and printed on Aluminium in Scotland in two solo exhibitions and included in a double page colour feature in one of the two scottish broadsheets 'The Scotsman'.  The second exhibition was by invitation from the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film festival and was opened by Robin Bailey of the National Portrait Gallery.

I'm now working on Downs Syndrome and the relationship between parents and children. 

My favourite photographers are Diane Arbus, Alex Majoli, Elliot Erwitt and Walter Astrada.  My favourite photobook is the incredible 'Leros' by Alex Majoli.

I'm proud to be part of the community and hope over the next two years learn all the skills required to practice as a full time photojournalist. I'm hoping to work with Downs Syndrome as part of the MA course and have a goal to present some of the work at World Downs Congress in South Africa 2012.

I've started a website and you'd be welcome to take a look.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Photohonesty rockets into the blogosphere

Wahay one week and and the guys running the MAPJD online course have got me blogging - they are certainly making sure we are up to speed with state if the art tools.