Gift idea: Photobook for your graduate

I had a father from Chicago contact me about doing some photography of his daughter who was a senior at St. Olaf College in Northfield. They wanted to make a photo book with some professional pictures of her life at college. She played ultimate frisbee, and they gave me her game schedule, so I went in stealth mode and photographed her and her team playing.

It was loads of fun, even though I felt a little bit like a stalker. I captured her making some great catches and throws, and then I turned away and acted like I was photographing other frisbee players or other teams that were nearby. I don’t often get to do sports photography, but I do enjoy it a lot.

The final book contains images that the family shared with me as well as my original photography. I have also taken many stock images of St. Olaf College over the years, so I used some of those in the book.

The final hard cover fine art book turned out great. It provided a little snapshot of her time at college that she can keep for the rest of her life.

I think this is a great idea for any parents who are looking for a unique gift idea. Artistic, high quality photobooks are a great gift anytime! But of course, I’m a photographer, so I’m a bit biased.

Posted in Senior Photography

High School Senior Photography Season

I can’t believe another high school senior photography season is upon us already. They come around really fast. I love photographing high school seniors. I used to do seniors inside in a studio, with an option to photograph students outside. I always loved it when one would pay extra to have pictures taken outside. However, I have been photographing graduates outside for many years now, with no extra charge. Since photography has gotten more casual overall, I find many families are fine just photographing their seniors outside. 

If you are going to have your senior portraits taken outside, Northfield is a great community to do that in. While I photograph seniors from around the area, such as Lakeville, Apple Valley, Cannon Falls, Farmington, Faribault and more, they love the options that are presented to them for photography in Northfield. 

Usually we start out at St. Olaf, which offers many great opportunities for photography. I continue to find new locations up on the hill that offer a variety of backdrops and settings. For many of the senior photographs, we move down the hill and do photography in the downtown area also. (I don’t charge extra for multiple locations.) Again, many options abound. I love some of the alleyways we have in Northfield. They have character. Also, we can do some photography by the river and the river walk area. Sometimes we’ll do some on the sidewalk in front of a business or behind a business by the fire escape. There are many options for high school senior photography locations, and I’m also open to your suggestions. 

I like senior photography and trying to bring out the senior’s personality in the images. I work to put them at ease and help them relax while we are getting ready to take the pictures and while we take them. Overall, I think most of my clients find the process enjoyable. I often do siblings of those I have photographed years before, so that says something about how the process went and how they liked their pictures. So, if you have a senior and you are looking for a place to have his or her senior pictures done, please contact me. I’d love to talk to you about them. Thanks for looking. 

Posted in Senior Photography

Happy (belated) 100th Anniversary National Parks!

2016 was an amazing year for me regarding landscape photography. I had the opportunity to visit three of our national parks. Not just one or two, but actually three different parks, and I, of course, did landscape photography in all of them. More about that later.

First, if you ever get the opportunity to visit a national park, do it. Our parks are amazing places of scenic beauty that will help lower your blood pressure and calm your soul. There are nearly 60 national parks, so I am sure you can find one you would like to see. But, besides national parks, there are national monuments, memorials, lakeshores, parkways, preserves, reserves and many more, totaling more than 400 locations. If you are looking for an experience, visit to search through them all. There is a lot to do and see.

The national parks were founded in 1916 as a way to preserve the scenic wilderness and historic places in our nation. I have been to many of the parks over the years, but as I said, 2016 was special in that I visited three of them on the parks 100-year anniversary. Did you know I visited two of the most visited national parks according to 2015 attendance numbers?

Grand Canyon, Glacier and Smoky Mountains

In January, my wife and I had a wonderful anniversary weekend in a historic cabin right near the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Grand Canyon was the second-most visited national park in 2015 with 5.5 million visitors. In August, our family visited Glacier National Park in Montana. Glacier saw 2.3 million visitors in 2015 making it the 10th most visited national park. And, this fall I camped in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a few days. (I visited the area about four weeks before the severe fires broke out.) The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the most visited national park in 2015 with 10.7 million visitors.

Because I am a landscape photographer, I gravitate toward the national parks that offer spectacular scenic beauty. In the future, I will write more detail about each trip and provide details about some of the images I captured. Let me just say, I am thankful that our nation protects amazing areas that people can visit and see the beauty of creation. When I visit national parks, I certainly love to shoot fine art images that will make beautiful wall prints to decorate anyone’s home or office, but I realize there are many others who just love to go and enjoy being in nature. Whatever your preference, our national parks are there for everyone to enjoy. So, I hope you do take the time to experience these beautiful treasures called National Parks.

