‘Lone,” a photography exhibit by Jody Miller, is on view now at LightBox Photographic Gallery in Astoria. Miller has lived in Astoria part-time for 15 years. Her photographic collection features images sensing the power and emotion of being alone as a state of mind and a state of being. The images in the show are photos Miller took alone that convey a feeling of loneliness.
Coast Weekend talked to Miller about her work, process and creating amid the pandemic.
Q: You started taking photos with the Kodak Brownie at the age of 9. Who gave you your first camera?
A: My parents gave me that camera. My father was a very gifted photographer and they gifted me with that camera at 9 and I drove them crazy with it.
Q: You’ve described photography as a “solitary process.” Can you elaborate on that?
A: It has always been that way my whole life; I do my best work alone. I think it’s because my subjects always speak to me and call out to me in some way. You have to be listening really closely and wait for those (callings) to come to you for that to happen. If other people are around, it distracts from that experience. Sometimes things will speak to me very softly like a whisper and so it really takes concentration to feel that and zero in on a subject to shoot.
Q: Do you always listen to those intuitions calling you to take a photo?
A: Generally, yes. If I’m driving at 80 miles per hour, I need to turn around and take the photo because the light changes every second and you will never have that opportunity again. That, I’ve learned the hard way. If the light is good, I stop and take the picture. Whatever I’m doing, I have to stop and take the picture.
Q: Do you find that post-processing is necessary?
A: There are different ways to grab your images. Say you’re using an iPhone, which is a perfectly valid form of photography, it does a lot of processing within its own sensors and sometimes can come out absolutely perfect and you don’t need to do anything. If you’re shooting with a big DSLR camera that shoots in the raw format, there’s lots of information in that, but you have to do post-processing to get that. It’s required to use Photoshop on a raw image.
Q: How has the pandemic affected you and your work?
A: I’ve put no work with galleries at all during the pandemic until this. I’ve been shooting, but not as much as I had before the pandemic hit. I kind of became a shut-in for a while. Now I’m still shooting every day, but I certainly haven’t shopped around at galleries during this pandemic period. This is the first exposure of my recent work that I’ve had since the pandemic started. I feel like everybody in the public and businesses are trying to be more careful now and use safe protocols so I feel more at ease being in galleries now. We want everyone (at LightBox) to feel safe.
Q: What advice can you give an aspiring photographer?
A: Don’t stop shooting; just go out every day. My teacher did the best thing for me by saying you have to shoot a roll of film every day. I went out and shot a roll of film every day even if I wasn’t inspired. It’s practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. Your eye will soon be trained to see the way the camera sees as opposed to the way you think you’re seeing. The camera has a different kind of eye. Just practice is the only way to learn that. Just keep shooting and you will find your own vision.