Kevin Ned Miller: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
What first piqued your interest in photography?
In junior high school, I took a photography class, bought a nice camera, and was smitten by the photo-bug. I talked my family into setting up a darkroom at the house and had a lot of fun processing my own black-and-white film and prints.
Eventually, the demands of life drew me away from photography. In my mid-forties, I was gifted a simple digital point-and-shoot camera. I was smitten again and have worked to hone my digital imaging skills.
What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?
One tip in taking candid images is to be patient and to anticipate. If a person is in a setting that has the potential for an interesting expression or interaction, I have learned to stay with that scene and look for the unfolding of special moments.
On the technical side, I like to use the multi-burst mode in these settings. As a potentially interesting moment unfolds, I take a series of photos, usually at six frames per second. Sometimes this technique allows the capture of just the right nuance of a smile or expression that could easily be missed in single-capture mode.
Another concept that has resonated with me is the idea of chasing the light. The idea is that good light is even more important than subject matter in many images.
I recall photographing a desert garden months ago. All I did was chase the best light and photograph whatever was illuminated by that light at that moment. Even some "routine" subjects look intriguing in good light.
What about photography inspires you?
There are two aspects of photography that inspire me most. First, photography is the best outlet I have for creativity. For most of my life I have considered myself a less-creative person, more left-brain oriented. But after getting proficient with the technical side of photography, I have been drawn to the creative side, wanting to make unique images that will be moving and meaningful to others.
Second, I really enjoy giving images to others as gifts. I love giving the gift of memories from events or special locations. This is especially meaningful for those who might not be able to hire a photographer to capture these memories. I have shared images through online galleries, large prints, slideshows, custom greeting cards, and mugs.
How do you decide what to shoot and how to shoot it?
On occasion, I am able to take dedicated time for photography. But life has many demands, and most of the time I photograph people and locations that are part of my everyday life. If we attend a special event or if we go on a trip, I make the most of my photo opportunities during those times.
I have thought about the themes I might concentrate on with my images that might help inspire others. One of these is "gratitude," and I have made regular blog posts over the past year with photos and thoughts that help me keep a grateful heart. For instance, the beauty of the world is seen on many stages. The desert has its own special gems to brighten our lives.
Where is your favorite location to shoot?
My favorite locations are images of our temples. They are beautiful and make for amazing images when the light is right.
What advice would you give to new photographers?
Shoot those things for which you have passion. Don't worry excessively about the technical side of photography. Use photography to expand your creativity, and with experience the technical side will take care of itself. Go online for resources. There are many podcasts, online classes, online forums, workshops, and websites with beautiful images. All of these resources and more will inspire you and advance your learning.
How important is Photoshop in your final image?
I think it is important to get a clean, well-exposed image at capture. Some photographers don't like spending much time doing post-processing. Others prefer that over actual image capture. I am somewhere in the middle. I like taking images but I also enjoy working afterward in the digital darkroom.
What is your favorite lighting?
My favorite lighting for landscape is, of course, the early morning or late evening light. But midday light on a cloudy day is also nice; it is like a large, soft box that is nice for portraits. I also like settings where there is an island of light surrounded by significant light drop-off. Such light can give striking images.
Where is your dream location to shoot?
I think my favorite location to shoot would actually be a series of locations, the various locations of the LDS temples throughout the world.
What types of photos have you shared with the Church and its members?
I have submitted a variety of subjects, including temples, chapels, Church history, landscapes, abstracts, nativity, clouds, patterns, ocean, buildings, and others.
What is one tip that you would like to share?
The strongest images often seem to be those that are simple and uncluttered. When a photographer captures an image, the scene is often complex and cluttered. So a photographer has to make a concerted effort to decide what NOT to include in an image. Often, less is more in this regard. There are some practical ways to get simpler images.
Being aware of the background at the time of capture is an important way to help eliminate unwanted items in an image. A mild adjustment in the angle of the camera or the position of the subject can help in this.
Another important idea is to get closer to your subject and then to get even closer. This will help isolate the subject and minimize items that might be cluttering the background. Having a subject thus "fill the frame" of the camera is a very simple technique to help make images stronger.
A helpful technique is to use lenses with large apertures. This will allow isolation of the subject and will soften the view of less important details in the background. This is very helpful in taking portraits.
Lastly, converting to black and white can be very helpful in those images where very bright or unnatural colors detract from the subject.