We recently caught up with Greg Miller, a professional photographer based in Atlanta, and interviewed him on how he began his career, the pros and cons of the photo industry and a project that Miller is working on with Mitsubishi Electric.
From when he was a kid, Miller enjoyed photography. His first camera, a Winner pocket camera with his name written in marker on the back, was won while selling tulip bulbs for a school fundraiser. His obsession grew when Miller began developing pictures of his friends in his basement darkroom. Following this, he became the staff photographer for his high school yearbook. Then, New York came: “ I began my career in New York working as a retoucher. I moved back home to Atlanta after a year and continued work as a retoucher before attending Portfolio Center in Atlanta for photography. I spent two years there working hard to build a portfolio and a reputation. As soon as I got out of school, I started building my client base as a photographer.”
We asked him if he had any life changing moments, such as a big break, a perfect mentor, or a mystical moment, Miller believes his work at SamataMason gave him the opportunity and confidence to further pursue his talents. This job allowed him to travel, “to ten cities across the globe capturing the bleak mood of the 2002 economy” while studying at Portfolio Center. His work is still available from that time at gregorymillerphotography.com.
What are the worst parts and the best parts about doing what you do? He says that the only drawback is traveling away from his family. The traveling does feed him creatively, meeting different people “from different walks of life” who are more comfortable opening up to him in a more personal and intimate way. He states that his work is very much inspired by Harry Callahan, who he can relate to in terms of the personal struggles and achievements of being “self-taught.” Other inspiration came from Albert Watson and his book Cyclops.
Currently, Greg Miller has a wide range of photographic collections, including “American Mariachi” and “Museum Taxidermist,” which illustrate different aspects of American society. His technique is astounding, yet, learned, “through experimentation. Photograph is a very hands-on experience. The wide array of subjects and tools available allow for a wide playing field for the creative photographer.”
Miller explained his technique during the “Split Personality” print campaign project for Mitsubishi Electric. He explained the project in full:
“ This project is a national print campaign for Mitsubishi Electric. The agency is Ames Scullin O’Haire out of Atlanta and the art director is Ryan Mikesell. He’s come up with some great concepts that illustrate the solution this product delivers for the everyday homeowner. Our story is about internal conflict. The subject in each ad wants to move his or her thermostat a few degrees, but is conflicted because that will result in higher energy costs. The subject of each ad demonstrates this conflict by literally fighting with him or herself, physically pulling his or her body away from the thermostat. The simple solution, of course, is to install one of Mitsubishi Electric’s heating and cooling units that control the temperature of an individual room without affecting the temperature of the entire house.”
Click picture for the BTS footage.
“To create the final ads, we will capture background plates without our talent. Secondly, we will capture the action of our talent. We have a personal trampoline so that each talent can launch him or herself into the air. Two large air mattresses are placed nearby for the talent to safely land on. We have about 2/3 of a second to catch our action from launch to landing. That’s where the broncolor packs come in to play.”
With some help from Jay Morel of Morel Studio Support, Miller became familiar with the broncolor line of products when searching for a pack with “incredibly short flash duration and very fast recycle time.” That’s when Miller became familiar with thebroncolor Scoro and Pulso G heads (using four packs and four heads), in addition to shooting action with a Canon 1DMK4 and the background plates with the Phase 1P25+ on a Hasselblad H1. Then, he “bounced the heads off of ceilings and v-flats or pushed two heads into a Para 170.”
Why did Miller choose these tools? “The action was quick and he needed to capture as many frames as possible that were sharp.” The “short flash duration and super fast recycling time combined with 10 frames per second of the Canon 1DMK4” allowed him to get the shots he needed.
We asked him: Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change? And he replied, “No other product allowed for this combination of fast recycle and short flash duration. There is no other product I could even consider for this project.”