Katie Miller’s camera lens gives us an insight into her world, jumping between L.A., New York, Berlin and San Francisco. Her manner is fluid, and so Miller's photography isn’t limited to a singular theme, she works her style into many mediums, from portraiture, to youth-fuelled party shots, to holiday vistas. One thing that stays true in her portfolio is her awareness of cropping, colour and irony. Dazed Digital spoke to the photographer, whose work has been featured in the New York Times, Bullett and YYY, about her methods and inspiration.
Dazed Digital: What are the stories behind your photo project names?
Katie Miller: 'Mirage' - My friends and I went to Joshua Tree, CA with the idea of reflecting body parts and blending in with the landscape creating a surreal scene with mirrors. Creating our own mirage.
'Neon Classical' - A name prompted by a friend’s description of my work, this is a collection of images from past year that represent modernized compositions of neoclassical architecture and sculpture.
'Catch me if You Can' - Literally running though the middle of nowhere with my sister Patti chasing her and taking photos in the process.
'Corridor of Dreams' - Named after a Cleaners in Venus song I had on repeat during the time I was preparing for the shoot. It felt relevant to my feelings toward San Francisco at the time and my girl friends there - some of whom modelled in the shoot.
DD: What is your favourite subject to shoot, do you prefer landscape/still lifes or portraits/people-based imagery?
Katie Miller: Since moving to California a few years ago, I’ve been drawn to shooting in the desert. I grew up in the woods in Minnesota so being in the desert feels like being on another planet to me. I’m not as interested in landscapes alone; and I prefer to shoot people. I’ve been thinking about a still life series I’d like to do. Van Wyeen Eek has some interesting compositions that have piqued my interested in still life photography.
DD: A lot of your photos appear to be set up, how would you describe your images/style of shooting?
Katie Miller: With the exception of “Purely Entertainment”, a compilation of snapshots I’ve taken over the years, my shoots are generally structured in the same way- with a mood and style in mind, a few specific locations and often times a few props in case they end up enhancing a shot. Most people need time to feel comfortable in front of a camera so I always try to give clear direction and keep them distracted. My favorite moment thus far was bringing a small trampoline to the peak of Mount Tamalpais in California. I had the models jumping with a 360 view of the bay at sunset - they quickly forgot I was there.
DD: Who are your favourite photographers/ films/ filmmakers?
Katie Miller: Recently, I’ve been inspired by Guy Bourdin’s use of negative space and playful compositions. Nan Goldin was one of my first favorite photographers and I still come back to her work - I share her love of low light photography and drag queens. Juergen Teller’s attention to patterns and monochromatic colour schemes are also some of my most loved images in fashion photography.
As for films; Kenneth Anger stills fill my reference folders along with Dario Argento’s Suspiria - the lighting in that movie is exquisite. I recently watched Possession by Andrzej Żuławski and that’s stuck in my mind as well.
DD: What are you working on now and what's next?
Katie Miller: I am currently in Berlin for another month working on some personal shoots before I leave for New York in September where I will be shooting for a new men’s clothing line. Upon my return home to Los Angeles in the fall, I’m hoping to spend more time shooting in the desert. I’m working on images for a photo book that is a continuation of my 'Mirage' series.