The Amy Miller Mixtape
There is a photographic revolution taking place and ACP Executive Director, Amy Miller, is leading the city of Atlanta into a full scale celebration of all things photography. Atlanta Celebrates Photography is a festival that has grown and morphed into an incredible event. The organization is active year round–the Festival is a 6 weeks long event, with most programming in the month of October. Hundreds of photographers will have the opportunity to exhibit their work in a myriad of venues and neighborhoods, and the festival is rich with lectures, exhibitions, workshops, portfolio reviews, and lots and lots of photographs–and if you haven’t been paying attention, ACP is the largest annual community-oriented photo festival in the US. The leadership it requires to create such a large scale annual event takes a special person and a special set of skills. Amy brings a BFA from University of Georgia, an MFA in photography from Pratt Institute, gallery experience at the Alan Klotz Gallery in NYC, and was a visual resources director at the Pratt Institute Visual Resources Department in New York. Later, Amy moved to Atlanta and worked as Gallery Director for Fay Gold Gallery, a position she held for over seven years. In 2007, Amy enthusiastically accepted the position of Executive Director of Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and for the past 6 years, she has built a platform for photography like none other.
In addition, Amy is a licensed Fine Art Appraiser, specializing in photography. She has served as juror for numerous art and photography competitions hosted by such organizations as the Atlanta Photography Group, Roswell Photographic Society, the Piedmont Driving Club, Heidelberg USA, and Virginia Highland Summerfest. She is a member of ArtTable, a national organization for women in the arts. She was invited in 2009 to curate a photography exhibition on behalf of ACP for a photography festival in Lishui, China. Amy has served as a portfolio reviewer at Fotofest in Houston TX, and at Photolucida in Portland OR. She also sat on a distinguished panel of reviewers for Critical Mass, a nation-wide photography competition.
Atlantic Celebrates Photography is in full swing during the month of October, many of the exhibitions featured below are opening soon and the ACP Portfolio Review events begin on October 12th, 2013. The photographic community is so lucky to have Amy Miller as a photographic leader, innovator, and champion — it gives me great pleasure to share The Amy Miller Mixtape.
Tell us about your growing up and what brought you to photography.
I grew up in a great old farmhouse in Conyers, GA. My parents still live there. I spent lots of time outdoors climbing trees and riding my bike. That is where I learned to love nature. I was always artistic, constantly drawing and making things. When I went to college at UGA, I knew I wanted to be an art major. Sometime around my sophomore year, my grandfather passed away. He always loved photography and had lots of cameras and interesting equipment. An old Bolex 16mm movie camera, lots of homemade 3D viewmasters, studio lighting, etc. My father got all of that – and I loved going through it with him. He gave me an old Canon AE1 and I took a photography class. After that year, I changed my major to photography. Something about the alchemy of being in the darkroom, the instant gratification of knowing when you got “the shot”, and the transformation that occurs when you view the world as made of light and form and decisive moments.
What is your title and job description and tell us about a typical day?
I am the Executive Director of Atlanta Celebrates Photography. We produce the largest annual community oriented photography festival in the country. We are a very small organization, with two full time and one part time staff persons. The size of our organization versus the scope of our mission dictates that there are rarely typical days. That is one of the things I love about my job.
I spend a lot of time going to meetings where valuable connections are made which may result in programming partnerships, sponsors, donors, volunteers, etc. I spend a lot of time on Board meetings and governance tasks, fundraising, donor cultivation and appreciation, I am also the bookkeeper and HR department, and then there is the actual planning and execution of the festival. There are a lot of other things that I do, but this is the bulk of it. A typical day will include some of all of the things I just listed.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
Getting my MFA from Pratt Institute in NY, Landing a job at a NY photo gallery (Alan Klotz Gallery.) Then, becoming Gallery Director at Fay Gold Gallery in Atlanta (where I met many photo-world icons) – a job I held for 7 years before joining ACP. Curating several photography exhibitions at the world’s busiest airport (Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International). Getting invited to China for a photo festival, and then of course, I am proud at how ACP has grown during my time here.
What do you look for when attending a portfolio review?
I have experience on all sides of the photo industry (photographer, gallerist, curator, administrator) and so I mainly pay attention to where the photographer is in his/her journey. Some may need help understanding their own strengths, some may have a fully complete project that is gallery-ready, some are at the point where they need clarification on who their potential audience may be, some need help strengthening their concept or presentation. I enjoy being able to contribute on all of these levels, but of course I’m always looking for the photographer that has the golden ticket – a well thought-out concept that demonstrates a unique point of view utilizing a high degree of visual skill, shown to me in luxurious prints.
Any advice for photographers coming to a review event?
