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MIKE MILLER

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M I K E 

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Warren G
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A / F :

You went to Santa Monica High, around legends from Dogtown to Sean Penn how did that inspire you translate your work behind the lens from skateboarding to pop culture?

MM:

At the time my life revolved surfing, skateboarding and being around celebrities was the name of the game. It didn’t influence my Hip Hop. When I was young we would listen KDAY station that is now on the 93.5 FM dial, plus Saturday Night Jams and Greg “Mack Attack” Mack, influenced me quite a bit in the Hip Hop area.

A / F:

Did growing up around skateboarding, surfing, punk rock, and hip hop icons help bring your photography in the corest way?

A / F :

You went to Santa Monica High, around legends from Dogtown to Sean Penn how did that inspire you translate your work behind the lens from skateboarding to pop culture?

MM:

At the time my life revolved surfing, skateboarding and I surfed and skated with those guys. 

Actually my cousin had Alva’s plexi half pipe in his backyard, so all the big skaters were over there at that time so those were my celebrities.

When I was young we would listen 1580 KDAY and they played all funk and hip hop, plus Saturday Night Jams and Greg “Mack Attack” Mack, influenced me quite a bit in the Hip Hop area.

At the time my life revolved surfing, skateboarding and I surfed and skated with those guys. 

Actually my cousin had Alva’s plexi half pipe in his backyard, so all the big skaters were over there at that time so those were my celebrities.

When I was young we would listen 1580 KDAY and they played all funk and hip hop, plus Saturday Night Jams and Greg “Mack Attack” Mack, influenced me quite a bit in the Hip Hop area.

MM:

It is a reflection of street, Punk rock, surf, skate or the anti-establishment attitude. When I moved to 

Europe to shoot it taught me about style and fashion in photography. When I started doing Hip Hop covers my Dad had a demolition company in East Los Angeles, so I grew up around there, driving a mack truck believe it or not at 15 years old. I knew that lifestyle even though I grew up by the beach, being a surfer and a skater. So I went downtown or to south central and just winged it. My upbringing influence  a grittier documentary style to my photos. Even though I prep before every shoot with locations, props etc… and have a solid game plan.

A / F :

N.W.A.’s first album set precedence, how was it skating and kicking back with Eazy outside Ruthless Records parking lot?

MM:

I was shooting for The Source magazine, and I always brought my skateboard around the country,

and was skating around the parking lot waiting for him. Then he pulled up, and popped his trunk pulled out a Natas Kaupas deck who was an old friend of mine. I didn’t realize it was a really strong image until 20 years later. 

It really shows the L.A. lifestyle from the 

Carhartt jacket, the Cortez sneak’s, the .22, the Natas skateboard, and the Dodger cap. 

A / F :

Shooting with Pac brought praise and attention how is it capturing him in his natural element?

MM:

1 out of 10 people wouldn’t like Pac. So there would be a little mayhem when we were shooting, and had to leave locations. Plus M.C. 

Hammer brought that kind of attention when we were shooting. So things would get hairy luckily no one got hurt.

A / F :

What’s the heaviest moment you spent doing a shoot?

MM:

Recently in Compton, I was in a drive by shooting with an artist last year. Everyone dropped to the pavement. Luckly nobody was hurt

A / F :

From cruising to A$AP’s house, or snapping pics of Cube how is to shoot older and new icons in fresh ways?

MM:

Work is work, I’m young at heart. I have a formula to create a strong image. Whether it is a fashion model or a Hip Hop artist I approach it the same way. Angelina Jolie or a skater at Venice skatepark. I work hard to create something unique and different.

A / F :

If you could relive any shoot ever?

MM:

 I would love to revisit Tupac and more get behind the scenes.

A / F :

What do you think about social media and everyone having  a camera in their pocket?

MM:

Now it is very accessible to compose a situation with an Iphone, you can capture lifestyle  which I love the spontaneity of it. 

Was their more magic in the pre digital age of photography?

MM:

It was more difficult and technical. When I did a shoot I had 7-15 set ups and you didn’t have the ability to look at the back of a digital camera. That was apart of my technique that I learned when I came back from Europe to the states I was the first person to bring back cross process C41/E6 film . I always tried to be at the forefront of chemistry and film.

A / F :

Next project?

MM:

I’m working on book with The Smithsonian. Last week I shot a skate campaign coming in Nov. Shoot in Paris coming up and another in Hawaii 2018 for a catalogue. So I constantly staying busy, and I’ve stayed consistent for the last 30 years.

A / F :

You have helped forge the path for many photographers out there, what’s your advice for the next generation?

MM:

If you want to become a photographer that’s great but it is very difficult. There’s only a select few that make it. So learn other skills, how to code, final cut, Photoshop, and be a creative director, manager, publicist, agent, producer, art director, creative director etc…There are so many directions, you have to be open minded about it.

A / F :

Being a jack of all trades is critical.

MM:

That’s me!  

A / F :

Thanks Mike...