I'm alive but i'm barely breathing...

I have spent the last two weeks being sicker than a dog. This cold has been absolutely brutal. At one point it felt like the time I had pneumonia and at other times it felt like the cold was turning into laryngitis. It has been a dismal two weeks which is why I haven't been posting to any of my social media accounts. I apologize for the lack of my hideous mug. :P 

I do however have a few announcements that I want to share with you all and they are as follows.

Moments

I am launching a new YouTube video series on my channel! This special series of videos is called "Moments." I am beyond excited for this because I have wanted to focus on shooting more high quality short videos/short films but I hadn't quite figured out all the vibe until recently. Whilst brainstorming future ideas for my YouTube channel (click here to subscribe :P) I wanted to come up with a word or title that could fit multiple genres/styles/music/topics, etc. The title of "Moments" fit that perfectly. Moments will be a series of videos that focus on sharing important times in my life and will encompass times that may be big moments or they may be small. The videos will be a way to showcase my perspective on the world around me, both how I'm personally affected and/or how those around me are affected. I want to be able to capture the essence and feeling in a unique way.  To try to give you a clearer understanding check out the first episode I released here (or down below). I am beyond excited to see how these projects will evolve and grow. 

Moments - Episode 1: "Connection" 

This episode relates to the concept of connections. For the performer this is the first concert from her US tour after a multi-year legal battle with her formal label to gain her independence and be able to sell and produce her music. This concert highlight that she still maintains a strong bond with her fans and that they are ready and willing to support her on her next adventure. 

On a personal level this will be the last event/concert I get to see with my little brother before he moves to his new home and I take on the next adventure. JoJo happens to be one of his favorite artists and getting him tickets for us to go see her was a way to have a last hurrah, so to speak. It was an AMAZING concert and spending time with my brother will always be one of my favorite things to do. 

 facebook.com/officialjonathanmiller 

facebook.com/officialjonathanmiller 

JoJo's manager even tweeted about his review of the concert on his YouTube channel, which alone is exciting enough, but then JoJo herself posted the video to her Facebook page (seen above) to share with her hundreds of thousands of loyal fans! Needless to say Jon was THROUGH THE ROOF with excitement! 

I have one more very exciting announcement that I want to share with you all, but I think it may deserve it's own blog post when everything is 100% official, so keep an eye out for that.... but if you'd like a sneak peak you can watch the video below.

Much love to you all, and thank you for your continued support! 

-Stephen

5 Essentials For Adventures - Not Including My Camera Gear

I get this question quite a lot more than I expect, usually cause most people who follow my work like to talk about camera gear, but I think it would make a great blog post! I often get asked “other than your camera gear, what are your essentials for your adventures/photo missions?” Well, let's answer that question!

First thing I always grab for longer adventures is my duffle bag. This one is by Fossil and even though it's no longer made (I think), it's still one of my favorites. This bag has seen its fair share of spills, falls, and muddy surfaces. I've spilt whole bottles of shampoo inside and it still looks brand new. Oh, and as an aside, cleaning shampoo from the inside of a bag is among the most tedious of tasks and I never want to do it again. The bag can hold pants, shirts, essentials, boots, and still have room for a blanket, jacket... or the occasional extra camera part. If it can take a beating and come back swinging then it gets high marks in my book.

 

Brand: Fossil   Cost: $125(+/-)  Favorite Part: Durability   

Second essential: Boots. I have never been a sneaker guy. I honestly see no point in owning shoes you can't wear and get dirty in – well other than a nice dress shoe. That's why I LOVE boots. I've had family and business associates work for shoe companies before and when they ask if I'd like to score a free pair I ALWAYS ask about boots. This particular pair is by Aston Grey and honestly they're my favorite pair of boots I have EVER owned. Are they waterproof? No. Are they made for hiking? No. Are they the most comfortable thing ever? YES. I cannot stress enough how comfortable these things are. I have literally worn these to bed. They may not have started out as adventure boots, but I have damn-well turned them into adventure boots. Haha.

They can be dressed up or dressed down depending on what I need. Plus they match the whole “adventure aesthetic.” Perfect. 10/10 would recommend.

Brand: Aston Grey (Rockcastle 2)   Cost: $125(+/-)  Favorite Part: Feel sexy on my feet!  

