Interview with Miles Morgan
#1 Please introduce yourself
My names is Miles Morgan. As an amateur landscape photographer in the USA, I check all the boxes. Overweight, obnoxious, loud, clumsy, and extremely interested in chocolate chip cookies.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
My father, Hank Morgan, is a successful photojournalist, so I’ve always been around cameras. I took a few classes in high school, but quickly forgot the difference between aperture and shutter speed until 2009 when I was looking for a hobby. My neighbor and I decided to try shooting, so I bought a couple of flashes and and an umbrella. I set up, had him walk into the frame, and waited for him to do something. He blinked, looked at me, and waited for me to tell him to do something. Getting nervous, I went to check my gear and accidentally flashed a strobe in my face. This ended my portrait career. I decided to try landscapes and signed up for a local workshop in the Pacific Northwest. 15 minutes in, I was hooked.
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
I played the trumpet in high school. This information has never gotten me a date. Other than that, I have displayed no aptitude for art before picking up photography. Many would argue that I still display no aptitude for art.
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
One of the great fortunes of my life has been getting the opportunity to meet and become friends with some of my photographic idols. My good friend Ryan Dyar has mentored me since the fledgling stages, and I owe any minor success I have had to his tutoring. I consider him to be one of the finest landscape photographers in the world. I also take great inspiration from my Steve Turner, who manages to make incredible landscape images despite being mostly colorblind; which makes a great subject for constant ridicule. More importantly, he is the nicest person I’ve ever met. Bruce Omori continues to amaze me. After shooting an active volcano with him, I marvel at his ability to create masterpieces under some of the most stressful, difficult shooting conditions in the world. There are many incredible landscape photographers working in the world today, but a few stand out in my mind, and I study their images relentlessly: Marc Adamus, Ian Plant, Chip Phillips, Antony Spencer, David Clapp, etc… The list gets quite long.
#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Are you planning every step or is it always spontaneous?
I usually micro-manage my shoots to an obnoxious degree. For local outings in the Pacific Northwest, I will start looking at the weather a few days in advance and try to determine which subject (beach, mountains, waterfalls) will be conducive to good light on the day I am free to take pictures. From there I will narrow my quest until I have decided what particular spot I want to tackle, arriving WELL in advance of sunrise or sunset in an attempt to find a strong composition. Inevitably, it ends up horribly wrong, and all my planning goes out the window as I run around trying to make the session work with the changing weather. When I am shooting further afield, I will spend a few weeks planning an loose itinerary. This is usually futile, as the weather dictates where and when I will chase the light once I’m on location.
#6 What fascinates you in places that you shoot?
Landscape photography has enriched my life in ways that I could not possibly have dreamed about 3 years ago. I’ve seen more natural wonder than I knew existed, and my life is filled with more beauty than I ever dreamed of. I try to shoot subjects that are nature at its most dynamic, be it lava flows or the Aurora Borealis.
#7 Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?
Like most new landscape photographers, I shoot with a digital DSLR, and I find that my wide angle lens is on my camera about 90% of the time. Nothing compares to a huge print from a large format film camera, but for a variety of reasons, it just isn’t practical for me to shoot that way. My path diverges from many photographers when it comes to post processing. I enjoy spending time in the digital darkroom almost as much as I do taking the images. Perhaps because of my lack of artistic talent in any other medium, I enjoy trying to create my images in a painterly style; playing with light and color to create a whimsical scene. I have been criticized for failing to faithfully represent the scene as it naturally exists, but I offer no apology for that. I simply attempt to create images that I like – boosted colors and all. I make no claims to the contrary.
#8 Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in photography?
It certainly helps ones photography to be obsessive compulsive. For the last few years, landscapes have been a huge focus and priority in my life, and I have spent an alarming amount of time working on, studying, and thinking about photography. Some people think that photography workshops are a waste of money. Certainly you can teach yourself to shoot – there are any number of books written on the subject, but if you find the right instructors, you can learn a lot for taking a weekend course. Every day I spend a period of time looking through the works of photographers I admire, culling those images that I like most and trying to figure out why. Tinkering with photoshop has allowed me to improve my post-processing skills, which is something I enjoy. Like any skill, practice is vital. There is no substitute for actually getting out and shooting. Finally, I am ruthless when critiquing my own work. This keeps me constantly striving to improve.
#9 What do you do in your life besides photography?
I certainly won’t be quitting my day job to pursue landscape photography as a profession. I am under no delusion that I am nearly talented enough to survive in such a highly competitive field. I am a Captain at a major airline based in the United States, which demands and deserves a great deal of my time and attention.
#10 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
There are still plenty of areas that I want to explore and subjects that I want to shoot, so hopefully I will be knocking a few of those off the bucket list in coming years. Family commitments will undoubtedly slow me down before too long, so I’m hoping to get enough of a portfolio built to have images to play with during those times that I cannot fully commit myself to photography. I enjoy writing, and have a long term goal of producing a book on photography with a few twists to differentiate it from the large body of excellent work that has already been produced. I also enjoy teaching, so if I ever feel I’ve learned enough to be qualified to pass some knowledge along, I might pursue a branch of that path. I have a long way to go, but I’m certainly enjoying the walk.
Miles Morgan Official Website: