10 minutes with Patrick James Miller

Interviews with Photographers May 2, 2011 8:44 am

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

I never really had that specific moment when I knew exactly that I wanted to be a photographer. I studied Painting and Video during college and took a few photo classes. Photography seemed to come naturally to me. I liked getting weekly assignments from my professors. One experience that influenced me was traveling to Europe when I was 20. I studied Spanish in Spain for a month and traveled around Western Europe for another two months with some friends. I used this shitty Pentax 35mm point and shoot camera when I was there. I took pictures obsessively during that trip. Pictures of everything and anything. I think I shot about 40 rolls of film, which at the time was ridiculous for me. When I got home, a friend who worked at a local camera store developed the film for me for free. When I got my film back and was able to relive my trip through the photos… I was hooked.

Another big influence was when a now good friend of mine showed his photo book to my class in college. He was just beginning the transition from assisting to shooting, and the pictures in his book were phenomenal. It was the first time that I realized you could actually make a living taking pictures. His pictures were taken in amazing places like Iceland, Australia, the Caribbean, and all over the America. I thought to myself, ‘I want to do that’! Traveling really seemed to influence me.

 

Patrick James Miller

Patrick James Miller

 

What is your daily routine like, when you’re not on assignment?

My daily routine is kind of a lack of routine, really. But there are definitely things that I do every day. I tend to do a lot of work mid-day or during the evening hours, between 11am and 8pm or so. My brain seems to work best then. This year, I made a huge effort to email and research during days I am not shooting. Between working on personal shoots, updates and marketing, photography tends to take up a lot of the day. I do make a conscious effort to step away from the computer every day. I go out for a run, go get good espresso, or just a walk around my neighborhood. It is important for me to get out of the office every so often to clear my head. My routine also depends on the time of year and my location. Since I moved to Brooklyn last fall, I split my time between NYC and LA, where I grew up. New York is an extremely motivating place for me right now. There is always somewhere to go, somebody to meet, or something new to see.

 

Patrick James Miller

Patrick James Miller

 

Tell me about the last vivid dream that you had?

This is a funny question. I have that classic syndrome of dreaming intensely and remembering the dream at first.  But within the next groggy minutes of waking up, I completely forget everything.

I have had a reoccurring dream ever since I graduated from college. I’ll have it maybe once every couple of years. The dream always starts where I am halfway thru a quarter at school and I realize that I have not been to a class for about 4 weeks. I just completely forgot about the class and haven’t shown up. The dream actually really sucks..

I just got back from a trip to Baja Mexico and I did have a dream the other night about having more time down there. I like dreams of Mexican food and Tequila more than dreams about phantom college classes.

 

Patrick James Miller

Patrick James Miller

 

What is the best thing about your job, and what is the hardest?

The best part of my job has to be the people that I have met and experiences that I get to have. I really love meeting people and being inviting to take a closer look into their lives. I have always been curious of why people do the things they do and photo really allows me to examine that. At an early age I had a fear of working in the same office setting somewhere with the same 20 people for the rest of my life. That terrified me… When you’re shooting, everyday is something new to encounter and that is inspiring to me.

The hardest part of being a photographer for me is when it is slow. I work best when I am busy and tend to be the happiest when I am. But on the flip side to that, there is always something you can do to further yourself. Whether it is shooting personal work, updating portfolios or marketing, there is always more to be done. When it gets slow in one area, you can always push in another.

 

Patrick James Miller

Patrick James Miller

 

Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?

This is a hard one for me because I still very much consider myself an up and comer. But I have gotten tons of great advice from photographer friends and mentors along the way. I remember hearing this early on and it really helped me. I think something that is very important is getting a book together and showing your work even if you don’t think it is ready. Often that is the time when you need to show it the most. Some people are going to like it and some people aren’t. That’s just the way it is. But I think the most important thing is that you have a confident vision of what you want your work to be. If you are true to that and persistent, the rest will hopefully follow.

Oh, and also… slip-on shoes will take minutes off your travel time at airports.

(Patrick is based in Brooklyn. See more of his work, here)

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