 

 

Third essential: Journal. No, not a “dear diary” kinda journal. This one's meant to take anything you can throw at it. I use this to write down ideas for my photos, YouTube channel, books, etc. I also sketch and add mental notes. Sometimes the only power I have is the power in my camera batteries so I need something that I can keep all my notes in. I have several of these, some of them are actual journals and some are sketchbooks filled to the brim. Each of them are different and each of them special. I typically stick with leather bound books since they age and wear so well, but this one is a hard red cover and so far it's easy to keep clean and the pages and durable and strong. Not bad for 15 bucks.

Pick one up at a local bookstore or on Amazon.

Fourth essential: A watch. This one is also by Fossil. Can you tell I am a little bit biased to this aesthetic? Haha. It's not actually a waterproof watch but it has definitely seen it's fair share of water. (OOPS!) One of the sexiest accessories for us dudes, in my opinion, is a good watch. For some guys it's a suit, for some it's crisp shirts, for me I like watches (and boots!) Do any of you also wear you watch on the “wrong” wrist? I am right handed and I wear my watches on the right hand. I don't know of a lot of people who do that... Sure a watch can tell you what time it is, but a good watch makes a good impression by letting people know as you shake their hand what kind of personality you have. I like my watches with leather or wood bands, and my face and accent colors in gold, silver, brown, black, or white. I don't like anything too flashy so if there are any jewels the overall design needs to be very sleek and clean.

Brand: Fossil   Cost: Under $100  Favorite Part: Face design 

My Fifth and final essential is a lucky charm. A $2 bill. I got this bill when I was in elementary school. I've had this in my wallet since the day I got it. It's been through the wash, the mud, breakups, adventures, and still managed to still look like actual currency. Even when I desperately needed money, and there have been times, I keep this bill as an off limits lucky charm. I honestly cannot remember why this bill was so important to me. Maybe it's the styling, maybe because it's uncommon, or maybe it was just something unique and different, but either way it's always with me.

So that's it. These were the 5 non-camera gear related essentials that I take with me on my adventures. Be sure to let me know what your adventure essentials are!

Until next time, cheers.

 

Stephen

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Favorite Shots Episode 2

Happy Monday, everyone.

Well those are two words that I rarely get put together, haha. I spent most of last week up in Seattle, Washington and most of the surrounding area. Unfortunately this wasn't a camping and hiking adventure, though I am planning a few of those even as I type this, but it was still great to get out of Oregon and head back up north. 

The purpose of this trip was all about relaxation. As some of you other small business owners know, when you are self-employed you don't stop working; 6 am to 12pm day in and day out I am editing images, film, websites, etc, and it's been a long time since I took a restful work-cation. Although my time in Seattle was just a quick overnight stay, it really relaxed the mind and my creative spirit. The city was essentially empty and the sky was the clearest I have seen since summer ended. It was really hard to leave.

The same day I returned to Portland I decided to drive out to Mt. Hood since the skies here were also clear as a bell and the mountain was freshly covered from a recent dumping of snow. The roads down to Trillium Lake were dusted in snow that was quickly becoming pressed into a layer of ice. Although my SUV was able to traverse the steep hill and an ice, others were not so fortunate. There were a few sedans and coupes lining the sides, and at one point the center, of the road and people were working together to get them unstuck. Even with the delays, and the total driving time for that day coming to 9.5 hours, it was still enjoyable and the trip to the mountain was worth the view. I love when winter starts and the snow begins to fall. 

Be sure to check the gallery below to see some of my favorite shots from this past week. 

Make sure to follow me on Instagram for the latest images! @imstephenmiller

Favorite Shots Episode 1

Hi guys!

Hope everyone is enjoying no-school/no-shave/no-sun November! Hahaha... I am, despite the painfully grey and dismal sky and not to mention the waaaaay too early Christmas music flooding the speakers and floors of every shopping center in America. :P Then again, it is halfway through the month. I cannot believe how fast this month is going!

I wanted to introduce a new thing here on my website, "Favorite Shots." My hope is that this will be a weekly round up of my favorite photographs from the previous week. The reason for doing this is not everyone has an Instagram account and can't always see the work I am posting there, therefore this is the easiest way of sharing my work with all of you! 

Sometimes I will include other mediums of mine, but "Favorite Shots" will be predominantly dedicated to my photography and will time to time feature other photographer's work that I love and encourage you to support too! 

Make sure to click through the gallery, give this post a like, and let me know which one is your favorite in the comments section or on my Facebook page!  

Enjoy your day! 

