Entranced: Andrew Miller Finds His Focus January 29 2015, 0 Comments « Back to Blog
Guest writer Colin Wiseman of Frequency takes a look into the mind of photographer Andrew Miller.
Andrew Miller grew up as a Socal park rat. But you wouldn’t know it by his imagery. Expansive landscapes with a snowboarder as a diminutive-yet-effective focal point are his specialty. His travels in the past year have included an epic Himalayan expedition with Jeremy Jones for Higher, AK missions with Absinthe Films, and extensive splitboard explorations around his adopted hometown of Salt Lake City, UT, among other destinations. His clientele includes the likes of Patagonia, The North Face, Jones Snowboards, and editorial titles worldwide. So how did the 28-year-old lensman become a rising icon in the world of snowboard photography? It certainly wasn’t intentional.
Shangri La PC: Andrew Miller
Miller grew up in the southern California town of Loma Linda, about 45 minutes from Big Bear and the same distance from the beach. He skated, surfed and rode at Snow Valley. He took some photography classes in high school, but he was more interested in chasing sponsorship in front of the lens rather than contracts behind it. He moved to Mammoth in ’05 after graduating high school. “Mammoth had one of their biggest years in ’05-’06 and I remember being bummed that the park wasn’t up because it snowed so much,” Miller says. “It’s embarrassing to say it now, but that’s where I was mentally, I just wanted to hit big jumps. Moving out to Utah was an eye-opener.”
It started with a blown knee in 2006, then a trip to SLC with two feet of new snow the next year. Miller relocated in 2008 with his girlfriend at the time so she could attend nursing school. He’d shot a bit of park stuff after his knee injury “just to stay involved with the scene” and sold a few shots, but didn’t see photography as a career path. Then Miller linked up with the now-defunct snowrev.com. For two years he chased the contest scene, learning the ropes by studying the process of other photographers in attendance. “You go to the US Open and Blotto [Dean Gray]’s out there, and Nick Hamilton, a bunch of different photographers from the major magazines,” Miller says. “I would see where they were shooting from and the camera they were using, and study their style. I would then look at their web galleries and compare my photos to theirs. To see their different perspectives helped me out a ton with learning my way around a camera, and different angles, and trying to get creative.”
Nepali Baba PC: Andrew Miller
After two years, Miller was over contests. He built a splitboard in Chris Coulter’s garage and spent his free time exploring the Wasatch. He quit Snowrev and went to Alaska in the spring of ‘09. It was the antithesis to the contest scene—rather than focusing on a certain rider doing a certain trick off a certain feature, the mountains became something worth documenting in and of themselves. “If you can show a cool scene then someone who isn’t necessarily into snowboarding can even look at it and say, ‘Oh, that’s a cool image,’” Miller says. “I tend to have a looser style when shooting big lines because I want to see the whole line—I want to be able to envision myself riding the line, or at least see what the guy’s doing. I love those shots where you see the whole track and the big turn—you can really imagine yourself doing it.”
His big break came in the biggest mountains of all. In the fall of 2013, Jeremy Jones offered Miller a spot on his Himalayan expedition for Higher on a week’s notice. Miller jumped on board. A shot of Jones’s impossibly-heavy spine line at 21,000 feet landed on the March, 2014 cover of TransWorld SNOWboarding along with a lengthy feature article. “It blew my mind, it was so surreal,” Miller says of the experience. “It sounds corny, but I didn’t even have time to think about it. I was really scared, thinking of the Himalayas and the fear of the unknown. But I just had to do it. It was a life changing experience, for sure.”
Throne Room Of The Gods PC: Andrew Miller
That trip led to extensive travel for TransWorld last winter, including stints in Revelstoke, BC and Haines, AK with the Absinthe Films crew, carving out a niche in the big mountain arena. He shot the cover of Absinthe’s 2014 release, Heavy Mental, an image of Manuel Diaz ripping a heavily-exposed face. It’s an unlikely niche for a contest kid from Socal, that of the big mountain specialist. But Miller feels there is more to his imagery than just big lines. “I want to be well-rounded so if anyone wanted to hit me up in any situation they could count on me to produce good images no matter the conditions or the vibe,” Miller says. “This past year I proved that to myself—I went to the Himalayas, I went Japan, I went to Mica [BC] to shoot out of the heli, and to snow camp for seven days. Then I went down to Chile and had some of the worst conditions down there, but still came back with images, and also shot the [Mt Baker] Banked Slalom and Dirksen Derby. I don’t want to be pigeon holed into any particular genre—I just want so bad to get a good shot because these riders are risking their lives and putting themselves in danger, counting on us to be able to do our jobs and get the shot.”
Indeed, more than anything, Miller is driven to continue to progress his photography just as his subjects progress their own abilities. His goals for the future are simple: “I want to continue to produce good images and get better and shoot more and see more places man, because it’s never ending. With photography, there’s always something to learn, always some new place to go, something new to see and something to capture in a new way. The more I shoot snowboarding, the more I’m entranced by the process.”
On top of the world.
See more of what this stellar individual has done here.