MIKE MILLER PHOTO IS WHAT TRIBE
Mike Miller might be one of the best known unknown photographers you’ve never heard of. In the Instagram age with its built-in filters, everyone’s a (supposed) photographer now. This insta-photo phenomenon might make photos accessible but Mike Miller’s photo expertise has been known since the late 80’s for capturing subject matter and captivating viewers. We were honored to have him as one of many featured artists in ” What Tribe” at Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles. His photo “Eazy Does It” with Eazy E posing with Natas Kaupas skateboard is perfect for a show about stereotype(s). The juxtaposition of two disparate “tribal “sub-cultures from Venice to South Central L.A. was a telling take on how prevalent each would eventually become. It was a sly twist on fashion, culture, sports and music media breaking invisible barriers validating and placing youth culture at the forefront.
MIke a California native has been shooting film for fashion, editorial and music for over three decades. His photos are iconic slices of California life along the lines of Craig Stecyk, Glenn Friedman and the more recent photo work of Estevan Oriol. All the photographers mentioned caught musicians, skaters, artists and creatives during early career trajectory. They pioneered capturing culture as it was being made. Later celeb photogs like Larry Clark would attempt emulation of their “less is more” raw style(s).
What is fascinating about the work of Mike Miller are his dark photo stylings mixed with the airy light of California. There is a thin line between the love and hate of the promised land in his work. His photos almost feel created in a vacuum that only Southern Californians can see, hear, know and feel. He seemingly captures L.A. hedonism as it slows down to take a sip of its own gin and juice before hitting backstreet hide outs. Mike Miller saw West Coast hip hop unfold and his classic photos may have even helped shape its visual language as well. Tragically two of Mike’s most iconic subjects, Tupac Shakur and Eazy E, are now deceased.
His self-published, “Michael Miller Photography: West Coast Hip Hop A History In Pictures is a walk down a West Coast
hip hop memory lane. His book is an atypical “who’s who ” of G-Funk luminaries. It’s a testament to any artists struggle, hustle and work ethic as they publish their own work due to lack of art gallery or music label representation. Mike has a few irons in the fire currently. Finishing up edits of his film documentary as well as launching a new multi-media website keep him busy.
Keep your eyes open and don’t sleep because Mike Miller is doing more than just California Dreaming.
Mike Miller & Douglas Miles photo
by JOPEN1 for ieLAvate Mag.