There is so much advice that I could give for this, but the most important thing is for photographers to consider what it is that they realistically hope to gain from a review. Not everyone is ready for a gallery show or a publishing deal. Only a handful of photographers at any review have that type of success. I have seen photographers who, although their work was just not there, were dead set on their goal of getting a gallery show. When this didn’t happen, they viewed the experience as a waste of time. What they neglected was all the amazing advice and potential contacts they got instead. Because it wasn’t that offer of a show, they were not interested. Part two of this answer is to ask questions. The more you are prepared to explore and engage your reviewer, the more you will get. If they aren’t addressing concerns you have about your project, ask them.
The other piece of advice is true of life in general. Follow up. I hear success stories that happen 1 to 2 years after a portfolio review because the photographer followed up and stayed connected. This has happened to me last year. I was able to give a show to a photographer whose work I had seen two years earlier. The circumstances were finally right.
What is something unexpected that we don’t know about you?
This is just a factoid that no one really knows: In first grade, I had a small business drawing tattoos on the other schoolchildren. The anchor was 5 cents, the mermaid was a quarter. I drew lots of mermaids and all the boys were repeat customers. I had a little white box where I kept the money. I was earning enough to pay for my own lunch at school. My Dad was proud of his little entrepreneur. The school – not so much. They called my parents, who, in the end, reluctantly agreed to make me stop. That was my first taste of a career in art!
And because this is a Mixtape, what is your favorite song, band, and do you dance?
Yes! I will dance whenever so inclined. In fact, I danced last night to T Rex. I love most kinds of music (classic rock – just listened to Rick Derringer, Pink Floyd and Santana yesterday, Electronic- such as Lamb and Thievery Corporation, Soul R & B – Erykah Badu is great, Funk – James Brown is one of the most danceable, Parliament, etc.) Music is such an important part of establishing or maintaining (or changing!) a mood. My favorite band probably changes each day – again, all depends on my mood.
And now, Amy Miller takes over:
Atlanta Celebrates Photography turns 15 this year!
In 1997, a seed was planted during a conversation between two people on a road trip. They were brainstorming about how to build stronger connections between photographers. Why not have an event that would bring everyone together to form a real photography community in Atlanta?
The next year a 501(c)(3) was formed and ACP’s first event, a lecture and dinner, was attended by 100 people. ACP’s tradition of partnering with other organizations was evident from its earliest beginnings. From a single successful event, the festival has grown to almost 150 events, exhibitions and experiences showcasing almost 1000 photographers.
The ACP Festival is currently the largest annual community-oriented photography festival in the United States!
Our vision? Through excellent, highly-relevant programming, Atlanta Celebrates Photography will help make Atlanta a 21st century, international hub for photography.
Why? Photography touches everyone’s life, every single day. It is the way we share our stories. It is the language that we speak—the medium of our era.
Photographs transcend language barriers. They communicate power, love, tragedy and beauty. Photography is the common thread that connects ACP to so many people of all ages, all races and all places. At the core of the ACP Festival are featured events planned and presented (or co-presented) by ACP. An amazing part of the ACP Festival is that in addition to our own programming, the community pulls together a fantastic showcase of the diverse and impactful ways creative people are using photography.
Some ACP Featured events this year:
ACP Knowledge Series: Getty Images
October 10 @ Roger C. Williams Paper Museum
Work by Getty Images Photographerss
Thu, Oct 10, 7pm
Meet photographers Ben Lowy, Antonio Bolfo, Katie Orlinsky, and the Managing Editor for Reportage by Getty Images, Lauren Steel, to learn what they do and how they do it. How did they get where they are today? What are the most important things to consider when telling a story through photographs? How are photographers picked for assignments? How is photojournalism adapting to the changes taking place in photography today? Come be amazed by their photographs and contribute to the discussion during the Q & A session after their presentations
ACP Portfolio Walk & Reception
October 12 @ Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center
Work by various artists
Sat, Oct 12, 6–8pm
Calling all photography lovers! You are invited to view the work of the fifty-one photographers who traveled from across the country to Atlanta to participate in the ACP Portfolio Review. You can also meet the distinguished panel of reviewers!
This will be a great opportunity to see what is happening right now on the international photography scene. Get inspired, buy some great art directly from the artist, or make your next big discovery. This event is free and open to the public. Convenient parking on-street in metered spaces or in the hotel parking deck.
An Atlanta-based editorial and commercial photographer, Zack Arias has been making waves in the photography world with his straightforward and insightful approach not just behind the lens, but across the social media spectrum. From his popular blog to his new book Photography Q&A: Real Questions. Real Answers. (now available, from Peachpit Press) Zack has revealed a whole new level of transparency for the ins-and-outs of photographing professionally. From marketing tips to strobe techniques, Zack’s generosity and insight is inspiring a new generation of photographers to make great pictures while forging lasting, meaningful relationships with clients.
