Photographer Franey Miller Interview
Keep doing you.
– Franey Miller
On a brisk January day in NYC, I met up with Franey Miller in Union Square Park to get to know the 18 year-old fashion and portrait photographer from Louisville, Kentucky a little better. She had just flown in from her hometown that morning and it was a pleasure chatting with Franey about her work and life in general. This girl knows what she wants and knows how to get what she wants. She is definitely an artist to watch for in the future.
STARDUST: Describe your perfect day.
FRANEY MILLER: My perfect day would be waking up with my boyfriend, Ryan, going on a morning run or walk. Then taking photos. Whenever I’m in NY, I shoot almost everyday and when I’m home I shoot 2 or 3 times a week. After my shoot, I like to be chill and have a relaxed day.
S: Yes, just going with the flow of things.
FM: Yeah just go with the flow. I can deal with high stress and when I’m under pressure, I work faster actually.
S: So what attracted you to fashion?
FM: In high school, I tried to branch out from just wearing jeans and a t-shirt everyday, so I found my personal style through my friends’ styles and fashion blogs online. Also especially going into thrift shops. I got a bunch of crazy dresses from thrift shops so I started shooting my friends. Then I broadened out to agency models with stylists, hair, and makeup and just blossomed from there.
S: How do you go about picking your team for a shoot?
FM: I find people usually through referrals and if someone said they liked working with someone else. There’s also this site called Model Mayhem—it’s okay but I use it for just hair and makeup and styling. I also check the person’s website to see if they’re reputable enough and if the photos are good quality I’ll contact them. It’s also a plus if I see someone else that I’ve worked with previously in their portfolio, that’s how I know they are more reputable.
S: When shooting, how do you direct your models?
FM: If the model knows what I want from my photos it’s really nice. I ask the models beforehand, “Have you checked out my site? Do you know what aesthetic I shoot?” If not, then I show them. I just want them to move and not pose, be whimsical and natural.
S: What are your views on models?
FM: I love models. I’m obsessed with models. I go on models.com all the time and look at the daily duo and model of the week. I’m so inspired by beautiful people. The models that I like to shoot are unique but still really beautiful. They are not conventionally beautiful but faces that make you do a double take like whoa that girl is gorgeous.
S: What are your views on the fashion industry?
FM: I feel like the fashion industry brainwashes a lot of people. I feel like it’s definitely messed up in a lot of ways but I think it’s growing and improving to get where it needs to be. A lot of people do things for free and that’s my main issue. I’m doing so many things for free during fashion week and not getting paid. It’s sad for young artists because as an artist you already downgrade yourself. When someone says we have no budget, does that make my time less valuable than other people? It’s hard making a living as an artist.
S: What is the most embarrassing thing that happened to you on set?
FM: I was shooting this girl for the first time in the summer and we’re actually friends now. I was walking in this creek (I love shooting in water) and I cut my foot open on glass. I was like, what do I do? Do I stop shooting? Do I keep going? So I was perched up on this rock with my foot over the creek, dripping blood, just taking photos. People were walking by and they were like what are you doing? Overall the shoot went fine. Also I get really anal when things are going slowly. Once when I was in California, the hair and makeup were taking forever.
S: Hair and makeup changes do take forever but the end result is usually worth it.
FM: This guy took a photo of me and I was like DON’T TAKE A PHOTO OF ME! I got really mad. I’m not like that and it just came out. It was embarrassing to me.
S: If you could do a collaboration with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
FM: I would definitely photograph Grimes, the [female] musician artist. She is amazing and I want to shoot her so badly. I would probably have a bunch of glitter and sparkles and fun little animals running around. I would make her this fun princess girl.
S: That is right up her alley. Are there certain things that you feel like you need to work on?
FM: My art is always changing. I feel like I’m never going to be at the point where I don’t need to work on anything. I’m never going to be my best because artists are never their best. Art is always subjective. Art is always changing and growing and I’m always going to be growing until I die. I want to do this forever. I feel like I can’t really pinpoint it. I feel like I know things are going change with my work and things are going to evolve, but I don’t know what they are yet. I feel like I definitely need to work on getting stronger styling because the styling really makes or breaks the photos. I could definitely work more in studio because I want to learn more about lighting.
S: As artists, we are constantly growing and learning, what advice do you have for beginners?
FM: Shoot as much as possible. Don’t get discouraged when little bumps in the road happened because no one remembers the people who quits early or stops taking photos because of one little thing. When one door closes, another door opens. I went to LA and shot seven times in one week, once everyday. It was amazing and it was so uplifting. I developed half of my portfolio book during that time. You have to make good connections, find the right people and stick with them. Also don’t talk trash.
S: Why do you bring that up? You can say the creative community is somewhat of a tight knit community. A lot of people know each other because they are in the same industry. Have you ever trash talked about anyone?
FM: I don’t talk trash about anyone in the industry. I feel like being teenager and being in high school just last year every one talked trashed on each other especially in Kentucky. Drama is annoying. Your reputation could really be ruined about talking trash especially if you’re in the same industry. Especially when being a girl in high school, all these girls would be talking trash about me and I’m like why are you doing that? That doesn’t do you any good. You’re just wasting your breath.
S: Exactly. So what is your life motto?
FM: Keep doing you. If you’re doing what someone else is doing and trying to be someone else, then what does that make you? What are you doing if you’re not doing you? Life is short.