Cheers,

Stephen

The Columbia Gorge at my Feet

©Stephen Miller 2015

Setting up this business has taken a toll on my social life… to say the least. I have recently made the conscious decision to once again regularly hangout with friends whom I haven’t seen in a very long time. The trouble is we aren’t 18 any more. Most of us have full time jobs, and some even have families now. Which is by no means a negative thing! It’s great that everyone is growing up and finding their way, but it makes staying in touch all the more difficult of a thing to do. So, what then? Do I go out and find all new friends and start over? No, but adding new people to my group of friends is great, and I am hoping that as I get more and more in to my photography and YouTube that my group of friends who share common interests and desire to make online content expands.

Now more than ever I have a strong desire to be adventurous. When I think about the things I want to do to create my content I can’t stop picturing myself no longer in my current city. What I think I want more than anything right now is a place uniquely and truly my own. However I realize that maybe it’s not quite time to step completely out on my own again, but I can make the effort to “baby step” it.

What’s been really exciting for me as of late is with this whole move to create content for online consumption is the amount of support and participation I have received from people who initially I would have expected to not “get it” or see the reason/appeal to it. Rather, I have gotten excited text messages and emails encouraging me to go for it. Even better, in specific relation to my vlogging, people are open to it and are curious and asking me questions about it.  It’s awesome. For so long I stupidly thought that people in my group of friends wouldn’t vibe this kind of work or interest, but I was COMPLETELY mistaken.

In an effort to jump-start this new attitude and lifestyle I am looking to live, I am trying to do more activities that require full body effort. I have always been envious of one of my best mates, Danny, who is this outdoors buff –cross fit doing- mountain man and his adventures hiking, backpacking, and camping. He’s really inspired me to try and take up those activities more seriously, not only for health reasons, but also for work. 

©Stephen Miller 2015

That’s why this past week he and I went out on my first hike in probably almost a year. Yeah, I know… Sad. Danny and I decided to do the Drift Tail Falls hike just outside of Lincoln City here on the Oregon coast. The weather was supposed to be wet, cold, and overcast. Perfect. Overcast weather allows for excellent diffusion of light and the wet plant life will add great texture to images. Whilst driving the hour and half long route to the trailhead I filled Danny in on my business plans and introduced him to my new Canon 5d mark iii and Vlark, my vlogging camera. He got to experience what it’s like to vlog a day first hand and surprisingly was really natural and comfortable in front of the camera!

When we reached the trailhead the ground was still kind of damp from the rain earlier that morning and there were only a few other cars in the lot. Perfect! However, what ended up happening is as we hiked down to the beautiful waterfall the temperature quickly changed and what was supposed to be cold and overcast quickly became hot, muggy, and clear skies. Unfortunately that meant we would arrive at the waterfall during high sun – meaning the worst light to shoot in because it either underexposes or overexposes the image out of the gate. I still managed to get a few shots that I was satisfied with, but it means I will have to head back when the weather is better to get the shots I wanted. Not a problem!

©Stephen Miller 2015, Drift Tail Falls 

©Stephen Miller 2015

The next day I had plans to meet up with a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in over a year. I have known her since elementary school and she is essentially a sister. She had recently purchased a new camera, after my encouraging text messages haha, and wanted to learn how to use it properly. She was so excited, how could I say no? Besides, having another friend interested in photography is a total plus.

Susan and I decided to head up to Rowena’s Crest for the sunset. Let me tell you, if you live in Oregon or are visiting here, and you haven’t gone to the Columbia Gorge to watch the sunset, you are truly missing out on one of the most beautiful views in the entire state. I updated each other on life and business, just like I did with Danny, and received nothing but positive and excited feedback on my new ventures and directions. Whew.

© Stephen Miller 2015

As we arrive at the top of the Columbia gorge we are greeted by a nearly set sun and a beautifully lit landscape filling the 360° view.  We got out our cameras and began her lesson. We spent probably a good hour there practicing landscape and portrait photography. I was surprised how easily she got it. Soon she was off shooting her own compositions and doing rather well and we have agreed to do more “Instagram missions” in the future!

All in all I had an amazing week. This upcoming week is packed with things to do and I am hoping to sneak a hike or two in.

Hope you all had an amazing week and weekend too. Be sure to let me know what your favorite places are to visit or hike! My list keeps growing!

In the mean time, remember to never be afraid of where you have come from and always be excited about where you are going.

Cheers,

Stephen

Going solo!

Hey everyone!

Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday, even though I know that since it is Monday 90% of the world is not having a good day, but still. Haha. Anyways, I wanted to share some exciting news with you all incase you hadn’t watched the YouTube vlog I posted a few days ago.

Starting next February I will have my very first solo exhibition of my work! I have been invited by a fellow artist to showcase my photography at the gallery she manages inside a healthcare facility. The gallery features a lot of local artists and they are hard at work at becoming a staple in the Hillsboro art community. I am very excited for the show, not only because it’s the first solo show I will be having, but because it’s giving me a ton of inspiration for the theme I want to showcase. Now I won’t give too much away right now, mostly because I am still planning it, but I think the subject matter will be something a lot of people will be able to connect with while still allowing me to express my own artistic perspective.

The show will be held in Hillsboro, Oregon. The exhibition I believe will be up for three months and there will be 20-30 pieces showcased.

In preparation for the show I have started to plan out a month – month and a half –long adventure up the pacific coast and along side the cascades for later this year. In addition to new works for the show, I have also started my own YouTube channel where people can watch my vlogs, photography videos, how to’s, and travel adventures! The trip will also to help me create great new content to be featured on the channel, and as part of my plan I will be developing a multi-episode series for the channel about the trip and what it takes to put a show together!

I am so excited I can barely type!

My YouTube channel will be the place that my audience will get to know me the best. My vlogs will allow people to share in my daily life as well as the other content I create to showcase my work and interests! I want my channel to be a positive and honest place. No lies or secrets. I want it to be my happy place.

If you get a chance make sure to jump on over to YouTube and subscribe to my channel. You can click right here to open it! Right now I currently have mostly vlogs up, but in the coming months additional content is coming!

Thank you to all of you for being a part of this journey with me. My love and thanks to you all. I have never been more excited for the future and am truly humbled and honored that I am fortunate to be chasing my dreams.

Much respect and gratitude,

 

Stephen

 

ArtSplash!

Yesterday concluded the three-day art show at Tualatin’s ArtSplash. It was such an interesting show. Due to the nature of smaller shows you are more likely to meet your neighbors and get to know not only about their art and products, but also about them as people. That is probably the thing I enjoyed most about this show:  getting to expand my network of artists.

Years ago when I chose to leave my art behind, albeit temporarily, but I effectively shut down the opportunity for creating a circle or network of people that shared the exact artistic interests and experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I love my group of friends more than anything else, but not really having any one to share the more creative side from the perspective of one also being an artist was something I always felt was missing. This show provided me the chance to really socialize with other artists and engage socially in a way that I haven’t really done in a long time; creator to creator.

I got to know several local artists in varying mediums from jewelry to oils. Although the rain kept the larger crowds away in the later days of the show, we as participants we then granted the opportunity to chit chat and get to know one another. *I’ll make sure to link and list those (that I know of) that I met at the end of this post.

Day one was great! Set up was a breeze and there was excitement in the air. We had a great band and singer perform that night and as the show went on we got to rock out from our booths. Haha. Yes, we actually did dance and sing right along with the crowd, and after the show ended they came back in to the tent and spent the remained of the show talking, shopping, and having an all around good time.

The second day kicked off with dark clouds and rain… not a great way to start day two, haha, to say the least. Time seemed to kind of drag on as the rain came down. People tended to stay indoors for most of the day but even still the crowd would ebb and flow. By about 4 o’clock though it was apparent that we, the staff and participants, were the only ones really there. So what did we do? We made the best of it! A group of us opened a bottle of wine (or two), laughed, and shared stories from our adventures and family life. We had a blast. Yes, selling out every piece in stock would have been FANTASTIC, but I have to say, that evening was so much fun. I even ended up giving some serious marketing advice in the form of Instagram tutorials. I love talking about that stuff; it makes me feel useful, lol.

The third day started out great. After Saturday’s less then desired crowd activity, the artists (at least in my group) returned with renewed energy and positive attitudes. We weren’t even officially open yet and a few of us had some sales! It was a great start. The weather was cooperating and the show had invited chalk artists to come out and bring the sidewalks to life! There was even a gigantic kid’s art section, which was filled with so many creative and colorful chalk drawings from the visiting kids! I ended up having my most successful day on Sunday. The large canvas print I had done of Smith Rock sold at the end of the day and I had a woman who wants to talk about a large order for her office. It felt great to hear how much people enjoyed and wanted my work.

