• Welcome to the online journal of visual storyteller Ann Arbor Miller.

    I am a freelance photographer and writer based in Fargo, N.D. Comments and queries are encouraged. Enjoy.

The Spaces Between: Reflecting Minnesota Relics Photographs by Ann Arbor Miller

Let’s get the embarrassment out of the way. It’s been months – and I do mean many, many months – since I’ve posted anything new on this little website. I’m sure there are some semi-valid reasons I could rattle on about, including an abundance client work and deadline-driven assignments as well as a serious illness last fall that took me out of commission for the better part of a month. The bottom line is that I haven’t yet found a way to work writing and posting journal posts into my daily, weekly or even monthly workflow. Maybe it’s because I get so tied up in whatever I’m working on at the moment that I don’t make time to reflect or share. Maybe I’m just not cut out to blog.

Thankfully, there are people in my life who remind, encourage and even pester when necessary. A few of these people are responsible for my application to the TMI Hospitality Resident Artist Program, which is open to artists in Fargo, N.D., as well as neighboring West Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn. I am the third artist selected to participate in the program and have been hard at work to develop a new series for exhibition. “The Spaces Between: Reflecting Minnesota Relics” features a selection of eight photographs and opens Thursday, March 27 with a public reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at TMI’s headquarters, located at 4850 32nd Ave. S. in Fargo, N.D.

The exhibition represents just one component of the program. I am most excited about a layer of professional development made available to me. This is coming at a good time and provides extra incentive to consider my work, my life priorities and how I want to engage with photography. I feel fortunate to have the luxury to consider these and other questions.

If you happen to be in Fargo the evening of March 27, stop by TMI and say hello. It would be great to connect.

P.S. To fellow artists in the Fargo area who are interested in the TMI Hospitality Resident Artist Program the deadline for the next round is coming up April 30. Information about that program and several others is available via The Arts Partnership.

Rehearsal with choral conductor Maria Guinand

According to most marketing pundits, the very best choice an independent photojournalist [i.e. self-employed/full-time freelancer/small business owner and often former newspaper staffer] can make is to specialize. And, they say, the more specialized the better.

In this market, there isn’t supposed to be room for the well-rounded, experienced photojournalist. More than four years into my journey of self-employment/full-time freelancing/business ownership I continue to struggle with industry definitions, implementing standard marketing practices [like regular blogging!] and crafting a concise two-minute elevator speech. Yet, I’m fortunate to work with a growing number of organizations that place value on documentary photographs that capture real people in real time.

Here are a few more items of news to share.

> In early May, I spent three days photographing the Choral Music of the Americas, an international symposium, for North Dakota State University’s Division of Fine Arts at the main campus in Fargo, N.D. The photograph above was made during a Sunday morning rehearsal and features the delightful and expressive choral conductor Maria Guinand. It was a treat to soak in the music as well as the presentations of choral professionals who are clearly passionate about their work.

> A few weeks later, Fargo Public Schools invited me to photograph at one of its elementary schools and also during a city-wide middle school track meet. I worked with FPS’ communications team several years ago to create an updated image archive and enjoyed continuing the project. Several of my photographs are featured in the district’s strategic plan, which was recently published, and one of my images will appear in an upcoming advertisement.

> The most recent issue of “Concordia Magazine,” a semi-annual publication produced by Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., features 10 of my photographs taken at the newly renovated Grant Center. The center is home to the Offutt School of Business, which opened in early 2013. My assignment was to document daily life inside the building and the sense of community that exists there.

As an aside, it wasn’t until I was pulling this entry together that I realized all three of these assignments were for educational organizations. Maybe I should specialize in educational photography?!

Anyway, if you didn’t get a chance to read Part A of the ongoing update efforts, feel free to check it out here. Thanks for looking. – Ann

Former Classroom, Sandstone School

Hello friends. It’s a fine summer day here in the Red River Valley.

Posts and updates have been absent for far too long. I’m going to largely skip over the many reasons why my online journaling efforts have dwindled. That said, I don’t think I’m built for blogging. All too often it just feels like one more thing to do. Truth be told, I’d rather be making new images, playing with Young M., reading a book [as in a traditional/physical book], drinking press pot coffee, thrift store shopping or working on our 90-year-old house. You get the picture [pun intended, sort of].

Here are a few items of news to mention.

> Inside three weeks last month, I visited 11 Minnesota communities on assignment for Ground Level, a Minnesota Public Radio News project that produces in-depth, issue-based reporting on various topics. The series “Reviving Minnesota Relics” is now online. It’s a comprehensive collection of stories [written and audio], information and photographs. The image above was created in a third-floor classroom of the vacant Sandstone School in Sandstone, Minn.

> A color photograph I made in 2011 in Fargo, N.D., titled “Eleven Past Thirteen” appears in the most recent issue of the Whitefish Review, a twice yearly journal published and produced in Montana. I’m on Page 68. Many moons ago I worked as a photographer/reporter for the Whitefish Pilot, a weekly community newspaper. It’s pretty cool to have a small connection to Whitefish again after all these years.

> Last, I joined the world of Twitter a month or so ago. You can find me at @annarbormiller. This happened for two reasons: A dear friend who is super social media savvy has been insisting on it for longer than I care to admit AND an editor whom I admire and wanted to connect with is active on Twitter. If tweeting is something you enjoy, feel free to connect.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Look for another installment of updates in a few days. – Ann

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

First, the facts. Rallies organized by the recently formed Stand Up for Women North Dakota were held in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Minot yesterday. Hundreds turned out to urge Gov. Jack Dalrymple to veto legislation aimed at limiting or banning abortion. Today, the governor signed three bills, setting the stage for legal battles, more rallies and a lot more. Fargo is home to the state’s lone abortion provider.

Second, the obvious. Abortion ranks as one of the most contentious issues in the nation.

Third, the disclaimer. I attended yesterday’s rally as an independent photojournalist who frequently documents organized events and general happenings in the Red River Valley. I present these photographs as a record of events. My guess is future rallies and counter rallies will be held. I will also photograph those gatherings as life permits.

Thanks for looking. – Ann

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

Hundreds attend Fargo rally urging veto of abortion measures

Untitled. Photography by Ann Arbor Miller

In recent years I’ve entered an increasing number of juried shows and group exhibitions. There is something satisfying about viewing a photograph – and other artwork – displayed on a wall, especially if it’s big. Much of the visual chatter we consume everyday is on a screen of some form. I don’t know about you, but looking at photographs on an iPhone, an iPad or even a decent monitor isn’t the same as standing back and looking at it in person. It’s a different experience. One of the other things I’ve come to notice is how the title of a piece plays into its interpretation. A title that resonates with the viewer seems capable of elevating work from pretty good to exceptional.

The Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists, which I’m proudly a member, holds an annual spring show here in Fargo-Moorhead. The submission deadline for the Big Art Show is quickly approaching. I selected the above photograph for the show and am now on the hunt for a suitable title. The photograph was taken last May at Red Goose Gardens near Shelly, Minn. It was created in color, but I decided to show it in black-and-white simply to allow it to read quicker. I’ve tried playing with a number of obvious words [grass, carpet, rug, arrow, shadow, pointing, direction, found object and many others], but appear to be headed toward “Untitled” and maybe that’s okay.

Here’s hoping spring decides to show her face soon. Here in the upper Red River Valley we are ready! – Ann