Auckland photographer Alan Miller has been hand printing compelling silver gelatin images for more than thirty years. Born in Oamaru in 1947, Miller spent much of the 1970s in Australia, America and the UK, returning to New Zealand to study art history in 1977. Miller travels extensively, capturing images as he sees them, developing a rich body of work.
Miller is a photographic traditionalist, for decades favouring his analogue Leica. Miller admits in an interview with Kriselle Baker, ‘I don’t like to crop, I try to get it right when I take [the image]. I think that has something to do with working with Leicas, seeing the image more directly rather than through a mirror system … you can see what’s coming into the shot and anticipate.’ He has been dedicated to the manual process of capturing, selecting and developing his own images in the darkroom, refraining from manipulating them in any way. It is only recently, with the extinction of film imminent, that Miller has embraced digital technology.
Miller’s calculated, methodical approach to image making is driven by his fundamental belief that the camera enables him to capture something that is of essence. This is demonstrable in the almost spiritual way in which he captures light, be it on water, or through mist or fog, and at times with a movement away from documentary toward abstraction. While Miller is inspired by European masters Mario Giacomelli, Robert Capa, and Josef Koudelka, his personal response to his subject matter is characterised by a quiet, emotive lyricism; an unpretentious yet poetic voice uniquely his own.
Though photography has always been a deliberately personal pursuit for Miller, his honest, direct and meditative engagement with his subject speaks to a wide audience. Working largely outside the art market system, Miller has remained untouched by modish influences and true to his convictions in the power of the captured moment.