Deborah Willis, Ph.D. is one of the nation’s leading historians of African American photography and curators of African American culture. She is currently the Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Dr. Willis is also a prolific author. The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is the first institution in the Southeast to present Dr. Willis’ nationally touring exhibition Posing Beauty in African American Culture (September 5 – December 7). This exhibition explores the ways in which our contemporary understanding of beauty has been informed by photographers and artists working from 1890 to the present.
For this event, Dr. Willis leads a conversation examining and challenging conventional perspectives on identity, beauty, cosmopolitanism, and community in Africa and the African Diaspora. She will also examine the relationship between beauty and politics and how such topics have shaped a new understanding of reading black culture from the antebellum period to the present.
This program is organized in partnership with the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and is part of the Spelman College Ida B. Wells-Barnett Distinguished Lecture Series.
ACP Special Exhibition: Teen Spirit
October 19 @ Wing & A Prayer Studio
Sat, Oct 19, 1–4pm
What does a portrait say about a person? What does it leave to the imagination? These are questions being explored by teens admitted to Scottish Rite and Egleston children’s hospitals. It’s part of a special program created by ACP to comfort those with chronic illnesses who often find the hospital to be their second home for weeks, even months. This is their opportunity to take control of the camera, create portraits of one another, and then share their thoughts in writings such as this:
“My name is Shuron, and I am the abnorm. When you look at a person, you wonder how does that person get along with their day. Normal is just a word. No one is normal Everyone has a diagnosis. But no one’s diagnosis defines them. What is really normal? Is normal a form of judgment? Normal is just a setting on a washing machine.”
This exhibition is on view before the special reception on Thu and Fri.10am-4pm.
This special exhibition, co-sponsored by Digital Arts Studio, Morris, Manning and Martin, LLP., Charlotte Dixon, and Showcase Photographics, features both still portraits made by teens and a video documentary of their creative work.
ACP Closing Party with Slideluck Atlanta & #weloveatl
Fay Gold Gallery at the Westside Cultural Arts Center
Work by #weloveatl, various artists, Slideluck Atlanta
Fri, Oct 25, 6pm – 9:30pm
It’s our 15th birthday and ACP loves a party! What better way to celebrate the last week of the festival than to have a party featuring the 2nd annual Slideluck Atlanta, and our first collaboration with #weloveatl! Join us for food, beverages, music, photography and projections, and don’t forget to wish us Happy Birthday!
About Slideluck Atlanta: Part of a larger 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to building and strengthening community through food and art, Slideluck operates multimedia slideshows combined with potluck dinners in about 50 cities around the world.
About #weloveatl: Not just an Instagram hashtag #weloveatl is a community-driven photography movement that will be taking it to the streets with appearances of their mobile exhibition truck at various ACP events throughout the month of October. For a schedule of the truck or to sign up for an instameet, head to weloveatl.org.
Some examples of the (more than 100) community-produced ACP events:
SCAD Atlanta’s “Manipulated” show packs-in the heavy-hitters:
Sep 3–Dec 27
Work by Kim Anno, Radcliffe Bailey, Christopher Bucklow, Chuck Close, Dan Estabrook, Abelardo Morell, Richard Mosse, Mariah Robertson, Alison Rossiter, V. Elizabeth Turk
“Manipulated” features 10 artists who use experimental and alternative studio and darkroom processes to expand the expressive possibilities of photography.
High Huseum of Art
Sep 7–Feb 2, 2014
The Bunnen Collection
Work by Ansel Adams, John Baldessari, Chuck Close, William Eggleston, Nan Goldin, Clarence John Laughlin, Sally Mann, Nicholas Nixon, Cindy Sherman, Edward Weston
This installation of key photographs from the High Museum’s famed Bunnen Collection celebrates the important legacy of Lucinda Bunnen, one of the South’s most dedicated photographers and arts advocates.
1280 Peachtree St., NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am–5pm; Thu: 10am–8pm; Sun: 12–5pm
Arnika Dawkins Gallery is pleased to feature selected work from acclaimed NY Times Photographer Chester Higgins’ 39 year career.
In playful conversation with the famed Vermeer painting currently on display at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, and exhibition of photographs of various women wearing a pearl earring: Kevin Hayden presents a thoughtful and new interpretation of Vermeer’s famous painting “TheGirl with the Pearl Earring.”
Crazy Cuban Sandwich Shop
Sat, Oct 12, 12–7pm
Atlanta Roller Girls
Work by Kevin Borke, Basil Gravanis, Tim Moxley, Aldo Ramirez, Ed Selby
A photoshow, with video and live appearances from Atlanta’s “Rollergirls” at a Cuban Sandwich Shop! A single afternoon of celebration featuring photographic, video and live appearances of the Atlanta Roller Girls.
Studio photographs of homeless individuals in the Southern US, focusing on who they are rather than what they are.
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