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‘In the Road of Dreams’ – Introducing Zoriah Miller

November 5, 2013

“It’s always the people on the ground who have to live through the pain, not the people who make the decisions” – Zoriah Miller

Zoriah Miller first witnessed the severity of war in 2006. He found himself in the Gaza Strip, renting a room with a local family in an infamous militant neighborhood. He woke up in the middle of the night to bomb blasts and screaming. The shelling was so close that it actually was knocking plaster off the ceiling down onto his bed. It was a miserable experience for him and showed him that there really is nothing worse than war.

Zoriah Miller is a photographer who put his own well-being on the line in order to inform the public. He is a multi award winning photographer who has traveled extensively into conflict regions from Iraq to Afghanistan and Palestine. I am happy to be able to share his interview with all of you.

I want to do my part in shining a little bit of light on the good work that photojournalists like Zoriah are doing. For me Zoriah Miller is my brother and closest friend who is like a ‘Pillar’ in my life. The brave, determined Zoriah Miller shares something here about his continual traveling:

‘I have not had an apartment or home base in eight years and have been through about seventy countries in that time, some of them I have been to more than ten times each. I have had times in which I have been in seven countries in a week. Sometimes I will stay for a couple months in one spot, but my average time on a project is usually two or three weeks’

Zoriah (3)

GMB Akash: Please share the greatest challenge/s you faced in your early career as a photographer. Is there any struggle that you overcame and which has helped to transform you eternally?

Zoriah Miller: There were so many challenges it is hard to talk about just one of them!  I think one common thing that affects many new photographers is feeling like it is your equipment that is holding you back.  In the beginning none of our pictures look the way we want them to (no one has this magic “eye” that people speak of…in the beginning everyone’s images look like junk and it takes lots of time and practice both in shooting and editing before they start to look like professional images.)

But the photography industry wants us to believe that it is our camera that is the problem.  They want us to think that if we just buy that new body or get the Mark X lens then our pictures will be great (and who can blame them, they are companies trying to sell things and this is how they do it.). 

The truth is that your camera is a very small part of the equation.  Spend your time taking photos, learning about composition, light, perspective and of course editing.  Use your extra money to take trips and take more photos or take some time off of work to edit the ones you have.  These things will have more impact on the quality of your photos than the camera will.

Zoriah (2)

‘I want to conclude his interview with his inspiring advice. I believe he is one in a million who is continually crafting his brilliance in the world of photography. My students, fellow friends I am sharing a few words for aspiring photographers who want to follow Zoriah Miller. I wholeheartedly believe you will find it as worthy as I found it’ – GMB Akash

Zoriah Miller: I lived in Asia for two years off of $200 a month and did nothing but shoot. It was an incredible learning experience for me, because I ended up living with the locals instead of in tourist spots. I could not even afford transportation so I would just get up every day and start walking, sometimes I would walk and shoot from sunrise until well after sunset. When I would get tired I would go sit with some people or someone would invite me into their home. I think I got a unique perspective by being with the people, all of the time. Now I have money, but when I do my projects I still do them the same way. I still sleep in refugee camps and with local families, in pension houses and anywhere else that allows me to experience what those I am photographing are going through.

Zoriah (1)

I guess what I am trying to say is that not having a lot of money can actually be a benefit in this business. Photojournalism is all about adaptation. You must adapt to every new place you go, every new story you shoot and then when you return home you must adapt to a constantly changing industry. I think poor people are better at adapting than wealthy people, just out of necessity.

For those wanting to start out, buy a plane ticket and have enough saved up to just live on the road for a year or two. Or if you are not ready for that step, shoot in your “back yard.” If you can’t find a story wherever it is you are, you are not looking hard enough.

Zoriah (4)

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