Love has many forms and for photographer Mike Miller, photographs are one of them. The veteran photographer has been all around the world photographing icons of fashion and music world, but one thing's for certain, his love for California keeps him grounded. His current exhibition at the M+B Photo Gallery, California Love, is like a romantic love letter to his home state and no, it's not cheesy. Not even close.
Hello, Mike! Welcome to the Magazine. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Mike Miller. I'm a Los Angeles native and I've been shooting for 30 years
What's your favorite thing about photography?
Shooting musicians, traveling to different cities, countries, and meeting new people.
What was your first memorable encounter as a photographer?
Shooting Ice Cube in 1989 right when he left NWA. I was a huge fan.
We love your film photographs from the 90s — hip-hop, supermodels, Cali life, and so on. They offer different kinds of energy to the viewer. How did you get started on your photographic journey?
In the late 70s, I was fooling around shooting some of the Dogtown skaters in my cousin's backyard where we had a half pipe. Then in my early 20s, I was going around Europe and I started to test models in Paris and then in Barcelona.
What pushed you to take photography as a career?
Elite model management in Paris hired me to shoot their girls and paid me $300 per test. It helped me build a portfolio and survive in Paris for 1 1/2 years. I then tested models in Barcelona for six months and revived my first campaign for the fashion house of Cacherel.
Your exhibition, "California Love" with M+B Photo looks amazing. How does it feel to have a show dedicated to your home state?
Every exhibit I have had around the world is equally rewarding. M + B Gallery has some of my favorite photographers and it's an honor to be in their company. I love everything about the West Coast culture — from our cars to surf and skate. There’s so much here that I love and I’m just so happy to have a theme.
How has the landscape of California changed (culturally) over the years?
Culturally, it’s changed a lot. Los Angeles has become overwhelmingly wealthy now, but back then it used to feel more diverse. I don’t want to sound like a downer but I’m not happy with the development taking over the city.
How does it feel to be a witness to all these changes?
Your photographic work looks like a documentation of sorts. What are your favorite subjects to capture?
Musicians, cars, and skaters.
What inspires you to create?
The feeling I get when I capture something that I’ve had in my head. Also, my wife contributes heavily throughout the past 27 years of my work.
What challenges you in your work?
I can’t think of anything off the top of my head except people/companies stealing my images for inspo or actual usage on merch. It’s pretty awful and I’m glad I have a good lawyer now.
Any upcoming projects?
I am currently working on my third book
Lastly, what does a perfect day look like for Mike Miller?
Photographing one of my favorite musicians or spending time with my family.