Posted in Fine Art, Landscape, Scenic

Newly remodeled Northfield Library

The Northfield Public LIbrary is one of 65 public libraries in Minnesota built with money from Andrew Carnegie. It was orginally completed in 1910, remodeled in 1985 and remodeled in 2016.

The Northfield Public LIbrary is one of 65 public libraries in Minnesota built with money from Andrew Carnegie. It was orginally completed in 1910, remodeled in 1985 and remodeled in 2016.

The city of Northfield recently remodeled the Carnegie library, built in 1910. The Northfield library is a beautiful place to relax and read. It has a nice historic feel, which is perfect for a historic small town. A number of years ago, they city began talking about the need for expanding the library. Some said it could not be expanded where it currently resides, and the city would need to build a new one at another location. Many people, myself included, did not want to see that happen. Fortunately they found a way to expand the library at the current location, so we now have a library that merges the historical and the modern.

You can see this connection in the photograph I have taken of the library at night. See the large glass front on the building along with the historic brick structure. Once I saw the remodeled structure, I knew I had to get a night shot of it. There are many good angles on the building, but I settled on this one where you can see the main sidewalk leading down to the entrance. For this night shot, I wanted to get as much western sky in the image as I could to provide the deep blue color to contrast against the warm interior lights.

I like doing fine art photography around Northfield, and I find night pictures captivating. See my previous entry about the movie that was filmed in Northfield, called “Love Always, Santa.” I photographed the “Bun Also Rises” (aka. Hideaway) coffee shop that was featured in the movie. Just like this image, I photographed it after dark. I hope to do some more night photography around Northfield in the future.

You can see more of my Northfield images, some taken after dark, under the Fine Art store at the top of the page. Select “Northfield” under the “Galleries” menu on the far right of the page.

Posted in Fine Art, Northfield

Love Always, Santa

A movie made here in Northfield: Love Always, Santa!

It’s been the talk of the town for the past year or more. A movie was filmed in Northfield that will be shown on the Hallmark channel on Sunday, November 6. It is called “Love Always, Santa.” You can learn more about it here. In fact, as I write this, the city of Northfield is actually previewing the movie, and they have packed out the Northfield Middle School to watch it.

Our little town of Northfield, Minnesota, is a quaint, charming small town. It has a historic, picturesque downtown with architecture that is great for making images. I have been photographing scenes around Northfield for many years. (My wife and I moved here in 1998, but I’m not sure if we are considered “townies” yet.) I have produced some fine art images from around town that make great wall prints for office or home decor, so when I learned that much of the filming was taking place in our wonderful town, I wanted to capture some more images.

One location that is featured in the movie is the Hideaway Coffee Shop owned by the Spauldings. I wanted to make images of the coffee shop that would illustrate the establishment’s charm and warmth. (My wife and I love to go to the Hideaway on coffee dates.) I decided an evening photograph would be best, so I went downtown at dusk and started scoping it out. I tried some shots from directly across Division Street. Fortunately, there were no vehicles in front when I got there, so I had a clear view for photography. After taking some photographs from straight on, I decided I wanted something with more depth, so I moved onto the sidewalk right in front of the Hideaway. I used a wide angle lens, so I could get really close and show the entire exterior. In the images with this post, I show a vertical photograph from the south side and a horizontal image from the north side. I prefer the horizontal view. I purposefully made sure you could see down the sidewalk and the dark blue sky. I also wanted to leave the streetlight in the picture because I think it adds to the overall picture. With my wide angle lens, I could get close to the planters, which give the picture depth. I also had to avoid the bright lights of the business next door that would overpower the Hideaway’s lights.

Why the four images?

Look close at all four images. As you can see, there are really only two different angles. As I looked at these images, I decided to try a painting filter in Photoshop. The images with the bright colors and textures just seemed like they should be painted rather than photographed. Since I’m not a painter, I had to manipulate the images after capture to give them that painted look. So, with each angle of the coffee shop, I have one photograph with no filter and one photograph with a painted filter. Which do you like better?

Overall, I think the final images capture the charm and warmth of this beautiful coffee shop that you will see if you watch the movie “Love Always, Santa” when it airs.

If you are on Instagram, I’d love for you to follow. Click the Instagram logo at the bottom of the page or find me @JoeMillerPhoto. Thanks for reading!

Some links to pages on Fine Art America that have my work and others featuring Northfield:

northfield mn art prints for sale
northfield mn canvas prints for sale

Posted in Fine Art, Northfield