Thursday, June 20, 2013

Interview with Fashion and Beauty Photographer Morgan Miller

Morgan Miller will be at Foto Care on June 26th from 12-3pm to a demonstration of the Leica S. The new Leica S system is faster, more sensitive and improved handling. So come to the Leica S demo on to learn more about this amazing system and test the camera! Register here.

Foto Care: Tell us about yourself and how you got into photography?
Morgan Miller: I have been around the photography world since I was very young.  In fact photography was a common occurrence for me throughout my life.  My father (a photographer and photography dealer) and my stepmother Colleen Kenyon (who ran the Center for Photography at Woodstock) from as early as I can remember had famous photographers as houseguests and big photo workshops at our home.  I was often around and able to speak with many very well known and established photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Sally Mann, Arnold Newman, Patrick Nagatani, Kenro Izu, William Wegman, Larry Fink, Tiziano Magni, Sheila Metzner, Jose Picayo, Christopher James, Lucien Clergue, etc. But, didn’t appreciate it or understand the importance of this till much later in life. I had decided to study business in school and it was not until later on that repeated occurrences kept happening to push me towards a career in photography. The most pivotal being one evening when I was with a group of friends including Peter Beard, one of them wanted to show him some photos I had taken while hiking Mayan ruins in the Yucatan.  That evening the direction of my life changed, Peter declared I was to be a photographer; I didn’t take much heed at first.  In fact he suggested I quit everything I was doing at that time to take photographs and that I should start the very next day. Which was followed up the next day by a phone call to bring a camera and come meet Peter at a shoot.  And now it is difficult to imagine being anything other than a photographer.  I wake up every day looking forward to being able to pick up my camera and capturing more light.

FC: What was your break out job that helped launch your career?
MM: I don’t know if its ever truly just one thing but a series of things that start to make people aware of you and your work, and then to continuing to build. Certainly the exhibition with Leica at Milk Studios Penthouse was a big break out and a major high light of my life so far.

FC: What has been your favorite assignment(s) to date?
MM: If I had to choose, and it’s hard, as I have many favorites, I would say my "Sparks" fashion editorial, where we cut a brand new Mercedes S600 in half with the models standing directly in front - there were sparks and molten metal flying all around, it was beautiful, challenging and a bit scary all at the same time.  I also really enjoy shooting beauty as it is so different in what it requires, perfect lighting and a lot of technical skill; it’s always a challenge as everything needs to be very precise, when you shoot beauty the eye will go straight to any imperfections. I love a creative challenge, projects like my Leica Iconic fine art exhibition shoot, a big favorite of mine, where I shot 6 models in 4 very different locations (in-side and outside) over two days for 18 plus hours a day was one of the most intense but exhilarating shoots I have had to date. Photography can offer unlimited avenues for creative fulfillment!

FC: Where do you draw your inspiration?
MM: From many things around me, and from things I've seen growing up, from the world and its history, and from New York and its fashion and many interesting scenes... things all around me…

FC: What do you do to market your services?
MM: A lot of it is through word of mouth, but my agency, Seminara Artists, is also a big believer in targeted emails and mailers.

FC: Do you use Social Media as part of your marketing mix? Do you think it is effective?
MM: I think that Social Media is an exciting world and full of possibilities, it can be effective as long as your know what’s possible and what is not within that realm. It can, however, be a very time-consuming and confusing landscape to navigate. It is definitely something on my list of things I want to continue to develop and expand on in the future. (Facebook, Twitter, Website)

FC: How has your work changed in the last few years?
MM: I am continuously studying my craft, and always trying to learn more, trying new ways to light, new post production techniques, to have my work continually evolve. What I love about photography is that there is perpetual room to grow, learn, and expand ones horizons; that each day I will face new and exciting challenges.

FC: Where is your work heading next? Where do you see yourself in the future?
MM: I love shooting high-end, editorial and commercial fashion, beauty and lifestyle so I will definitely continue to develop my career in all of those avenues.  I also find fine art very inspiring and expressive so I intend to work intensely to come up with exciting new images in that arena as well. I just signed with Gallery Orange in New Orleans, so an expansion into more galleries in other locals is currently under way.

FC: What equipment are you currently using to produce your work?
MM: For cameras I use Leica and Canon bodies, all of the Leica S Lenses are truly amazing; especially the 70mm and the 120mm for me. My top Canon lens choices are the 16-35 f2.8 Mk2, the 24-70 f2.8, 70-200f2.8mk2, the 85mm f/1.2 mk2. The Leica S-System is my favorite camera and lens combo without question. For lighting equipment I currently use all Profoto lighting equipment (with thanks, to Cliff Hausner of the Mac Group), from Strobes to the HMI (which I love), and everything in between; I'm especially a fan of large Parabolic Umbrellas.

FC: What equipment would you most like to own but don’t yet have?
MM: I would like to have more strobe heads and more HMIs as the more you have the more you can do.

FC: Do you work with Video? Have you stepped into the Hybrid Video market at all?
MM: Morgan Miller Photography has been doing videos for its clients for years, but I have recently begun getting even more directly involved in the entire video directing, shooting and editing process.  Certainly the video market will continue to grow, though I do not believe in personally shooting stills and video at the same time as I think you have a greater chance of missing “The shot” and missing the moment, its too much of a risk to end up having less great shots and a lower quality video.
FC: How do you choose your locations?
MM: It depends on if the project is for a commercial client where they often know what they want already or if it is for a magazine where the photographer will often have more creative input. However in either case creative meetings with the team are crucial in choosing the perfect location for a project.

FC: When/how did you first hear about Foto Care?  What is it about Foto Care that brings you back? 

MM: Foto Care is a special place in the photography community, a tremendous resource, I was first brought there years ago by Cliff Hausner and they consulted with me and helped me with the right equipment for a big and difficult shoot, that at the time was honestly over my head. They offer so much to photographers of every level and in every type of photography; they have an amazing knowledge base along with every piece of gear you could ever want. The entire staff really seems to care enough to personally take the time needed with each of their clients. I have learned something every single time I have gone in there - from the retail to their great rental dept. At one point the owner (Jeff Hirsch) personally spent hours with me on which light stands to purchase to best support certain types of lighting in different locations on different surfaces. Very few stores let alone owners would ever take the time to do something like that; Foto Care is a great resource to everyone in the photographic community.