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

Accident on Fargo's Main Avenue

Life on both the home and work fronts has been generally super busy. Entries here have been far and few between for many months. I’ve lost count. Sometimes I get in the habit of just going. You know the kind of going that takes a person from one task to the next without pause.

Well, this afternoon a big old pause popped up right in front of my new office and studio space in Fargo’s SoMA District [South of Main Avenue]. A silver SUV flipped over in the east bound lane of Main Avenue not far from my door. The driver’s vehicle went up on the curb, hit a tree and flipped, according to bystanders. He was conscious at the scene and taken to a local hospital. After hearing a bit of a commotion, I’d grabbed both my cell phone and 5D classic on my way to find out what was going on. Photographing as firefighters freed the man seemed like the natural thing to do – although I’m not sure what purpose the resulting pictures serve. The experience reminded me how quickly life can change and how everything can come to an abrupt stop. I’m off to collect my son from school, planning to drive carefully and intent on taking pause.

Thanks for looking and I’ll be back soon. – Ann