I have to give major kudos to Heidi and her team for organizing and coordinating such a well put together show. They provided us participants with marketing materials, set up materials, extra art racks, quality 24-hour security, and a wonderfully clean environment to showcase our work. So Heidi, if you by chance are reading this, thank you again for all of your hard work and to your phenomenal volunteers. Thank you!

I am taking the feedback from this show and moving forward with some other ideas I have to make future shows even better.

Thank you again to all those who made this show so enjoyable.  Be sure to click through some of the pictures below and to check out each of the artists listed below.

Here’s to future successes for us all!

Stephen 


My Direction, Not One Direction

 Now that I am a full time photographer (among my other mediums) I am trying to figure out what exactly my niche is going to be. The problem is, thanks to my personality, limiting myself to one focus is an extremely difficult challenge for me. I have some “thoughts” on specialization in the art world which I will reserve for another time, but for the purpose of this post I think I'll just keep it to a simple “no thank you” to the popular definition of specialization and just make my own! Why? Why not!

There are three styles/or types of photography I want to focus on (for the time being). First, I think waterscapes will always be the most appealing kind of photos for me. There's just something about the water that is so... appealing. If I want to get all hippie-dippie for a moment, it's my “element,” for lack of a better term.

The second is the broadest of terms, “Nature Photography,” which really means anything from geology to animals to the night sky. It allows me the variety that I'm looking for with a name that people can understand when they ask what kind of photography I do.

Third and (not) finally, “Travel Photography.” I have what I've long-lovingly called, “gypsy syndrome.” Gypsy syndrome is simply this; I don't like to be in one place for too long. Consider this; I moved 15 times from the time I graduated high school in 2006 to the time I returned to Tigard to work for my father's firm in 2013. I moved for no other reason than boredom. By being a travel photographer I am going to get the stimulation I need, mentally and spiritually, in order to stay sane.

Why is this important? Well, as I have been applying to shows and galleries I realized I needed a larger direction. What's going to happen after these shows? What then? Well, do I want to simply just do art shows and Saturday markets, or do I want something more? 

I started to contemplate a question that so many are facing; How can I do what I love and make a living doing it? I struggle with this question so heavily because there isn't just one thing I love nor is there just one thing I would like to do for a living. Hell, I can't even narrow it down to list of top 10! And before anyone says the phrase, “you have your whole life ahead of you, you have time,” let me just stop you now. We live in an extremely agist society, once you hit thirty you're either doing what will support you for the rest of your life or you're considered a failure. It's a negative perspective I know, and I don't actually support this view, I want a more cultural positive outlook/cultural attitude . However, the truth is, you don't have the rest of your life to figure out what you want to do, at least from a societal and cultural perspective. In all honesty, that's not something I want for myself regardless if the glass is half full or half empty. So how can I defeat this challenge and come out a victor? Combinations.

Combining two or more goals, styles, dreams, or mediums in to one is looking to be the best option for me, and one that I am actually excited about! I am considering doing a combination of travel photography and travel writing. Blogging is probably the most common form, but I also want to have my work in print for nothing more than sheer ego. WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO HAVE A BOOK THEY WROTE? That thing would be in every Christmas, birthday, and holiday gift bag for the next year!!! ...Okay, not really, but you can bet I would put it on my front entry table and causally point it out every time a new guest arrives, like any good host would, of course.

So this leads me to the point of this post: future plans.

Looking at my current schedule and potential schedule I realized that traveling more is going to be a real opportunity for me! YES! Domestic travel I think I could just pick destinations as I go, but for international travel I actually have a list. In order of my desire to go:

  1. Japan, return this time with my camera in tow and really take the time to photograph the areas in which I go.
  2. Iceland –
  3. Northern Europe
  4. Thailand
  5. South Korea
  6. Bali
  7. Galapagos
  8. Brazil
  9. Fiji
  10. Canada (Northeastern area)

Surprisingly, travel expenses are mildly affordable around the time of year I want to visit each of the aforementioned locations which is like icing on the cake.

My goal with my travel and travel photography is to not only have the occasional exhibition, but also to tell my stories in print. Blogging is great, and it can build an amazing audience, but print is something everyone loves. I hope to write small travel books, more memoirs, of my adventures in hopes of passing on all that I learn. Even if it's a simple 50 page pamphlet with TONS of colorful pictures and illustrations. Who knows?

I'm starting to have a direction, which is something I have never experienced before. Even though it's small and my internal compass will forever be spinning around like a drunk man on an office chair, it still gives me an achievable goal.

 
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Baby steps... ugh.

Cheers,

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